Brioche is a type of bread found all over Europe, with its origins from many different European countries. It can be traced back as far as 1404 from the Normans when they settled in France. But some have also called it Viennese or Roman, and some even say it is Romanian because of its similarity to the Romanian sweet bread made for holidays. The word brioche is a combination of the French words brier and broyer, which mean to knead and the German word brehhan meaning to break.
Brioche is richer than most breads, which makes it almost like a pastry. It is a yeast dough that is enriched with butter and eggs. One of the reasons why people think it may be from the early Normans is because they were some of the first Europeans to master the art of churning butter, and butter is a key ingredient for making brioche. Often brioche breads are fruit filled. Filling breads and cakes with fruit is a European tradition found all over the continent, with many, many different variations. Filling breads and cakes with fruit is a time honored tradition that has been carried out through the centuries, particularly during the Holiday season.
I made my own version of a fruit stuffed brioche. I filled it with some leftover cranberry-fruit relish that has been in my freezer for awhile. But you can fill this brioche with apricots, apples, raisins, or any other hearty fruits or fruit preserves too. You need time and patience to make this brioche bread. This bread cannot be rushed. It needs time, and lots of it, for it rise and set properly.
Fruit Stuffed Brioche
2 1/2 cups white bread flour
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 TBSP yeast
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 sticks of soft butter
1 cup dried fruit that has been softened and/or reconstituted
Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, milk and eggs in a food processor and processor abut 5 minutes or until you have a smooth dough. You can also mix this by hand, which will take about 8 minutes. Then add the butter, and process again for another 5 minutes, or 10 minutes if mixing by hand.
Once your dough is made, place it in a large bowl and cover it. Let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.
The dough will double and will be a stiff dough, which will make it easier to work with and to shape.
When the dough is ready, divide into 3 fairly equal sections, then divide it into 30 small balls. Flatten out the balls. Spray 3 loaf pans with cooking spray.
When the dough balls have been flattened out, fill them with about 1 tsp of fruit filling and form them into a ball. I find if I roll them on to a lightly floured surface, it helps to seal the dough.
Place the filled fruit balls into the loaf pans 2-1,2-1 until the pan is completely filled. You should be able to get about 10-11 balls per pan.
At this point, the dough needs to rise again, for about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven t 400* F or 200* C.
Brush an egg wash over the top and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool the breads completely before slicing. Then enjoy this fruited delight. It could very easily be a meal all by itself.
As Marie Antoinette once famously said, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” en Francais, or “Let them eat cake” as we know it in English.
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.