Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Just when I thought I could not possibly love my breadmaker any more, I discovered the magic of its dough settings. A pizza party eventuated and was followed by making focaccia with fresh herbs, then hot cross buns. This weekend, it was time to step things up a notch. A friend and I had come across pear and chocolate flavoured brioche at a local cafe last year. It was divine! How hard could it be to make it ourselves?

Conveniently, we have had a French pâtissier staying with us for the past two months. Although we didn't manage to do a lot of baking together during her stay, I still learned some fantastic tips from her. I suggested she 'teach' me and some friends how to make brioche. She accepted the challenge!

The first issue was finding a suitable recipe. I was keen to learn from the master but, having mostly worked in bakeries throughout Europe and Ireland, she preferred that we looked for a recipe that used New Zealand ingredients. Apparently the yeast available in each country can vary and behave in different ways. We settled on the recipe that came with my Panasonic breadmaker, even though we planned to make it in my Kenwood mixer. I won't post the actual recipe, as these might vary between breadmakers, but in future I plan to make brioche using the DOUGH RAISIN setting and put the additional butter in the fruit dispenser.

Brioche makes quite a versatile dough and can be formed into many different shapes. We followed this great tutorial to roll the dough into three balls and sit them together in a muffin tray for baking. I learned how to wrap little pieces of tinned pear into a dumpling shape and press chocolate drops into the dough. I also learned how to roll the balls smoothly by holding my hand in a claw shape, but never got as far as rolling two balls at once like the guy in this video - that will take some practice!

We cooked the brioche rolls for 15-20 minutes at 180°C until they were a lovely golden brown colour. For extra colour, you could use an egg wash (one beaten egg brushed on before baking). They tasted absolutely delicious fresh out of the oven, but even better the next day heated up and served with (more) butter.

Now, it only remains to be seen whether I can repeat the feat on my own and without the expert assistance of a live-in French pâtissier!

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