for the love of brioche


this morning for a belated birthday present I went into town to take a 4-hour masterclass in making brioches and kouglofs at Lenôtre's cuisine school. It felt rather special (and a little scary) walking along the champs elysee lined with flowering trees and flags flapping from lamp posts knowing I was about to learn in french how to make some traditional bread.

brioche, that pillowy egg and butter rich bread, has long been one of favourite things to smell/eat/toast/ (actually I remember buying loaves of it as a child with my pocket money!) - so to learn the secrets of how to prepare it was terribly lovely. we were also taught how to make kouglof which is a sweet raisin bread from alsace. I was joined by three other home cooks; two parisians and a brazilian tourist. our chef was friendly, thorough and absolutely precise with each measurement.

we learned how to make the doughs, roll perfect little balls of brioche, shape kouglofs and make a special syrup for them. we tasted our efforts warm and steaming from the oven... I have to say, some of the best brioche I've ever had - so soft and just the right ratio of sweet to savoury. I am sure that's due to the special Lenôntre recipe, best quality french butter and the strict adherence to precise temperatures and times!

so I've arrived home with my freshly baked goods - little brioches with sugar grains and a simple egg wash, as well as my very own shaped loaf (my favourite style), plenty of almondy-orange blossom drenched kouglofs and a generous ball of dough of each. I am thinking of making another loaf of brioche with it and a batch of cinnamon-apple-raision scrolls with the kouglof (since I don't have the special moulds)... and I foresee the stale brioche (if it lasts that long) becoming french toast for breakfast and pudding with fresh berries for desert later in the week!

there is something so satisfying about watching your wee one try something you love for the first time, knowing you made it too. he seemed rather pleased with it, after all, his hair resembles a rather well-baked loaf of brioche top these days! oui, c'est formidable!