Well, we are back on planet normal after our indulgent week in Vietnam, most of which we spent lolling around a fabulous resort which I’ll share with you later. Back here in real life the absence of a vast and sumptuous breakfast buffet was immediately noted and sullenly commented on by The Bloke. I’m incredibly lazy around the house and often lack the motivation to cook a meal, but I always seem to miss baking when I go away. As a result, it is usually the first thing I do in the kitchen upon my return from travels so, while dinner might be a bit slow in appearing, cake, cookies or bread reliably appear pretty quickly.
As far as bountiful breakfast buffets go, in our house they generally just don’t. Given my lack of interest in early morning cooking and my apparent inability to bully anyone else in the house into it, if we are in the mood for a slap-up feed we generally take ourselves out somewhere local and get someone else to cook for us. However, we currently have a most unusual problem for this time of the year. Our hens seem to have paid no attention at all to the fact that it is winter time and freezing (quite literally up here in the Adelaide Hills). We have six hens, one of whom is ancient and probably not laying at all, and have been averaging 4-5 eggs a day all through this ridiculous weather.
In an effort to use as many eggs up as I can, The Bloke has lucked out and, while not exactly offering him the resort selection he prefers, breakfast the other day was notably flasher than usual with an egg-rich, gorgeously warm and oven-fresh loaf of Honey Orange Brioche. Now you just know I’m most unlikely to knock myself out over a fiddly recipe – and you’d be right. Bread baking is simple and rewarding and this loaf is no exception. Just remember that flours vary from batch to batch so you may have to adjust the liquid levels a little.
This dough is as simple as you’d expect from me and can be made by hand, by using the dough hook in a stand mixer or even on the dough setting in a bread machine. I made it the evening before, allowing it to slow-prove in the fridge (do put a dinner plate over the bowl in the fridge or it will just expand everywhere) and baked it fresh in the morning. I would have added some candied orange peel to this if I could find it, but it seems impossible to buy these days. I guess I’ll have to make some myself, but that’s another project. This is as easy as they come, but very impressive to serve and utterly divine to eat – I’d urge you to give it a go.
Honey Orange Brioche
- 1 sachet dried yeast
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 175 mls warm milk
- 475 gms bread flour
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 125 gms softened butter
- 3 eggs
- zest of 2 oranges
- egg wash for glazing.
- Combine yeast, honey and warm milk. Whisk with a fork to mix well and set aside for 10 minutes, until the yeast activates and foam is seen on the surface.
- Add the rest of the ingredients (but not the orange zest) in the order given and mix on very low speed (to stop it all flying out of the bowl) with the dough hook on your stand mixer to combine. Once combined, increase speed to that suggested for kneading and knead for 5-6 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Add the orange zest and mix until it is well combined in the dough.
- If making by hand, combine all ingredients except the orange rind and mix with a wooden spoon until blended and sticky.
- Turn on to a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding the orange zest at the end when the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a large bowl.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and stand in warm place until it has doubled.
- Punch the dough down, cover the bowl again with wrap and place a dinner plate over the bowl. Refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning preheat oven to 180C. Grease a round spring-form cake pan.
- Punch the dough down again and knead by hand for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
- Divide the dough into 7 equal pieces and roll into balls. Place 1 of the dough balls in the centre of the cake pan and the remaining 6 around the central one.
- Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and place in a warm spot until doubled in size (about an hour or so).
- Remove wrap and brush dough with egg wash.
- Place on centre rack in oven and bake until golden and well risen - 25-30 minutes.
- Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and eat immediately!