Five Minute (Almost) Almond Brioche For Your Valentine


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The basic concept is this: Mix up a quick batch of moist no-knead dough, save it in your refrigerator, tear off hunks as needed, shape, and bake. Each master recipe makes enough dough for four loaves and keeps in the fridge for up to a week. After that, whatever you don't use can be popped in the freezer for later.


One of my favorite recipes from the book is their master brioche recipe. I can't count the number of times I've made it in one variation or another. The recipe yields a divinely rich and buttery brioche that rivals any you'll ever have. I decided that this would be the perfect edible Valentine for my chocolate-averse spouse. Fortunately, he loves bread - and brioche is a bread.


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I filled my brioche with a luscious almond cream. You can add any filling you like, but I urge you to try this one. It is heavenly! The brioche is soft and moist on the inside, while the sugar and almonds on the top crust get all crunchy and caramelized. It reminds me of those amazing almond croissants that I’ve had in Paris. I also baked my brioche in a heart-shaped pan because I have one, but a regular cake pan will do.


Serve this Almond Brioche to your Valentine with his morning coffee, and I can almost guarantee you'll find a little sparkly something under your pillow that night!


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Almond Brioche (adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day)


Note: All of the ingredients for this recipe can be found at Publix, except the orange-flower water, which can be found at most specialty or gourmet shops. If you can't find it, you can just leave it out.


Ingredients:


1 1/2 pounds brioche dough (recipe follows)


4 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan


1/2 cup of almond paste


1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour


1 egg


1/4 teaspoon orange-flower water


1/4 teaspoon almond extract


1/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting the pan


Zest from half an orange


1/2 cup sliced natural almonds


Directions:


Making the almond cream:


Cream together the butter, almond paste, flour, egg, orange-flower water and almond extract in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.


Assembling the brioche:


1. Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a cantaloupe-sized piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.


2. Roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Use just enough flour to prevent it from sticking.


3. Spread the almond cream evenly all over the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Roll up the dough, jellroll-style starting at the long end, and being sure to seal the bare edges. Chill the roll in the freezer for about 15 minutes.


4. Generously grease an 8-inch round cake pan with butter. Sprinkle the pan with a dusting of granulated sugar.


5. Cut the chilled dough into 8 equal pieces. Place them in the prepared pan with the swirled edge facing up. Let the dough rest for 1 hour.


6. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


7. Mix the sugar, orange zest and almonds together and sprinkle over the brioche. Bake without steam until golden brown and set in the center, about 40 minutes.


8. Run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the brioche and invert it into a serving dish. Serve warm.


Brioche Dough


Note: If you're interested, there are several helpful tutorials on how to make the master bread recipes from the book. For a list, click here.


Ingredients:


1 1/2 cups lukewarm water


1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)


1 1/2 tablespoons salt


8 eggs, lightly beaten


1/2 cup honey


7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


Directions:


1. Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and 1½ cups melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl or lidded (not airtight) food container.


2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon. You can also use a 14-cup capacity food processor or a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook. If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled. Don’t try to work with it before chilling. You may notice lumps in the dough but they will disappear in the finished product.


3. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.


4. The dough can be used as soon as it’s chilled after the initial rise. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze the dough in 1-pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rise and rest times.


Enjoy!


Still hungry? Come visit me at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy, friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!

Valentines Day is right around the corner. A heart pierced by Cupid’s arrow is a traditional symbol of this special holiday honoring love and lovers, and giving someone a heart signifies the bestowing of your love to that person.

Each year at this time, the stores are brimming with red and pink heart-shaped boxes filled with all manner and form of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. I admit, I'm not above enjoying one, two or ten of these edible tokens of affection. After all, chocolate is even said to be an aphrodisiac. However, I’m married to a man who doesn’t like chocolate. Can you imagine anyone not liking chocolate!?!? Not only that, he doesn’t really care for sweets at all. (Someone tell me again why I married this man?) So, coming up with an sweet treat on Valentine's Day that he might actually eat is a challenge all on its own.

Lucky for me, I have lots of friends. Some of these friends actually write bestselling cookbooks, like Zoë François, who along with Jeff Hertzberg authored the groundbreaking bread baking bible, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. This book completely breaks down the mystique of baking bread, teaching the yeast-challenged how to make great loaves at home, with only five minutes of active preparation time. Coming on the heels of the "No Knead Bread" craze of a few years ago started by the New York Times' article about Jim Lahey's minimalist, yet revolutionary process of producing rustic, crusty loaves, Artisan Bread in Five expounds on the "no knead" concept, providing simple master recipes for high-quality, fresh bread in less time than it typically takes to boil water. Using François' and Hertzberg's innovative technique, crusty baguettes, mouth-watering pizzas, buttery pastries and even jelly doughnuts can easily become part of anyone's baking repertoire.

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