My Sunday mornings begin quite early, usually somewhere between seven and eight o’clock. Not because of my alarm clock making me to, but my body is so used to getting up early it has become a natural habit. Besides, when sleeping in, I almost feel guilty of letting a wonderful summer day pass by.
Positive side-effect: There is plenty of time to scan our fridge and pantry and – hopefully – find enough ingredients for a decent breakfast. This morning, after I realized a yawning void on the bread end, I threw the pizza plans for the evening out the window and decided to use my last yeast block in favor of a proper breakfast including…well, I wasn’t exactly sure on what to do with it but had a vague notion of a sweet yeast roll or similar in mind.
Fresh yeast has to be one of my favorite ingredients to work with. Unwrapping that little chilled cube, crumbling the yeast with your fingers, its consistency, its smell. Its probably manifested in my genes. My grandma’s brother owned a wonderful tiny bakery and my grandma lend him a hand every Saturday morning, which meant rise and shine at half past two (AM). Hard work, but rewarded with the most wonderful pretzels and bread rolls, delivered still slightly warm once she returned. Therefore she was always well stocked with fresh yeast, readily available for her yummy Zwetschgendatschi (famous regional plum cake), Buchteln and Nußzopf (braided nut cake) and whenever the opportunity allowed she’d give me a “free” lesson on how to prepare a proper yeast dough. At the time I was probably thinking “been there done that” but today I’m eternally thankful she was so persistent! Having had various culinary failures [across cuisines] over the years, I never found dough including fresh yeast to be much of a challenge. Just take these simple rules to heart: Always use really fresh yeast, don’t let it get in direct contact with salt or fat and keep the covered bowl with the dough rising in a warm and draft free spot.
Sieve the flour into a bowl and make a little depression in the middle. Pour the lukewarm milk into the well, add the crumbled yeast and one teaspoon of sugar. Carefully stir once or twice. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let the pre-dough rise for about 15 minutes, the surface will start to look bubbly.
Add the remaining ingredients (sugar, egg, orange zest, pinch of salt, cooled down melted butter) and knead well, either manually or with your kitchen machine until dough can be easily removed from the bowl (non-sticky). If it still feels too sticky, add some more flour. Again, let the covered bowl rest in a warm place for at least 45 minutes (size of dough should almost double).
Knead dough one more time and toss on a floured pastry board. Cut in equal pieces and form little snow ball sized dumplings. To ensure an equal size for my muffin tray, I prepared one model, trimmed it until it had a perfect size and weighted it afterwards. The rest of the dough I cut into equal pieces, each around 75g.
Place little paper cups in the holes of a muffin tray (I used a tray, which holds 12 muffins & two extra cups) and fill each with a dough ball. Bake at 200°C (390°F) for about 15 minutes or until the tops turns golden brown. Cover with parchment paper if the tops get too dark too fast. After removing the tray from the oven I brush them with a little melted butter, giving them a nice little glow. Enjoy these little fluffy orange-scented brioches still warm with butter and jam!
This has to be a good day… ;)
Note: The dough can also be flavored with lemon zest, vanilla sugar or cinnamon, whatever your heart desires. For chocolate brioches, place a little piece of your favorite chocolate inside the dough balls… Yummy! Oh and before I forget, in case you have left overs they make a really good basis for French Toast.
Recipe source: own creation
Prep time: 20min., resting: about 1 hour, baking: 15 to 20 min.
Ingredients (yields about 14 muffin sized brioches):
250 ml lukewarm milk
20g fresh yeast
75g white sugar
a pinch of salt
75g melted butter
zest of half an untreated orange
extra melted butter to brush rolls (about 1 tbsp)