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October 16, 2006

World Bread Day: Brioche


Kochtopf kindly brought it to our attention that today is World Bread Day - surely no baker could let this day go by without a tribute to the staff of life?

While I have a deep reverence for the magic that can be spun out of just flour, yeast, water, and salt, I admit I fall more into the pâtissier than the boulanger side of baking. There used to be quite a strict distinction, even rivalry, between these two disciplines in France, with the pâtissiers disdaining the physical drudgery of kneading and baking bread doughs, the boulangers scorning the frou-frou excesses of butter, sugar, and other frippery in the pâtissiers' creations. Happily a truce was reached between the two factions over the years, to the benefit of all the French, and today almost all bakeries you find in Paris are pâtisseries-boulangeries. Even in Pierre Hermé's chic shop you will find, behind the macarons and the eclairs and cakes, baskets of croissants and pain au chocolat. Similarly, though you may be drawn to Poilâne for their baguettes, their bâtards, their pain au levain, there will be some charming apple tarts and chocolate bouchons tempting you at the counter.


I can think of no better fusion of pastry and bread than that glorious creation known as brioche, that fluffy, sweet, golden breakfast delight. Some of my favorite bloggers have already written about the glories of this bread; I can only add that it's worth every minute you have to wait while it is mixing in the bowl, proofing in the refrigerator, and baking up into a buttery-fragrant, burn-your-fingers-while-pulling-it-apart pocket of heaven.

The traditional forms of brioche are either a loaf or the charming brioche à tête, which always looks like a child's weeble-wobble toy to me, with its jaunty topknot perched atop a fluted base. If, however, even all the eggs and butter stuffed into a typical brioche recipe are not enough for you (and this is no diet food, believe me), there are numerous more ways to ratchet up the decadence factor.


Tarte Tropziénne

One of my very favorite applications of brioche is the Tarte Tropézienne, a dessert from Saint-Tropez in the South of France. A circular loaf of brioche is sliced in half and filled with a mixture of whipped cream, pastry cream, and a touch of honey. The tart is intimidatingly tall but the components so feathery light you can consume an entire slice and be eyeing another. This version, taken from Desserts by Pierre Herme, substitutes a streusel-like crumb topping instead of the classic sugar crystals, which makes it even outrageously richer.



This coffeecake from Sherry Yard's Secrets of Baking is another crazy-delicious use of brioche (Yard's entire chapter on brioche is a fun little treatise on this bread and filled with enough recipes and variations to wear out your KitchenAid): Brioche filled with pecans, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg, shaped and baked into a blossom of a ring. In the oven, the sugar and spices carmelize around the nuts and raisins to make a sweet, crunchy filling, all wrapped up in a warm yeasty brioche - the perfect accompaniment to a lazy Sunday morning.

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What a lovely contribution! Ok - I wouldn't think of bread when eating a Tarte Tropézienne (which I love and which reminds me always of wonderful summerdays in Saint Tropez) but perhaps I should: bread is very healthy, isn't it ? ;-)

Dear Anita, It's turned very chilly in NYC and these warm beautiful Brioche look just the thing to warm us all up

These are beautiful - I had no idea that brioches were so versatile! I'd refrained from trying them as I do not own any of those little moulds, but I think the coffeecake is definetely worth a shot!


What a great addtition to World Bread Day!


It's all so beautiful ... I think brioche has to be my very favourite breakfast bread.

You're an artist!

I'm drooling on my keyboard! Awesome pictures....


Wonderful brioche!! If you ever come to Paris, maybe we could open together one of these boulangerie pâtisserie because i personally fall more into the boulanger side ;)
And btw, in a french bakery, it's the baker who makes all the danishes: croissants, brioche, pains au chocolat, pains aux raisins, etc..
I love your blog!

Gorgeous breads, I'd love to sample some of each!

Everything looks so tasty!

I love everything about brioches: their smell, their texture, I love making them, I love eating them...and I love making and eating Tarte Tropezienne. I kinda got The Man with this dessert!
Great entry!

Looks delicious!

And I thought plain brioche was good. I need some delicious fillings in my brioche next time!

wonderful breads!

What a lovely set of bread, tarte tropézienne, so nice! I have not had one in ages!

These photos are absolutely mouth watering, especially the last one! I so want to make brioche but alas, I don't have a mixer (everything is by hand) and my bread books say one is a must. Someday!

hi Anita,
what a beautiful pictures and writing - that coffeecake looks amazing(!)
I’ve never made brioches, but will definitely try soon - can't think of a better way to start my day...=)

I've just come back from France where I ate a lot of bread including brioche. I was expecting something spectacular but I'm happy to say that the brioche baked at home is even better than that made elsewhere. Excellent photos, Anita. I particularly like the cover photo.

Lucky you got to eat the real thing! Of course a bread so delicious must be healthy, right?:)

Thank you! Yes, warm brioche on cold morning = heaven!

The molds are actually pretty simple to use, but yes, you don't need them to enjoy brioche! Try the coffeecake - I think you'll love it!

Thank you!

Thanks! It was a fun inspiration!

It's hard to beat brioche for breakfast! Thanks for your compliments!

Thank you! The coffeecake pretty much shot itself, the shape was so unique!

Thanks so much for your compliments! When I manage to return to Paris, I would be honored to bake and eat with you!:)

Thank you! These were big breads; I wish there was a way to share them in the blogosphere!

Thank you! I'm glad you liked them.

That is awesome you got your man with tarte tropezienne - he is one lucky guy!

Thank you for your kind comments!

You would think just brioche is rich enough - I'm amazed at all the recipes filling them with more goodies. Thanks for your compliments!

Thank you!

Thank you! I'm envious you've gotten to eat the real thing!

I would definitely say a mixer is needed for brioche - but it'll be an investment you'll use forever and love!

Thank you! Brioche is definitely worth making at home - easier than it seems and tastes heavenly fresh!

You seem to enjoy the most amazing pastries at home - I love reading about them. Thanks for your kind comments!

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