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Flower Pot Brioche


Not everyone has a fluted brioche mould, but most can beg or borrow a couple of terracotta pots when making a first attempt at this soft-hearted bread that is fragrant with butter – the flute shape of a flower pot is just the job. Tips for success: this is not a recipe to attempt without a stand mixer or very big biceps. Also, use French or other lactic butter because it stays sweetly stable when worked. We find, sad to say, most British butter tends to become greasy and rancid in brioche. This recipe makes a sturdy brioche that will rise high.

Makes 6 small flower pot brioches, each enough for one person

Equipment

  • Stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (an electric hand mixer is not powerful enough)
  • 6 small flower pots (10cm/4 inches wide)
  • 6 x 15x23cm/6x9-inch pieces of baking parchment

Timing

3 hours (excluding overnight prove)

Ingredients

  • 500g plain white flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 20g/scant 1oz fresh yeast or 10g/scant ¼oz dried
  • 60ml whole milk, lukewarm
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 350g butter from the fridge, cut into 2cm/¾inch dice

For the egg wash:

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 pinch salt

Stage 1. Mixing and kneading the dough

Put the flour in the mixing bowl, add the salt and mix briefly (use the beater attachment). Add the yeast to the warm milk with the sugar and mix until the yeast has dissolved. Add to the mixing bowl with the beaten eggs.

Mix at a low speed for 3 minutes. The dough will be very firm, tacky and pale yellow in colour.

Keeping the mixer on slow, add the butter pieces, one by one, a few seconds apart so they are incorporated into the dough. You may find this takes a while, and you need to stop the mixer from time to time and scrape down the sides with a spatula and break up any large clods of butter.

The dough will become increasingly elastic, glossy and begin to leave the sides of the bowl clean. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl again and cover with cling film.

Stage 2. First prove – in the refrigerator

Leave in the fridge overnight. During this slow prove, the mixture will double in size.

Stage 3. Shaping the buns and loaves

Remove from the fridge and leave at room temperature until it feels softer to the touch – about 1–1½hours. The dough is now ready to be shaped. It will be soft and sticky so use floured hands to divide into 6 pieces. Divide each of these into 3 pieces and drop each lot of 3 into one flowerpot – this ensures there is a little air trapped in the dough in each pot, allowing it to expand better and so there is no doughy centre to the brioche once cooked.

Stage 4. Second prove

Once you have filled the pots, brush the surface of each one with egg wash and leave to prove for 45 minutes.

Stage 5. Baking the buns and loaves

Just before baking, brush with egg wash once more. Bake at 200°C/ 400°F/Gas mark 6 for approximately 20–25 minutes, or until deep gold in colour.

Larger flower pot brioche

After removing the dough from the fridge after the overnight prove and allowing it to soften at room temperature, divide the brioche dough in two and proceed as for the smaller flower pots. Larger brioche will need a longer second prove before baking and could take up to 40 minutes to cook at 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Test to see if they are done by inserting a skewer and drawing it out, as you would a cake. If the skewer comes out clean, the brioche is cooked.

Recipe from THE POCKET BAKERY by Rose Prince, published in hardback by Weidenfeld & Nicolson at £18.99.

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