When I first started cooking and baking for myself, part out of necessity and probably part to challenge myself with something new, I began to pay attention to two things. First, discover bakeries, cafes, little restaurants, etc. that were not part of big chains, and write about it. Second, I wanted to try and duplicate food I liked at home.
One of the great early discoveries was Macrina Bakery in Seattle. My first favorite item I wanted to try was their sour cherry lemon coffee cake but would also grab some of their pan au levain, some of their sourdoughs, and other delicious treats. I hadn’t yet moved back to Seattle, so would hit that little bakery up on Queen Anne, and bring some treats back. When owner, Leslie Mackey, came up with her first cookbook, I snatched it up too. I wanted to see if I could learn a little more about bread than the basics (which is important).
I learned to make sourdough, pan au levain, ciabatta, and other yeast breads that were not only fun to make, certainly a challenge, but also SUPER delicious. I then moved into some of the batter breads, cookies, and even a cake or two. LOVE the book.
One of the most rewarding yeast breads is the classic brioche. It is buttery and the feathery cinnamon-nutmeg-swirls that wisp through the bread, make each slice a fresh treat. As toast, French toast, or just a slice pulled off is near perfection.
Thank you Leslie. We are winning.
with optional sugar-cinnamon mixture
1/4 cup water – lukewarm
1/2 cup sugar (honey OK – 2 t reserved)
1 1/2 t yeast
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
3 1/2 cup AP flour
1 t kosher salt
8 T butter (room temp, cut into pieces)
Mix water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar and let sit about 10 minutes for yeast to bloom.
Add all other ingredients (including the rest of the sugar) to stand mixer and pour in yeast mixture. After dough comes together, slowly drop in the butter, one piece at a time over the 10-12 minutes of mixing. Dough will be very sticky.
Placed dough into proofing container and let proof for 1 1/2 hours.
Flatten dough and split into 3 “logs.”
Optional Cinnamon Sugar
Mix 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.
If using sugar, melt some butter, brush and then roll the dough “logs” in the sugar mixture and then braid and drop into loaf pan. Let proof for another 1 1/2 hours.
Bake at 360 for 40 minutes with optional egg wash before you bake.
Let rest for about 20 or more minutes. Remove from loaf pan and let rest longer.