I fell deeply in love with brioche ever since I made those brioche hot cross buns earlier this month. I’ve been using the same recipe to make loaves for breakfast, and I’d eat three slices in one sitting. Working at a French bakery made me mentally immune to the word “butter”, but I think my growing belly says otherwise. While my co-worker is getting all hyped up about the rhubarb season, I suddenly thought of adding tart-tasting rhubarb to a rich, buttery brioche. What a great idea. What else goes well with the mighty rhubarb of spring? Orange and vanilla, of course. And the vanilla orange rhubarb loaf is born. I decided to fold in a rhubarb compote into the brioche dough and make it into a nice twisted shape, it’s so easy and pretty! There isn’t a lot of compote in the loaf, as I wanted the loaf to stay intact and slice nicely after baking while holding its beautiful shape.
- 125g rhubarb (about 4 thin stalks), chopped
- 100g / 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp finely grated orange zest
- 30g / 2 tbsp orange juice
- half of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
- 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
- You can replace this compote with a good quality jam to save time.
- 250g / 1-1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 15g / 1 tbsp milk
- 4.5g / 1-1/8 tsp instant yeast
- 6 g / 1 tsp salt
- 30g / 2-1/2 tbsp sugar
- 150g eggs (about 3 large)
- 150g / 2/3 cup unsalted butter
- egg wash
- raw sugar or granulated sugar
- Place all ingredients except the orange blossom water into a small pot, cook on medium heat until rhubarb pieces break down into a compote, about 5-10 minutes. Lastly, stir in orange blossom water if using and let cool, place in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Combine all dry ingredients in a mixer bowl.
- Whisk together eggs and milk in a small bowl, and add to the dry ingredients.
- Start the mixer on low speed with a dough hook to mix the dough until it comes away from the side of the bowl, about 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add in butter by the tablespoon, mixing a little after each addition until all the butter has been incorporated.
- Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, punch down, cover and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. *It is important to work with the dough while it is cold otherwise it will be too soft and difficult to shape.
- Prepare a 4.5" X 8.5" / 25 cm X 10.5 cm loaf pan, brush the insides with butter, lined with a piece of parchment paper. Butter the paper with more butter, it will brown the sides nicely. *The parchment paper will prevent the compote from sticking to the pan.
- Roll out dough into a rectangle, about 9" X 5", spread the rhubarb compote evenly onto the dough, avoiding 0.25"around the sides. Roll up from the longer edge, pinch the ends seal in the compote.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough in half lengthwise. Carefully twist the two strips, and shape into a log. Lift up and place into the lined pan.
- Proof the dough for about 2 - 2.5 hours, until it reaches the rim of the pan. When almost ready, preheat oven to 350 F.
- Lightly egg wash the top of the loaf, sprinkle with raw sugar or granulated sugar. Place the loaf pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. It is done when the top is a rich golden brown, and the internal temperature is 200 F.
If you are pressed for time, simply replace the compote with a good quality jam, such as strawberry or raspberry. I love how easy it is to make but looks impressive at the same time. It makes a great bread for a weekend brunch. You can shape it the day before, place the pan in the fridge. On the next day when you are ready to proof it, take it out, proof for 2 – 3 hours and bake. Deliciously buttery and jammy brioche is served.
Fun fact: As we all know, Marie Antoinette once said, “Let them eat cake.” However, the infamous line was more like, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche,” which means, “Let them eat brioche.”