Brioche from the Vendée Region Recipe
Flavors of the Vendée
Rising time: 4 hours
Total time: more than 2 hoursBaking time: 45 minutes
Rising time: 4 hours
Brioche is a tradition of the Vendée region. To celebrate Easter, every family used to make or order a brioche from the bakery. Every area and every country baker had a special recipe and a little secret that imparted a unique touch to the basic recipe of flour, eggs and butter flavored with orange flower water or eau-de-vie, with or without crème fraîche. The dough was left to rise for a short or a long time, depending on whether a lighter or denser texture was desired. Brioche is lighter than "gâche," which is still the most traditional product. Originally associated with family celebrations and with Easter (to mark the end of Lent), gâche is now available all year long. It is traditional to perform a dance with the brioche at weddings. A special brioche is ordered (sometimes weighing 40 lb.) for all the guests. The big round braided loaf is presented to the groom on a platter, set on a litter that the groom and guests have to carry at arm's length while dancing to prove their strength.
Ingredients for 4 servings
- 1 kg (2 1/4 lb.) sifted flour
- 2 tsp. fine salt
- 3 whole eggs
- 250 g (1 1/4 cup) sugar
- 150 g (5 oz.) lukewarm butter
- 3 tbsp. crème fraîche
- 250 ml (1 cup) lukewarm water
- 50 g (2 oz.) fresh baker's yeast
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
- 2 tbsp. eau-de-vie
- 1 tbsp. orange flower water
- In a bowl, combine the yeast with the warm milk and let proof in a warm place for about 10 minutes.
- In another bowl, arrange the flower in a well and add the ingredients. Add the water a little at a time. Mix everything together, beating lightly, then knead by hand until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers.
- Form the dough into a ball, flour lightly and place in a dish; cover with a cloth and let rise for 3 hours in warm draft-free place.
- Grease and flour a baking sheet. Divide the dough into thirds and form into three long "sausages," the traditional shape for the bread.
- Place on the baking sheet and let rise again for about 1 hour.
- Glaze the surface by brushing with an egg beaten with a spoonful of milk.
- Bake in a 180° C (350° F) oven for 25 minutes.
- Make a lengthwise cut down the top of the bread with a knife. Continue baking for 20 minutes longer. Let cool and enjoy!
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