Makes: 12 rolls
Active time: 30 minutes
Proofing time: 1 hour
Bake time: 20 to 25 minutes
These are buttery breakfast rolls (sometimes topped with chunky pearl sugar), not unlike brioche, which I discovered at the age of 17, when I was living as an exchange student in Brussels. My host mother would place a basket of fresh petits pains au lait on the table, along with some baking chocolate. I still remember the first day I sat at that breakfast table, wide-eyed as I watched my host sisters stuff squares of chocolate inside the little bread rolls. Bread + chocolate for breakfast? Pretty heavenly, right? If you’re not as much of a chocoholic as I am, these are also delicious fresh or toasted with butter and jam. Note that this recipe calls for a batch of the Simple Brioche Dough so make sure you take this into account.
- Simple Brioche Dough (below)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon heavy (35%) cream
- Pearl sugar, for decorating (optional)
1Follow the Simple Brioche Dough recipe. Once your dough has rested for either 1 hour in a warm place or overnight in the fridge, line two baking trays with parchment paper. If your dough was in the fridge, let it sit for about 15 minutes before working with it.
2Tip the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper on a countertop and divide it into 12 equal parts. I cut the dough in halves, then each half into three pieces, which I then cut into two.
3Take each piece of dough, cup your hand around it and roll it around the parchment to form a smooth ball. Place the dough balls on one baking tray. There will be a seam underneath each dough ball – make sure that stays on the bottom as you place them on the tray.
4Cover the rolls with a clean tea towel and leave them to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
5Take one of the balls of dough and, using a rolling pin, gently roll it out to a circle about 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter. Flip it over so the smooth side is facing down. Fold the round in half so you have a semi-circle shape. Pinch the edges of the dough together with your fingers and press hard to make sure they stick. Place the dough seam side down back on one of the parchment-lined baking trays and press down gently. You’ll have what looks like a long dinner roll with somewhat pointed ends.
6Repeat with the remaining dough, dividing the rolls evenly between the two baking trays so as not to crowd them.
7Cover the baking trays with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
8Whisk the egg and cream together and brush the tops of the rolls with this egg wash. Use kitchen scissors to snip the top surface of the rolls, either in a zig-zag pattern or just three to four diagonal slits on each. Brush the egg wash on again once you have cut the tops and sprinkle the pearl sugar on top if using – approximately 2 teaspoons per roll.
9Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden.
10Remove from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool completely. These are best eaten the day you bake them, but you can also keep them in a resealable plastic bag for up to 3 days (they toast really well!) at room temperature.
Simple brioche dough
Makes: 12 breakfast rolls or 1 large brioche
Prep time: 20 minutes
Proofing time: 1 hour at room temperature (or overnight in the fridge plus 2 hours at room temperature the next day)
You can make this dough and use it immediately once it’s proved for an hour or you can pop it in the fridge overnight and let it prove at room temperature for 2 hours before you use it.
- 3 1/3 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup (250 ml) 2% milk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- All-purpose flour, for sprinkling
- ½ tablespoon vegetable oil, for the proofing bowl
1Place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
2Heat the milk in a small pot over low heat to 110˚F (43˚C), measuring the temperature with a digital thermometer. If you are using a microwave, use a microwave-safe bowl and start with 30 seconds on high. If it’s not hot enough, you can continue to heat in increments of 15 seconds, to be sure not to overheat.
3Pour the warm milk into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are just combined. The mixture will be a little shaggy and dry at this stage.
4Whisk the beaten egg and melted butter together to combine and then stir them carefully into the dough until the mixture comes together and all the dry ingredients are fully combined. This will be a fairly sticky mixture at first. I use a rubber spatula to press the dry ingredients into the dough when it seems like the wooden spoon can’t be of any more help.
5Bring the dough together with your hands, still in the bowl, and start to knead until the dough comes together fully and starts to feel smooth.
6Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle it with a little more flour and start to knead. You’ll be kneading for 5 full minutes continually, so it’s a good idea to share this task with another person! To knead, you’ll need to stretch the dough away from you with the heel of one hand and pull it toward you with the other hand and then roll the dough into a ball. Knead a few times with the heel of your hand and then stretch the dough again. Continue like this for 5 minutes. The dough will be smooth and elastic by the time you’re done.
7Pour around ½ tablespoon of vegetable oil into a large metal or glass bowl and use a paper towel to evenly coat the insides of the bowl with the oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave it to prove at room temperature for 1 hour. If you are not using the dough immediately, place the bowl in the fridge overnight. Note that if you are putting the dough in the fridge, it will also need around 2 hours’ proving at room temperature the next day.
8Once the dough has proved, it’s ready to use.
Use a stand mixer for the kneading (it’s much easier on the hands!). You’ll only need to work the dough for 3 to 5 minutes on medium speed.
Excerpted from In the French Kitchen with Kids by Mardi Michels. Copyright © 2018 Mardi Michels. Photography © Kyla Zanardi. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
First printed in our sister publication France Today
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