If you are a frequent visitor to this blog, you will know how much I enjoy making bread. While I am very happy to let kitchen appliances carry out the hard work, indeed for this loaf they are necessary, shaping the dough is always fun to do by hand. Since I first tried an eight strand plaited loaf last year, I have become hooked on intertwining lengths of dough and observing the final, baked result. This Cinnamon Plaited Brioche Bread is delicious and easy to make.
Having re-tested the recipe and technique I have full confidence that you too can make this delicious bread. Even if you have never plaited before, the step by step photographs will show you how. Such a small amount of extra effort and you will be rewarded with a stunning loaf. While the smell of cinnamon dough, baking, will have you counting the minutes until your first slice!
How Ingredients Affect The Final Bake
When baking, it always pays to use the very best ingredients available. However, not everyone’s budget can stretch to premium ingredients. If you can make one change here, I strongly recommend using free range, or organic eggs. Their golden yolks are what help give this loaf its amazing colour. Both in the bread itself and the egg wash, brushed on before baking. Resulting in both the golden and bronzed baked crust.
Serving this bread, sliced for breakfast or as an afternoon treat with a hot drink, is sure to brighten anyone’s day. Since it is a large loaf, why not take it to work, pre-sliced and share with your colleagues? Since all food tastes better when it is shared, that is the only way to improve this bread. Simply by sharing it.
Recipe: Cinnamon Plaited Brioche Bread
300mls Whole Milk
2 Large Free Range Eggs
1tsp Caster Sugar
10g Dried Yeast – I use Allinson in the green tub or sachets
600g/1lb 5oz Strong White Bread Flour – I use Shipton Mill
50g/2oz Unsalted Butter
10g Salt – I use Maldon
For the cinnamon filling:
75g/3oz Light Muscavado Sugar – I use Billington’s
1 free range egg plus 1tbsp milk to brush over the loaf.
The method given for making this Cinnamon Plaited Brioche Bread uses a dough hook fitted to a stand mixer. The enriched dough is very, very sticky, prior to its first prove. Using a stand mixer ensures that the dough is kneaded properly. Resulting in a light textured crumb once baked.
Making The Brioche Bread Dough
- First of all ensure that your kitchen is warm. It will really benefit the yeast, during the dough making process.
- Measure the milk into a jug and warm in a microwave for 20 seconds. Ideally the milk should be body temperature 37C. However, do not overheat as it may kill the yeast.
- Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Crack 2 eggs into the jug and add these to the milk in the bowl. I always break eggs into a separate container first. If any shell escapes it can then be removed and also, extremely occasionally, should an egg be bad, it will not spoil the whole recipe.
- Next add the sugar and yeast. Swish the liquid about with clean fingers to break up the eggs and mix lightly.
- On top of the liquid mix add the flour.
- Now add the butter and salt.
- Lower the dough hook into the bowl and mix on the slowest speed for 5 minutes. Then, gradually increase the speed to medium and mix for a further 5 minutes.
- After the mixing time has elapsed stop the mixer.
The Windowpane Test
- Remove a small piece of dough and stretch it between your fingers. The dough is kneaded when it can be stretched so thinly that light can be seen through it. This is called the windowpane test.
- If the dough tears before it can be fully stretched, lower the dough hook and continue mixing, checking every 3 minutes, until it passes the windowpane test.
- Once the dough passes the windowpane test it is ready to prove. Scrape the dough from the dough hook and allow to drop into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place somewhere warm and drought free.
- Allow the dough to prove until doubled in size – approximately 1 hour.
- While the dough is proving grease a large baking tray with butter. Also, into a small bowl, weigh out the sugar and add the cinnamon. Stir to mix and break up any large sugar lumps using your fingers. Set to one side.
Shaping The Dough And Adding The Cinnamon Mix
- Once doubled in size turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Use your hand, or a dough scraper to remove all of the dough.
- Shape the dough into a round and then weigh it. I use digital scales, placing the dough on to a piece of baking parchment. Make a note of the weight of the dough. Now divide that figure in 3.
- Cut the dough into 3 pieces that are equal in weight.
- Roll each piece of dough into a length and then flatten, using your hands or a rolling pin. Each flattened length of dough should measure 50cm/20″.
- Sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mixture down the middle of each piece of dough. Dividing it equally between three strands.
- Dab a little tap water down the right side of the first strip of dough. Now bring the left side over and pinch to secure the sides together. Similar to making a sausage roll.
- Continue until all three lengths of dough have their filling securely encased.
- Roll each length of dough so that the join is underneath and not visible.
- Join all three lengths of dough at the top. Place on top of each other and pinch together to secure.
Plaiting The Cinnamon Brioche Bread
- Starting from left to right, number the strands 1, 2 and 3. Number 1 strand will always be to the left, 2 in the middle and 3 on the right.
- Pass strand 1 over strand 2.
- Now pass strand 3 over strand 2. Ensure the strands are not pulled tight and there should be no gaps.
- Repeat the past two steps until the plait is finished. (Strand 1 over 2, then strand 3 over strand 2 and repeat.)
- Pinch the bottom 3 strands together so that they are secure and look tidy.
- Lift the plait using both hands at either end and place diagonally on to the greased baking tray.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave, as before, in a draught free place.
- While the plaited dough is proving preheat the oven to 240C/220C gas mark 9, 475F. Break an egg into a bowl, add the tablespoon of milk and whisk with a fork to mix.
- Once the plaited dough has doubled in size use a soft pastry brush and carefully brush the egg wash over.
Baking The Cinnamon Plait
- Place the egg washed Cinnamon Plaited Brioche Bread into the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7, 425F. Continue to bake for a further 15-20 minutes.
- The bread is baked when a deep, golden crust has formed and the base sounds hollow, when rapped with a knuckle.
- Once baked remove the bread from the oven.
- Slide a pallet knife under the baked bread, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack.
Allow the loaf to cool to body temperature before slicing. Attempting to slice while the bread is still hot will compact the bread. Also eating freshly baked, hot bread, is not good for our digestion!
Serve sliced with a smile and a complimenting drink.
Placed in a bread bin, or wrapped loosely in foil, once fully cooled, this loaf will last up to three days. It can be toasted, although I’d advise not to use a toaster due to the sugar present. Under a grill, or even better, in front of a log fire, this bread makes excellent toast!
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Homemade bread is the most luxurious food, for me, to bake. Enticing smells as it is baking, make our house feel like a home. Appreciative comments when a fresh loaf is on the table, to be served with dinner, or for breakfast, make me smile. Not for the accolade, or indeed achievement, from others, of having made my own loaf. Simply the fact that I am giving my family, delicious, additive free, tasty bread, is enough to keep me baking.
So, whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.
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