I love bread and I might have a stronger soft spot for the brioches and pannettones of the world. There is something about the rich buttery dough that results in tender golden crumbly bread that is quite priceless, especially with even less effort than regular bread.
Brioche, the love child of a humble loaf of bread and seductive pastry hails from France. It is characterized by it's high butter, sugar and egg content amalgamated with a liquid of some kind; usually milk or cream. It goes very well with fruit and has a beautiful dark brown crust often encrusted with sugar. The bread I share today is an express verion of brioche that is perfect for afternoon tea or taking to picnics and parties. What makes this bread is the brown sugar labne prepared by layering brown sugar and yogurt and hanging it to drain. This gorgeous dollop of a dessert is an indulgence in itself but topped on the brioche is something you must try.
FRUIT BRIOCHE WITH BROWN SUGAR LABNE
adapted from Gourmet Traveller October 2012
A rich buttery sweet bread topped with creamy brown sugar yogurt and topped with strawberries and mandarin zest.
for the brioche
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons dried yeast
150g softened butter
70g brown sugar
400g plain flour
juice of 1/2 blood orange
zest of 1 blood orange
8 large strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 egg, lightly beaten for eggwash
2 tablespoons raw sugar
for the brown sugar labne
600g plain thick yogurt
120g brown sugar
For the brown sugar labne, place a sieve inside a bowl making sure there is some gap between the two to allow water to collect. Place a cheese cloth inside the sieve, hanging over the edges. Spoon yogurt on to the cheese cloth. Top with some brown sugar. Spoon some yogurt and continue layering till all yogurt and brown sugar is used up. Tie the ends of the cheese cloth, gather and press down. Place a heavy weight on top of the prepared parcel and set aside.
Heat milk in a saucepan to lukewarm. Remove from heat, stir in the yeast and stand in a warm place until foaming (about 3 to 4 minutes).
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine and process butter, brown sugar, egg, blood orange juice and half of the orange zest. Add yeast mixture and flour. Process to form a soft cake like dough. Turn onto a well floured surface and form into a smooth ball. Place in a lightly buttered bowl, cover with tea towel and set aside to rise for an hour.
Preheat oven to 180C. Turn dough onto a piece of baking paper dusted with flour. Pat the dough into a 25cm diamter round shape with the edges slightly raised. Make sure your hands are dusted with flour. Spread one third of labne over dough leaving a 2cm border. Scatter with strawberries and brush edges with eggwash. Scatter raw sugar and remaining orange zest over the brioche and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and cooked through.
Serve warm with extra labne.