Brioche Loaf for a Stormy Day

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It was early in the first ray of morning light.   My favorite time of day.  Everything is hushed.  Everything is sleeping.  I slip out of bed, put on my shoes and head out into the coolness to look for morning's delights.

I know when I return home there is something waiting to be toasted.  Something to be smoothed with butter and dolloped with fig jam.  

Brioche.  Nothing evokes such strong mental emotions for me as does this bread.  I don't know why.  Why question why?  

It is raining here in Houston.  Solid rain...drenching the earth that has been so parched and overlooked.  Rumbles of thunder have Chester and Polly snuggling in beside us.  They search our eyes to see if the world is alright and then they burrow in again for a long and restful sleep.

The heady aromas of yeast permeate the house as this ancient bread grows in the oven.  I love weather when it is big and bold.  I like the soft diffused light inside as we witness nature's glory.

There was a lull in the rain mid-day.  I decided to check out  a new pond that I noticed the other day.  As I relaxed in the middle of a grouping of trees, these odd ducks waddled around and nestled all around me.  They kept a wary eye on my camera but didn't seemed too perturbed by my intrusion.  This one duck caught my attention because of the colors of his feathers.  They were beautiful shades of turquoise and green that I thought represented some of the hues of September.

Fig jam on brioche.  Does it get any better I ask you?  I do really like this recipe.  Not because it makes THREE loaves in one recipe but it is consistently reliable.  Every batch always comes out the same.  Reliable.

The winds do blow here in Texas.  Now that the temperatures are edging their way down, it's time for the outdoors to become the stage of life.  People flock outside to enjoy the cool breezes.  Air conditioners are shut off and windows are thrown open.  

Well, not yet.  But soon.

When I was visiting this newly discovered pond and visiting with these friendly ducks, this waterfall enchanted me with its bubbling and soothing sounds.  The ducks lazily paddled around it before settling down in the grass to snooze the afternoon away.

Brioche Loaf  (makes 3 loaves)
From the Bon Appetit issue February 2003

1/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1/3 cup warm milk (105°F to 115°F)
2 envelopes dry yeast (14g total)
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, each stick cut into 4 pieces, room temperature
1 egg, beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze)

Place 1/3 cup warm water, warm milk, and yeast in bowl of standing heavy-duty mixer; stir until yeast dissolves. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add flour and salt to bowl; mix on low speed just until flour is moistened, about 10 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in 3 eggs on low speed, then add sugar. Increase speed to medium and beat until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding next (dough will be soft and batter-like). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Lift up dough around edges and allow dough to fall and deflate in bowl. Cover bowl with plastic and chill until dough stops rising, lifting up dough around edges and allowing dough to fall and deflate in bowl every 30 minutes, about 2 hours total. Cover bowl with plastic; chill dough overnight.
Butter and flour three 7 1/2x3 1/2x2-inch loaf pans. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Cut each dough piece into 4 equal pieces. Roll each into 3 1/2-inch-long log, forming 12 logs total. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in bottom of each prepared loaf pan. Place loaf pans on baking sheet. Cover pans with waxed paper. Let loaves rise at room temperature until dough almost fills pans, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Gently brush top of loaves with egg glaze. Bake until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes. Turn loaves out onto racks; cool at least 1 hour. (Can be made ahead. Cool completely. Wrap loaves in foil; place in resealable plastic bags and store at room temperature 1 day or freeze up to 1 month. Rewarm room-temperature or thawed loaves wrapped in foil in 350°F oven about 15 minutes, if desired.)

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