For someone who really enjoys the finer ingredients in life, I am quite the frugal shopper when it comes to buying groceries. There used to be this really cheesy game show called Supermarket Sweep (I believe that I am the only person who watched this show, which was on right before the equally popular Shop 'til You Drop.) The show required teams of contestants to showcase their grocery product acumen. At the end of the show, the contestants raced through the mock supermarket, trying to fill their grocery carts with the priciest items before time ran out. Today, I would have a really good shot at winning this show, because I can tell you the going price of just about anything in aisles 1-12 and the surrounding perimeter.
Each shopping trip is viewed almost as a challenge to get the lowest total price while still buying the items that I need. If I need good cheeses and inexpensive dairy, I go to Trader Joe's. For basics, the local Smith's will suffice. Whole Foods? Well......let's just say that I found a half-pint of blueberries there for $8.00 the other day. No, that was not a misprint--half-pint for $8.00. I'm still reeling from that, so it might be a while before I head back to Whole
These days, as we all are painfully aware of, it has become increasingly hard to finish a trip to the grocery store with a smile. It is common to she shoppers scrutinizing their receipts, trying to figure out how on earth a gallon of milk, a box of Wheaties, chicken breasts, and some veggies came to $43.22. And bread! As I've mentioned before, good bread is one of my indulgences, and I cannot seem to find a decent loaf for under $4.50-----so, I've decided to make my own. Yes, it's a bit more time consuming, but there something largely satisfying about baking your own bread, and it tastes soooo much better. Some of my go-to recipes, I have previously posted on this site, such as Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread, Whole Wheat Maple Oatmeal Bread, and Lemon-Rosemary Bread.
Yesterday, I decided to make brioche, a rich and buttery French bread, which can really act as a dessert. A few weeks back, I had found a great deal on eggs at Trader Joes, but I over-ambitiously bought too many, so brioche was a great way to use them up. Despite the fact that this recipe calls for 1/2-pound of butter and 9 eggs, it makes 2 very large loaves, and even a small slice is very satisfying. Brioche can be eaten toasted (no butter required,) as a base for bread pudding, topped with berries, or used for making French toast. Here are some extra tips for this sweet swirled French bread:
- The baked loaves can be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to two weeks.
- I like to use a mixture of whole wheat and regular flours for this recipe, but if you prefer, you can use all white flour.
- Don't be alarmed if the dough hasn't risen to the indicated level in the estimated time frame. Heat, humidity, and various other factors all come into play here, so the actual amount of time that your dough requires to rise may vary. If your kitchen tends to be cool, turn the oven on for 1 minute and then turn it off. Place the covered bowl in the oven to rise in a warmer environment.
- For variations on the filling, use semisweet or even milk chocolate, if that is what you prefer. I have also done this recipe with a cinnamon sugar filling. I mix sugar (or brown sugar) with a little bit of cinnamon, spread a thin layer of softened butter on the surface of the brioche, and then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over the butter.
- If the loaves start to brown too quickly during the baking process, then cover them with foil for the remainder of the time.
Chocolate Swirled Brioche Loaves
Makes 2 loaves
1 cup butter, softened, plus more for bowl and pans
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups flour
1 - 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
9 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
Coarse sanding sugar (optional)
Butter a large bowl and set it aside. Stir together the warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar, and the yeast in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Put the 3 cups of flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture and mix on medium speed until well combined. A 8 eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix until well combined, about 2 minutes. Replace the paddle with a dough hook and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Mix until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 8 minutes. If the dough is very sticky and wet, add up to 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and mix to combine. Transfer the dough to the buttered bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours. Punch the dough down; cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
Butter two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 loaf pans; set aside. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Roll out each half into a 7 by 15-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the chocolate over the rectangles. Starting from a short side, tightly roll each into a log and pinch the seams to seal. Place each log, seam side down, in a buttered pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel; let rise at room temperature until the dough reaches the rim of the pans, about 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the loaves with the egg. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired, and bake until the tops are deep golden brown, about 35 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen, and turn out onto a wire rack; let cool completely.