Occasionally I am blessed with a large group of guinea pigs…ahem…friends on whom I can try new recipes. This week was Sam’s and my turn to bring snacks to our Tuesday-night Bible study, so I ventured into unknown territory and made a new recipe: Baklava Brioche, an egg-rich yeast bread filled with a pistachio-honey mixture. Since the recipe for this bread comes from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I got to take advantage of the book’s signature bread making method: mix the dough the night before, let rest in the refrigerator overnight (no need to knead!) and shape and bake the next day. With a little planning and this special method, an otherwise complicated bakery-style bread becomes accessible to the home baker.
The bread dough incorporates white whole wheat flour (to make it the tiniest bit healthier) and vital wheat gluten (to help the whole grain dough rise). Honey, eggs and butter create the soft, pillowy texture typical of brioche. The pistachio filling is similar to a baklava filling: ground pistachios, honey, brown sugar, butter. With all the butter, sugar and eggs in the bread, you might be wondering if I made a typo in quoting the cookbook name: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. No, this is indeed the correct cookbook; just think of this Baklava Brioche as special occasion bread, perfect for a gathering with friends or an Easter brunch. It’s good to watch what we eat, but sometimes it’s good to break the rules. And with this Baklava Brioche, I think you’ll find it’s quite easy to break the rules, even if you are at Bible study.
Makes one 2-pound brioche
AKA Pistachio Twist, recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, p 297
1½ pounds whole wheat brioche dough (see recipe below)
1 cup finely ground pistachios
½ cup brown sugar
2½ teaspoons orange blossom water or rose water
3 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
To Brush/Sprinkle on top of Loaf:
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water)
1 Tablespoon finely ground pistachios
- Make the pistachio filling: Combine the ingredients for the pistachio filling in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough and cut off a 1½ -pound (small cantaloupe-size) piece of dough. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
- With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is a ?-inch-thick rectangle. As you roll out the dough, use enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface, but not so much as to make it dry.
- Spread the pistachio filling evenly over the rolled-out dough. Roll the dough into a log, starting at the long end. Pinch the seam closed.
- Gently stretch the log of dough so that it becomes thinner, about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Fold the log in half and gently twist the log like a twist tie. Lay it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Cover the log loosely with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for about 1 hour.
- Fifteen minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven. (Or adjust preheating time according to the temperament of your oven)
- Brush the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar and the 1 tablespoon of ground pistachios. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and well set in the center.
- Allow the brioche to cool on a rack before slicing and eating.
Whole Wheat Brioche Dough
Makes enough dough for at least two 2-pound loaves
Recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, p 275
Ok, here’s the complicated part: this recipe makes more than twice the amount of dough you’ll need for the Baklava Brioche above. You can either (a) cut the recipe in half, guessing what half of 5 eggs looks like (this is what I did) (b) or you can make a full batch of dough and freeze the rest for another loaf of Baklava Brioche in the future (c) or you could experiment with another type of filling (such as cinnamon sugar) with the remaining dough.
4 cups white whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ Tablespoons granulated yeast, or 2 packets
1 Tablespoon kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons table salt)
¼ cup vital wheat gluten
2 cups lukewarm water
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¾ cup honey
5 large eggs
- Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
- Combine the liquid ingredients and mix them with the dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty mixer (with paddle). The dough will be loose, but it will become firmer when chilled. You may notice lumps in the dough, but they will disappear in your finished product.
- Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
- Don’t try to use it as it is without chilling for at least 2 hours. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days, or store the dough in the freezer for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. Freeze the dough in 2-pound portions. When using frozen dough, thaw it in the refrigerator 24 hours before use, then allow the usual rest/rise time.