Sometimes when cooking, the result is great, "for something made at home". There are some things like croissants and macaroons that I know I'm never going to make like the experts. That's why it's so satisfying when you cook something that is delicious - full stop - no qualification.
A little while ago I made brioche. And it was perfect - just like the real thing!
The recipe is from the great baking section in the first Ottolenghi cookbook. You can make the dough on Saturday afternoon (as it needs to prove overnight in the fridge) ready to bake and eat fresh from the oven for Sunday brunch! The dough is very sticky and I was convinced (both times I made it) that I'd done something wrong, but the results proved otherwise.
2 tbsp lukewarm water
1 tsp active dried yeast or 1.5tsp fresh yeast
190g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
20g caster sugar
2 medium free range eggs at room temperature, plus 1 egg beaten to glaze the loaf
75g cold unsalted butter, cut into 2cm dice, plus extra melted butter for brushing the tin
1. Place the lukewarm water and yeast into a mixing bowl (for dry yeast leave it for 10 minutes to activate in the water). Gently stir in the yeast to dissolve.
2. Add all the other ingredients apart from the butter and mix until the flour is combined.
3. Using an electric mixer (either dough hook attachment or strong beater attachment) work the dough on a low speed for about 3 minutes. The dough becomes smooth but still quite sticky.
4. Increase the speed of your mixer and start adding the diced butter - add it gradually and wait until the cube of butter is almost incorporated before adding more. Once all the butter is added, keep working it until the dough is shiny, has no lumps of butter, and is not sticking to the sides of the bowl. (Ottolenghi says this will take about 9 minutes - the dough will be lukewarm, but make sure it doesn't get too hot). During the mixing, you may need to stop the machine, scrape dough from the sides and add a light sprinkling of flour.
5. Place the dough in a lightly greased large bowl. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for 1 hour. Next, put the bowl in the fridge and leave for 14-24 hours. (don't expect the dough to do much whilst in the fridge)
6. Lightly grease a 500g loaf tin with melted butter.
7. Remove the dough from the fridge and bowl and place on your bench. Dust lightly with flour and knock the dough down/back. Shape the dough into a log shape and place it inside the tin. Cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm for 2-3 hours until almost doubled in height.
8. Whilst the dough is proving, preheat the oven to 170C / gas Mark 3.
9. Before cooking the dough, brush lightly with beaten egg. Place the tin on an oven tray and place in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes - the loaf should be dark brown and baked through (test with a skewer) - I had to cook mine a little longer.
10. Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle, then take out of the tin and leave to cool completely.
Eat either fresh or toasted, with butter, jam, strawberries, cream - whatever you like! (use the leftovers for French toast!)