One of the joys I remember vividly from childhood summers spent camping in a friend’s garden in the Pyrenees was the breakfast. We would wake up to find yards of thin, fresh baguette and fluffy brioche to dip in hot chocolate. I was surprised, and delighted, to find that this was a legitimate breakfast. Even with our parents present.
I went to Paris recently, having been to the south of France many times, but never the capital. I composed a mental ‘food list’, which included snails, duck confit, Nutella crepes (all accomplished). One of my first things to tick off was that lovely breakfast, evoking memories of lazy, sunny mornings with nothing to do for the rest of the day but eat.
Happily, we found this lovely bakery near our apartment in Montmartre. We had brioche rolls and hot chocolate, along with pistachio and almond croissants and pain au chocolat. It’s fair to say we returned to this bakery with obsessive, waistline-troubling regularity during our stay in Paris.
I arrived home intent on recreating the delicate little brioche rolls. Brioche works just as well as part of a savoury meal; these rolls are adapted from a recipe for brioche burger buns. I ate mine both dipped in hot chocolate (of course) and spread, a little smugly, with homemade plum and amaretto jam.
Recipe adapted from What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ tbsp. caster sugar
4 large free range eggs
600g strong white bread flour
1 tsp dried yeast
250ml milk, warmed slightly, plus 1 tbsp extra
handful sesame seeds (optional)
Beat together the butter, sugar and 3 of the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast to the warm milk and leave to stand for a few minutes, to activate the yeast. Add the flour and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk and yeast. Bring together using your hands- the dough will be quite sticky but don’t be tempted to add more flour. Knead gently, then cover the bowl with a clean tea towel, and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, which will take about 1 ½-2 hours.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 12 roughly equal portions, then roll them into balls. Place on a floured baking tray, cover with the tea towel and leave to rise again for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Mix the remaining egg with a tbsp of milk, brush the buns with this mixture, then sprinkle on a few sesame seeds, if using. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. They are done when the bottom of a roll sounds hollow when tapped. Leave to cool on a wire rack, or scoff straight away.