Isn't it a pretty word, brioche
? Frankly, I find the names of all French pastries lovely, although I do not think that I am alone in this regard. My darling readers, mes petits vacherins. Or whatever. But brioche! with its darling little topknot. Its pans with baroque flutings. Its wash of egg and its many eggs, its butter, &c. Right, rich bread, you get the picture.
Once upon a time, I bought a brioche mold--just one--at Williams-Sonoma, for a far off day when I might get myself and my eggs and butter together to make this Richie McRich of breads, this extravagant dough, this homage to my longing for Frenchness. (Right, rich bread with extra rich on the side, &c.)
The day did arrive, and I did get it together, and I made the dough, lovingly, paying careful attention to the details of the recipe as if it weren't just bread which I have made a thousand times, but not with such a profligacy of ingredients, such a festival of fat! To be baked in a darling pan, but still--just dough.
I set the blessed dough to rise, and rise it did. I deflated it, and put it in its buttered tin to proof. Flour, milk, butter, eggs and more eggs, some sugar--that dough was about as gorgeous as it's possible for dough to be. I left the kitchen for the yeast to do its magic.
And upon my return, was there a fully proofed pan of brioche ready to go into the oven? And would there be brioche that day? There was not, and there would not. Instead there was a slightly gassy dog. That's right: the dog that ate my brioche.
(These are tearstained words, even at this remove: "The dog ate my brioche." Obviously, I could have made brioche again, but once I'd broken that many eggs and lost the dough to my dog, my faith in the whole process was a little bit damaged, to be absolutely honest. I just didn't have the heart.)
However, at the farmer's market this Saturday, our favorite baker had brioche. Not baked in a fluted pan--baked in a regular old loaf, all the better to slice it for toast or even French toast. French! It is lovely, and it is French, and yet it was baked in Logan, Utah. Is that exotic or what.