Every Christmas I make a Challah loaf; it has become an expected tradition. This year I decided I also wanted to make a loaf that was more festive so I searched my Bread Alone book by Daniel Leader and found Candied Orange Brioche. Never having made Brioche but wanting to and the added candied fruit seemed perfect for a festive bread. So I thought I should do a test run before the holidays to ensure I know what I am doing.
I won’t repeat the recipe here as you can find it in the book (which I highly recommend) or look it up on line, but it involves candied orange peel, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla and organic white flour.
First I candied the orange peel which starts with boiling the strips of peel in 1 inch of water for 4 minutes, draining them and then repeating the 4 minute boiling and draining twice more. This gets the bitterness out of peel. Next ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup water and the peels are simmered until they boil, stirring them occasionally. Once they boil the temperature is reduced to medium low and they simmer for 20 minutes. Never stir the solution during the 20 minutes or the sugar will crystalize. Occasionally swirl the pan in order to prevent any scorching.
The peel strips should be soft and translucent at the end. It took mine 25 minutes to get there but it depends on your strip size. (Mine were ¼ in by 2 to 3 inches.Lay the strips on a wire grill with a tray below and let them dry for 12 hours. The final step is to cut them into ¼ in by ¼ in segments.
Now you can make the bread which really needs a mixer with a dough hook as this dough starts out very sticky. I searched for a proper brioche pan but didn’t find one so I just used a regular 8 inch loaf pan and it worked fine.
The result was fantastic. The dough rose magnificently.
When baked it had a beautiful deep golden crust.
Best of all was the taste; sweet, buttery and rich with a hint of vanilla, yet very light. My only improvement would be to dice up the peels even smaller so they were distributed more throughout the bread.
To all the bakers out there; may your dough always rise perfectly!