Happy May! I’m making this balsamic strawberry brioche toast as a combination birthday sweet and Mother’s Day treat for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve already been indulged for my birthday and I’m maybe 85% sure there’ll be some kind of breakfast whipped up by daughter this Sunday for Mother’s Day, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little more dessert in between.
I was inspired after visiting Balsamic Vinegar of Modena at Pebble Beach Food and Wine this year to use their balsamic vinegar in a dish. What more classic combination than balsamic vinegar and strawberries, and what better brunch/dessert dish than fruit over rich brioche toast? I was also inspired by the Strawberry Soiree I also recently attended (see highlights on my Instagram), thrown by the CA Strawberry Commission. They have the enviable job of encouraging people to snack more on strawberries – I don’t need much convincing especially since we’re in strawberry season now.
Although strawberries are sweet, macerated in balsamic vinegar take on a new, almost savory richness that raises them to star dessert status. The longer you macerate them, the more intense the flavors will be – usually about half an hour is ideal with ripe strawberries, as any longer and the berries may start to fall apart. For that reason, it’s best to serve them right away too; if you’ve got the brioche ready, everything can be assembled at the last minute. A thick slice of toasted brioche with a dollop of whipped cream topped with balsamic vinegar strawberries makes for a perfect sweet brunch or dessert – and I’ve tried it both ways!
I haven’t made brioche in a while, so here’s mine in in all its golden fluffy glory. If you’re in a pinch, you can easily use brioche from your favorite grocery store or bakery, but brioche is pretty simple to make, and I find it a lot more forgiving than plain old water+flour+salt bread. Since there’s so much more moisture in brioche from the eggs and butter, it’s hard for not to come out delicious.
The brioche recipe is adapted from one of my old favorites, and it makes enough for two loaves of bread. Although many brioche recipes have you simply place the dough into the pan (and that’s totally fine), I like to divide my dough further into pieces and roll them up like I do for my milk bread – I like the final baked shape of the loaf made with rolls. Click the link to my milk bread post for more photos on how I roll up the dough.
Here’s a nice shot of the interior of the brioche loaf. Since the dough is so rich, one issue I have encountered is that the top of the bread will brown before the rest of the bread has finished baking. You can check after about 20 minutes and if it seems like the tops are getting dark already, you can tent foil over the top to protect it for the remainder of the bake time.
There’s almost nothing more delectable to me than pulling apart a warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven piece of brioche, so don’t forget to try that even if you’re intending to use yours for toast! Wait until it cools completely before slicing it up for toast. And with the leftovers, you can make another lovely brunch dish: brioche French toast! I might need to document that next…
Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there!
- 3 cups (15 oz) bread flour
- 20 tablespoons (10 oz ) unsalted butter, cold
- 1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- ⅓ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
- 5 large eggs, cold
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 large egg for egg wash
- 3 cups (500 g) strawberries
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Place the flour into a bowl, cover, and chill in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will help keep the dough cool while you are mixing it and prevent the butter from melting.
- Cut the butter into 1-in pieces and place in the mixer bowl. Beat with the paddle only until the butter is smooth and there are no hard lumps; do not overbeat and let it get soft and creamy. Place the butter in a bowl, cover, and store in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the dough.
- Place the yeast, water and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a clean mixer bowl and let the yeast dissolve.
- Add the ⅓ cup sugar, eggs, sour cream, salt, and chilled flour, and mix with the dough hook on low speed until all the ingredients are combined.
- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes on medium speed until it forms a ball around the dough hook and is moist and sticky but not gooey or mushy; you should be able to form it into a cohesive ball.
- Add the cold butter a few pieces at a time, letting them incorporate into the dough before adding more. Scrape the bowl down as necessary.
- Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and cover. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.
- When you are ready to make the brioche: Butter two 5"x9" loaf pans.
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator and scrape out on a floured surface. Cut into two pieces and roll out each piece into a rectangle about ½" thick. Cut each piece on the long side into five separate pieces.
- Roll up each piece on the long side, pressing down firmly on the seam to completely seal it. Place these pieces into the prepared pans, five rolls to each pan.
- Cover the pans with plastic wrap and place in a warm place. Let the dough rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the final egg with about a teaspoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the tops of the brioche with the egg wash, avoiding the sides of the pan (otherwise the egg will make your dough stick to the pan and it will rise unevenly).
- Bake the brioche for about 25-30 minutes, until the tops are deep golden brown and the bottoms of the pans sound hollow when tapped.
- Cool brioche on a wire rack for about 5 minutes, then unmold and let finish cooling. They are best eaten warm, but you can easily rewarm them in the oven or toast older brioche.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and let sit for about 20 minutes to let the strawberries macerate.
- Drain the strawberries, reserving the syrup.
- Put the syrup in a saucepan and bring to boil until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat.
- Beat the whipping cream in a stand mixer with whisk attachment until soft peaks form.
- Slice and toast the brioche. Scoop some whipped cream on top of each slice. Top with some of the strawberries and drizzle some of the syrup over the strawberries.