I own a bread machine and I actually use it. I’m not sure I know anyone who can say that. It seems like most bread machines are relegated to basements and second hand stores or gifted and regifted until they find themselves in one of the aforementioned spots. I think that most people who like to make bread like the tactile part of the process, kneading the dough, feeling the moisture level of it in their hands, punching it down, shaping it - that’s all part of the baking experience with breads. Others are so intimidated by yeast that even the bread machine can’t help them get over it. I’m one of the few that exists somewhere in the middle. I don't mind missing out on that kneading and artistry. I use my bread machine all the time and having it has taken some of the “fear” out of working with yeast for me in general, even when I’m not using it. I also love that I can just throw the ingredients in, set the timer, and have fresh bread in the morning.
Just recently, I started to use my bread machine to make dough for shaping and baking in the oven. This has definitely been one of those “ah-ha moments” for me, as I’ve been making no-knead pizza dough ever since burning out a gear in my stand mixer making dough a few years back. No-knead dough is incredible but requires more planning than I have in me most of the time. Bread machine to the rescue. Now I can throw the ingredients in, set the timer and have perfect pizza dough ready to bake when I get home from work. #winning. And while I’m winning, it occurred to me that I can make brioche dough in the bread machine too. I LOVE brioche. Pillowy, eggy, golden, beautiful brioche. I love you slathered with anything, or nothing at all.
Because making brioche dough is so easy in my bread machine (it’s pretty easy to make in a bowl too), I’ve been experimenting with different fillings and shapes. Here were two weekend winners for me.
Dr. Seuss bread - so called for its funny shape. You can read more about how to shape it here. I used the brioche recipe that came with my bread machine, which, by the way, was handed down twice and in a friend’s basement when I unloaded it from her (full-disclosure, it took me a couple of months to use it but ever since then, we’ve been thick as thieves). Here is a simple recipe that works great. I cut out the pieces, sprinkled them with cinnamon-sugar and slipped a few chocolate chunks inside before rolling them up and standing them upright in the pan. I let the dough rise in the pan overnight and before baking, I brushed the loaf with egg wash and sprinkled more cinnamon-sugar over the whole thing.
Then, with the leftover dough, I made bagel bites. I rolled out the dough in portions, stuck a ball of cream cheese in the center and closed the dough over it. I let these rise overnight and in the morning, after preheating my oven, I brushed them with egg wash and sprinkled them with everything bagel seasoning.
We devoured pretty much all of this buttery deliciousness. Emmett was really into the Dr. Seuss loaf and, after eating little else for a 24-hour period, insisted on taking some to school for his snack on Monday. Me, Paul, Isla and Eve polished off the bagel bites in short order.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that we also had a cherry and almond cream brioche loaf earlier in the week? I have got to stop the insanity. But it’s SO hard. I’m partial to the little filled buns and I’m already thinking of new variations. Almond cream, Nutella, Speculous, peanut butter, black sesame, honey-tahini? Yes to all. Or savory versions like blue cheese and bacon, jalapeno-cheddar, pimento cheese, pulled pork or sundried tomato? Yes again. You could make one large batch of dough and a few different fillings and there would be something for everyone. Our bagel bites never made it past the counter but I’m sure they would be welcome at a brunch get together or playdate. How about corned beef and cabbage filled brioche buns for your Saint Patrick's Day festivities?
Looks like I've got my work cut out for me. Happy weekend!