In the meantime, the term "let them eat cake" came up at work one day, and upon a little research, I was perplexed to find out that the actual french term is "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" and that it was meant to be sarcastic, referring to peasants eating not actual cake but brioche - a lavish French bread often consumed by the elite in medievel France. My first thought was that this little translation error was a a huge mistake - who confuses cake with bread? But as I thought about it, I realized that the cake/bread line is often blurred. Let's face it, banana bread is cake. Pumpkin bread is cake. Marketing companies must have realized that bread sounds much healtheir than cake and capitalized on the confusion.
Regardless of your stance in the cake vs. bread debate, I was intriguied by the idea of brioche and decided it would be my experiment for the yeast theme. Brioche is typically baked in small bun-sized loaves, but I have heard good things about using brioche in French toast and as sandwich bread, so I baked up a full, 1.5 pound loaf. I also cheated (a little) and used my bread machine to do the kneading and baking, so it could do it thing while I slept. I've found that I usually need to toss bread machine-baked loaves into the oven for a few minutes to crisp up the crust, but otherwise it does a great job and doesn't require me to watch an oven or entertain myself while I wait for a rise cycle.
Whether you kneed by hand or solicit a little help, this is a wonderful recipe! The egg and butter make for a rich loaf, perfect as toast, French toast, or the foundation of a fantastic sandwich.
3 large eggs
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 tablespoons water
1/3 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour (I used AP but bread would probably be even better)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
Bread Machine Directions:
Beat eggs and combine with milk, butter, water and sugar. Pour into bread pan. Measure flour and place on top of liquid ingredients. Make 2 small wells in flour and place instant yeast and salt in each, careful not to let them touch.
Set machine for a 1.5-pound, light crust loaf on the "sweet" or basic setting. Enjoy!
Place ingredients in machine as described above, but on the "dough" setting. When finished, remove dough from machine, divide into 3 equal portions and braid. Cover with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, roughly 45 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.