Brioche à la fleur d’oranger

“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” Molière

November has been quite a moody month so far, with torrential rain and strong winds. There’s a certain melancholy saying goodbye to the last melons, berries and roses. There’s even a hint of frost in the morning, a gentle reminder that cold winter days are ahead. This is the best time to get cozy with a warm cup of tea sitting by the fireplace. It’s also the most inspiring time to bake. As soon as I feel slightly chilled, I want to prepare something delicious with a mesmerizing aroma filling up the house. I have a special passion for eau de fleur d’oranger (orange blossom water). It’s one of the ingredients I use most in my cooking, especially for waffles, pancakes, madeleines and brioches. The smell is pure comfort, which is exactly what I need right now. So what a better idea than baking a brioche à la fleur d’oranger. My family and I love having goûters with thick slices of brioche with butter and jam, along with hot chocolates for the kids. It’s such a timeless moment of joy. The thicker the slice, the more fun it is. If childhood had a scent, it would be the aroma of orange flower blossoms.

It does take time to prepare a good brioche, but it is so simple to make. I would advise to make this in the evening and let it rise overnight. When you wake up, you’ll just have to knead the dough for a few minutes and let it rise a little longer. Then it’s off to the oven for a brioche bien ‘dorée et gonflée‘ (golden & puffed up)!

300 g/ 2 cups 3/4 plain flour (sifted)
2 eggs
50 g/ 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pack of baker’s yeast (8 g/ 1 tbsp)
90 g/ 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp butter (cubed, at room temperature)
1 tbsp butter (for lining mould)
1 pinch of salt
90 ml/ 1/3 cup lukewarm milk
30 ml/ 2 tbsp orange blossom water
2 tbsp lukewarm water (to dissolve yeast)
1 egg for glazing
A handful of small sugar grains (to sprinkle on brioche – optional)

Note: I used a traditional brioche mould, but you can really use any types you wish. It can be baked in a deep cake tin or a rectangular tin.

Dissolve the yeast in a small bowl with 2 tbsp of lukewarm water. Set aside for 5-10 minutes or until it turns frothy. In a large bowl, mix sifted flour, salt, sugar, yeast and butter. Add eggs and milk gradually and mix well with a big wooden spoon. Start kneading until you get a smooth ball-shaped dough, about 8-10 minutes. Cover bowl with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm room/environment overnight.
The next day: Start kneading the dough on a non floured surface, just to get rid of a few trapped air bubbles, about 1-2 minutes. Line the brioche mould generously with butter and place the dough inside. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise again for 1 to 2 hours (depending on how patient you are!). Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F. With the help of a brush, glaze the surface of the brioche with the egg. Sprinkle with sugar grains all over and bake brioche for 30 minutes. If the top starts to brown too much, place a sheet of parchment paper to protect.