"Let them eat cake!" - a phrase (dubiously) attributed to Marie Antoinette. And the French do eat it - for breakfast! (Sort of.)
I'll explain. Brioche is a cross between cake and bread. It's made with flour, butter, and eggs - but where cake would have baking powder as its raising agent, brioche uses yeast.
Start by sifting some flour. Ladurée recommend using cake flour, which is bleached and has a lower gluten content than all-purpose flour. (NB: Not self-raising flour - cake flour doesn't contain a raising agent!) You don't see it too much in the UK - it can be replicated by replacing 1 tbsp of each 100g of plain flour with 1 tbsp corn flour. This should give cakes a lighter texture.
Add sugar and salt, and mix in the yeast. (The recipe called for live yeast - I used one packet of dried.)
Cut butter into cubes, and allow to soften.
Beat eggs together, and pour gradually over the flour, working in bit by bit. Once the eggs are incorparated, add the softened butter. The dough should be just about handle-able - the wetter, the better! It will dry out as it leavens - and if your dough is too dry, you will be left with a really dry, crumbly loaf. Your dough will have a rich, yellow colour from the butter and eggs.
Put the dough into a new, greased bowl, and cover with greased cling film. Leave at room temperature until doubled in size (about 2 hours).
Knock the dough back by stretching and folding in half, then leave in the fridge for a further 2 hours. Knock back a final time, and form a log shape. Place in a greased loaf tin. After two hours more, glaze with egg, and bake.
This is a long, drawn out process. Time enough to tidy up my mess! ;)
The finished product will have a moist and firm texture, and should slice easily.
At its best - toasted, with Bonne Maman jam!
What I changed: I used dry yeast, instead of fresh. Didn't seem to do it any harm!
**Disclaimer - I'm sorry that I won't be posting the full recipes, but as it's my aim to cook through all the recipes of the book, I don't want to end up getting sued! On the occasions when I'm making my own recipes, or when they're from sources other than the Ladurée book, they will be posted!**