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Spanish Citrus Brioche

Instead of butter, this beautiful brioche uses lightly flavored, extra virgin olive oil. The loaf is delicately perfumed with the zest of orange and lemon, and it is airy and flavorful. Use a fluted pan to give the classic brioche shape. Or bake the brioche in a loaf pan to allow you to make even slices. Stale brioche makes excellent french toast. Many recipes for brioche call for double risings of the dough and a rest overnight in the refrigerator. This version is quick and easy to put together in the food processor, but it can also be stirred together conventionally in a large bowl. It is not kneaded.

3 tablespoons warmed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large whole eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of an orange
Grated zest of a lemon
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons lightly flavored olive oil

Spritz a 4 1/2-cup fluted brioche mold or a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Heat the milk but allow it to become only warm, not hot.

Sprinkle the yeast over the bottom of a food processor and add the warm milk along with a small pinch of sugar, 1/3 cup flour and 1 egg. Pulse 8 to 10 times until you have a starter and the mixture is creamy.

Put the remaining flour on top of this starter but do not mix it in. Cover the bowl with the top of the food processor. Allow the mixture to stand until you can see that the starter has begun to foam and that the yeast is activated. Depending on the conditions in your kitchen, it can take from 15 minutes to an hour.

Add the other 2 eggs, sugar, salt and orange and lemon zests to the work bowl. Turn the machine on for 10-15 seconds, until the dough has come together to form a ball. Leave the machine on and pour the olive oil in a fine stream through the feed tube. The stream should be fine enough so that the ball holds its shape. The movement of the ball of dough around the edge of the bowl will work the oil into the dough.

If you are mixing by hand, work the oil into the dough a few tablespoons at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon until the oil is incorporated. The dough is fairly forgiving. In any case, the dough will be wet and creamy.

Spoon and scrape the dough into the brioche mold or bread pan. Although a "top knot" is traditional on individual brioches, it gets in the way of slicing on a larger loaf such as this one. I prefer to leave it off.

Allow the dough to rise to the top of the pan. Depending on the temperature of the kitchen, this can take from 1 to 2 hours. The dough will be very light and will have risen to about three times its original volume.

Bake the brioche in a preheated 375-degree oven for 30 minutes until it is golden brown and, when the bottom of the pan is thumped, it produces a hollow sound. Remove the loaf from the oven. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan and cool on a rack. Serve plain or toasted with jam or a fruit compote. A glass of dessert wine would be wonderful. Makes 1 loaf.

Adapted from Paula Wolfert recipe

Thursday, December 27, 2001

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