brioche à la praline

Why, hello there, 2015! How are you? Exhausting, that’s how. We are a mere four days in and I already just want to curl up into a ball and sleep for a week. But seeing as that is not possible, I instead just daydream about all the delicious food I ate a Christmas-time.

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This year, Christmas breakfast was accompanied with homemade brioche laced with sugar-coated almonds. The morning was unusually humid so the dough didn’t rise as well as I would have liked it to, but it was still really delicious and rather easy to make.

Easy to make and not too time-consuming, however, should not be thought as two of the same, especially in this situation. Regardless of when you want your bread to be ready, you will need to start the day before; the dough is best when refrigerated overnight.

To make this delicious beauty, you will need…
240grams of flour
25grams of sugar
5grams of salt
7grams of instant yeast
70milliltres of milk
2 eggs
125grams of softened butter cubes

Mix your dry ingredients together before adding the milk and eggs. Use an electric mixer at a low speed for a couple of minutes before moving to a medium speed for another eight or so. Or use your own arm strength like me until you have an elastic dough like this.

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Mix in the butter a cube at a time; I find that this way the batter is smoother. Cover the dough with cling film at chill overnight, if you cant wait that long, a few hours should suffice.

DAY TWO
Roll your dough out into a large square on a surface dusted with flour; it should be about a centimetre thick. Brush the dough with egg wash and cut into 16 evenly sized pieces. Sprinkle about two thirds of almonds overtop, fold each piece in half and arrange them in a loaf tin. Brush again with egg wash and sprinkle the remaining almonds overtop before leaving in a warm place for 45 minutes to rise.

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Bake for 30 minutes at 180°C or until you can poke a knife into it without any dough sticking to it.

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The food colouring used in the almonds will run through the dough as the sugar coating the almonds melts giving it a beautiful marbled effect.
This is a perfect sweet snack to dunk into your coffee, and having divided the dough into pieces before baking, it is so easy to break into chunks and share with loved ones.

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jingle jingles

For me, the Christmas cooking always begins days in advance, and this year is no expectation.

I recently discovered that Brioche à la Praline (Praline Brioche) is a Lyonnais speciality, not just something that you can get all over France. And to say the least, I have become quite addicted to it. So I have decided that I am going to attempt to make my own for Christmas morning,

I haven’t even begun with the actual dough, but I have successfully created some brilliant red roasted almonds.

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It is actually really easy. Just take 100 grams of almonds, they should be blanched and can be skinless or skinful depending on what you can find and whatever you feel like using. Mix 40mls of water and 100 grams of sugar in a pot and bring to the boil. Don’t stir the mixture but swirl it every once in a while until the sugar has dissolved. Keep it boiling until it reached 135degrees; if you don’t have a thermometer, just guess when it looks like its kinda hot. Take it off the heat, stir the almonds in and scatter on a baking tray to cool.

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Mix another 40mls of water and 100 grams of sugar in the pot and add a bit of red or pink food coloring. Repeat the process and leave the almonds of the tray to cook before cutting them up roughly.

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Stay tuned to see how the hard part; the brioche dough, goes, and everything else on my Christmas menu!

winter is coming… maybe

Back home seasons don’t really count, sometimes winter starts a month early or summer arrives a month late, sometimes there are torrential rainstorms in the middle of summer and sometimes the weather behaves normally, but only sometimes. Whenever anyone talks about the seasons in Europe they seem to all conclude with stating that the seasonal weather works like clockwork, they also say that the winter in Lyon lasts about 8 months. So you can imagine that I was distraught when last week the weather seemed to snap from glorious summer stunning-ness to absolute rubbish. There was rain, there was thunder, there was the need for three layers of closing, there was almost tears (on my part) that my European summer was over.

However! To my delight this week has gone in the total reverse, although it is noticeably colder, the days have been rather stunning. So I decided to make the most of it while it was still here and head to the park.

Parc de la Tête d’Or is 117 hectares of lovely gardens, a lake used for boating and even a zoo. It was established as a public garden in 1857 with the first animals being brought in in 1861.

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The gardens were beautiful, however the zoo was a little bit disappointing. I had been told with was a little zoo but I didn’t really take that into account when setting my expectations. But little was right. It is safe to say that underwhelming was an overstatement, or understatement, whichever one means that I was not really impressed. There were maybe about ten different kinds of animals and none of them looked too happy in there enclosures, it seemed very early 1900’s exhibition than anything. But, there was a baby giraffe which was super cute, and it also happens that I was recently told that if I was an animal I would be a baby giraffe, so I think me and my new spirit animal definitely had a connection.

The park is the biggest garden with a zoo in it in all of Europe, and I really noticed how big it was when I got lost walking around. This was not so much as a bad thing, as I found some lovely statues and felt relaxed surrounded by all the nature.

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But after a while my legs started to hurt.

But it could have been worse, I could have been stuck in a tiny glass cage.

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