2019 was a year of huge change for me. Most of it very good, but some of it was also very sad (I lost both my grandmothers within the space of a few months). At the start of last year I swapped my cosy one bed flat in the centre of Brussels for a two-bed place all of my own. While living slightly less centrally than before, I am loving the extra space I now have (including a separate office and a guest bedroom!). Shortly after that, and after more than 10 years, I finally left the world of big international law firms behind me and joined the legal team of Google here in Brussels. Somewhere in between moving into my new place and the first day at my new job, I also started a new relationship. And made it both to London to see my sister Helena get married and home to Germany to see my sister Judith get married (and that in a year that saw me travel more than I ever have before – 36 trips in total to 9 different countries). And of course, there was also Two Kitchens Brussels and our various supperclubs, cooking classes, a few catering gigs plus our pop-up apero at La Trinquette, one of my favourite wine bars in Brussels.
So to say that 2019 was a busy one is a bit of an understatement. So I am hoping that 2020 will bring with it a bit more calm and stability as I get settled into my new job and turn my flat into a home. But enough about me, let’s talk about this Sunshine Brioche. Named as such because it contains oranges in three different ways. So this is the perfect antidote to these seemingly endless cold and grey winter days.
The recipe was inspired by pastry I had at La Colombe Torrefaction in NYC when I was there with my friend Michelle almost 6 years ago. I don’t even remember much about the pastry besides that it was delicious and made me want to try and cram as much orange flavour into a brioche recipe as I could. And that I definitely succeeded in doing here – between the brioche dough and the filling, there is fresh orange juice and zest, some candied orange pieces as well as orange blossom water!
Notes: The brioche dough I used here is a little different from what you may be used to because it is made with olive oil instead of butter. I didn’t even know that making brioche with olive oil was a thing until I started researching Gibassiers. Stemming from the South of France (Provence more specifically), it should not have surprised me that many recipes for Gibassiers called for olive oil only or a mix of olive oil and butter (the same happens in Italy – the further South you move the more likely you are to find recipes using olive oil, with butter slowly disappearing from recipes). Somehow brioche made with olive oil allows the flavour of other ingredients to really shine (much more so than when made with butter), in this case the flavour of the orange zest and juice, candied orange and orange blossom water. To finish, the brioche is covered in a thin icing that is studded with some chopped candied orange and pearl sugar – a hint of what is hiding inside the brioche.
350g all purpose flour
3.5g dried active yeast (ca. 1.5 tsp) OR 20g fresh yeast
A pinch of salt
Juice and zest of 1 orange
50ml milk, warm
15ml orange blossom water
75ml olive oil
75g butter, melted
25g pearl sugar
50g candied orange, finely diced
15 ml orange blossom water
1/2 egg white
80g powdered sugar
25g pearl sugar
25g candied orange, diced
Whisk together the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Form a well in the centre and add the orange juice and zest, the milk, orange blossom water, olive oil and egg. Using a standmixer or a handheld mixer (or your hands) knead the dough until the ingredients are combined and the dough passes the window-pane test (i.e. you are able to stretch a piece of dough so thin you can see through it). If using a standmixer this should take 5-10 minutes (and if kneading by hand, this could take 15-20 minutes).
Set aside to proof somewhere warm for around 1.5-2h or until doubled in size. Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
Roll out into a rectangle that is about 4mm thick and with the short edge a bit shorter than the width of your loaf plan.
Mix together the filling ingredients and spread over the dough. Starting from the short side of your rectangle, tightly roll up your dough and place in the loaf tin. Cover and set aside somewhere warm for 45 minutes or until well risen and puffy.
30 minutes before you want to bake your brioche, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Bake for 35-40 mins at 180 degrees or until golden brown.
Leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before inverting on a cookie rack to cool completely.
For the glaze, whisk together the egg white with the powdered sugar and orange blossom water. Drizzle over the brioche and scatter the chopped candied orange and pearl sugar over the glaze before it is set.