This simple brioche is a wonderfully rich, fine-textured loaf, with an eggy, buttery flavor to it. The triple rising, and extra kneading contribute to the fine crumb, and provide pleasant exercise for the cook. I enjoy this bread as buttered toast. It will also make a fine french toast, though somewhat fragile to handle.
1) Combine milk, butter and sugar in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, pour into a large mixing bowl, and let cool to lukewarm. (105 to 115 F)
2) Stir in yeast and let stand for ten minutes. If the yeast doesn't foam up in that time, throw the stuff out and start over. Stir in salt. Beat eggs thoroughly in a small bowl, and add to milk mixture. Stir in the flour, one cup at a time. You will have a fairly sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Wash and dry the mixing bowl.
3) Sprinkle additional flour over dough and begin to knead, adding more flour as necessary to achieve a smooth, elastic dough. This should take about ten minutes. Form into a ball.
4) Put the vegetable oil into the mixing bowl. Add dough, and turn over to coat in vegetable oil. Cover with a towel and set aside to rise until tripled in bulk-about 2 hours. My favorite rising location, especially in the winter when cold air would slow the process down, is inside the microwave oven. Start by boiling a cup of water in the oven before placing the mixing bowl inside. This makes for a warm and moist environment-just right for yeast. (don't forget the dough and accidently microwave it!)
5) After it has risen, punch dough down, turn onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for three or four minutes. Return to bowl, cover, and let rise again until doubled, another 1 to 2 hours.
6) Divide dough into two portions. Lightly butter two loaf pans, 9 X 5 X 3 inches (not if they are terra-cotta). I like terra-cotta or earthenware pans for this bread. Form dough into rectangles and roll tightly. Place in pan seam down. Press the dough down into loaf pan. Let rise until doubled. If you wish, you may brush the top with melted butter.
7) Preheat oven to 375 F.
8) Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until light golden brown.
9) Turn out of loaf pans and let cool on wire rack. Bread will keep for up to six months in the freezer, if first tightly wrapped in at least two layers of plastic wrap.
Silver Palate Cookbook, Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, Workman Publishing, 1982, 346 pgs. plus index.