Simple Brioche Recipe From Italian Easter
A Venetian yeast cake traditionally eaten at Easter time, this sweet focaccia is now found all year round in Venice. Unlike French brioche, it has quite a dense crumb and contains less butter and eggs. It is eaten for breakfast dipped in caffè latte, or as an afternoon snack, plain or spread with jam.
30 minutes preparation time
2 hours 50 minutes resting time
30–40 minutes cooking time
- 20 g (¾ oz) fresh yeast or 1 sachet (7 g/¼ oz) dried yeast
- 80–100 ml (2½–3½ fl oz) lukewarm milk
- 600 g (1 lb 5 oz/4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra, for the cake tin
- 100 g (3½ oz) butter, softened
- 120 g (4¼ oz) sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon (preferably unwaxed)
- 150 ml (5 fl oz) milk
- 80 ml (2½ fl oz/ 1 /3 cup) rum
- 4 egg yolks
- 30 g (1 oz) butter, melted, plus extra, for greasing
- 1 egg, beaten, for glazing
- For the icing (optional)
- 150 g (5½ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
- 1 egg white
- 20 ml (½ fl oz) rum
- 120 g (4¼ oz/¾ cup) toasted almonds, chopped
Combine the fresh yeast with the lukewarm milk in a mixing bowl, then add 150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) of the flour and work the mixture together briefly to combine. (If you are using dried yeast, combine it directly with the flour, then add the milk.) Cover and let this mixture rest for 20 minutes.
Cut the softened butter into small pieces and mix them into the yeast mixture. Add the sugar, salt, lemon zest, milk and rum, then the remaining flour and the egg yolks, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Knead the dough well by hand or use an electric stand mixer, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 2 hours in a warm (24°C/75°F) place: the dough should double in size.
Knead the dough again for a few seconds, divide it into 16 portions and brush each portion generously with melted butter. Grease and flour a 26 cm (10½ inch) round cake tin. Shape the dough portions into balls and arrange them in the tin. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Brush the balls of dough with the beaten egg. Bake for 30–40 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden brown. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.
For the icing, if using, lightly beat the icing sugar with the egg white and rum until the mixture is smooth. Pour over the focaccia while it is still warm and scatter with the chopped almonds.
The focaccia will keep, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.