This is a popular bread to serve with butter for breakfast in Belgium, but it is also perfect to serve with tea or coffee in the afternoon. It is a lean form of brioche, enriched with just a little butter, sugar, and egg. This version comes from Wittamer, the best pastry shop in Brussels. Yes, it's true.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm milk, about 110 degrees
- 2 large egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, very soft
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup dark raisins
- One 8½ × 4½ × 2¾-inch loaf pan, buttered and the bottom lined with a rectangle of parchment paper
1. Place 1½ cups of the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the yeast into the milk, then whisk in the yolks. Stir the liquids into the flour.
3. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on lowest speed for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
4. Add the butter, sugar, and salt to the bowl along with the remaining ½ cup of flour and mix on lowest speed until combined. Mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about another 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the raisins on lowest speed.
5. Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl and turn the dough over so that the top is buttered. Press plastic wrap against it and allow the dough to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
6. After the dough is risen, scrape it onto a floured work surface. Press the dough into a rectangle. To form a loaf, make sure the surface of the dough is free of any excess flour, then stretch the dough into a rough rectangle. Fold in the short ends of the dough until it is approximately the length of the pan, then fold the far long edge over to the middle. Fold over the other long side and compress to form a tight cylinder. Place the dough in the pan, seam side down. Cover with buttered plastic wrap. Allow the loaf to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
7. When the loaf is almost doubled, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
8. When the loaf has completely risen, place in the oven and bake until it is deep golden and the internal temperature is about 200 degrees, about 30 minutes.
9. Unmold the loaf to a rack to cool on its side.
Replace the raisins in the dough with 1/3 cup pearl sugar. After the dough has risen, form it into a disk about 8 inches in diameter and place it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or foil. Cover with buttered plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled. Brush the top of the loaf with beaten egg and cut two concentric circular slashes in the top of the loaf, about 1½ and 3 inches from the edge. Sprinkle more pearl sugar in the cuts. Bake as above.
This recipe serves 8.