Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Brioche used to be my favorite bread once upon a non-vegan time and, I admit, I've never quite gotten over it.
There is something magical about a bread with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a crust that's perfectly flaky and brittle. So much so that you cannot but forgive and forget all those calories crammed inside of it.
I hadn't before baked a vegan brioche, and although I had often toyed with the idea of making it with vegan butter, like Earth Balance, I never got around to it.
Until last week when I brought home a bag of perfect avocados.
I needed to think of a way to use them, fast, and I just wasn't in the mood for guacamole. That's when inspiration hit. Avocado brioche!
Avocados are really an excellent substitute for butter because they are high in fat (the good kind, unlike butter) and they have a creamy texture when mashed which is not unlike that of butter.
I googled up some recipes for avocado bread, but all were invariably for sweet breads, which I wasn't looking for. So I decided to improvise on the recipe I'd always used for regular brioche, substituting for the eggs and the butter with two avocados and just two tablespoons of the vegan version of Smart Balance "butter."
Looking back, I wouldn't do anything differently, except, maybe, reduce the baking temperature, because the top fell just a wee bit in the oven. It didn't take away, though, in any way from the beautiful, flaky texture of the brioche, or the amazing flavor. The bread had a lovely golden crust and was an exquisite pale green on the inside.
So here we go with my vegan avocado brioche. It's much healthier than your regular brioche, and tastes just as good. Already it has gone to the top of my list of favorite recipes.
I think this bread will be a great entry for the wonderful Colored Breads event, hosted by Grain Power.
(Makes 12 servings. See detailed nutritional information after recipe)
Mix together in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand 5 minutes:
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/3 cup almond milk (can use soy milk)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 ripe avocados, mashed until there are no lumps (I put them through a potato ricer which did a perfect job). Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into the avocado so it remains bright green.
2 tbsp almond or soy milk
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Mix on low speed or by hand. Then add:
2 1/4 cups bread flour
Mix well until ingredients have blended together. Then, knead by hand for about 15 minutes or on low-medium speed in a stand mixer for about 8-10 minutes. The dough will be smooth and elastic and although it will appear sticky, it won't stick to your fingers.
Add 2 tbsp vegan "butter" like Smart Balance or Earth Balance.
Knead on medium-high speed or by hand until the "butter" is incorporated into the dough.
Place the dough in an oil-coated bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled.
Punch the dough down, then cover again and let rise for another 2 hours.
To shape the dough, divide it into four equal portions. Shape each portion into a smooth ball.
Spray oil on the inside of a standard 9 X 5-inch loaf pan.
Place the four balls of dough touching each other inside the loaf pan. Brush with some olive oil mixed with salt.
Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise another hour or until the loaf fills the pan and mushrooms over it.
Brush some more of the olive-oil-salt mixture over the top.
Bake in a 375-degree oven about 30 minutes. (The next time I plan to decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake a little longer, if needed, to prevent the top from heating too fast).
(Nutritional facts per serving: Calories, 209; Fat: 5.5 g (saturated fat 0.7 g, polyunsaturated fat 0.8 g, monounsaturated fat 3.1 g); Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 31.4 g, Dietary fiber: 2.9 g, Protein 4.8 g)
If you enjoy bread-making, you might also want to try my Vegan Challah or my Soymilk Pompoms.