Lavender Brioche French Toast
We’re going to take the scenic route to breakfast.
Don’t worry, I do this often in life… usually it’s because I’m stubborn and I don’t like to use the navigation app on my phone.
By way of breakfast, we’re taking the scenic route by first… making a casual loaf of really lovely lavender brioche bread.
Ok yea. It’s a scenic detour that requires heart and soul, time and self-patience. But trust! I wouldn’t get you into something you can’t handle. I’m not asking you to wake up first thing on Sunday morning, slap on the mascara and get cooking. I have a better plan. If you’re anything like me… and listen, I know you are… you spend at least a portion of your Saturday night bra-less and pitzing around in the kitchen. Maybe Law & Order SVU reruns are on. Maybe you’re just living your truest truth. Point is… in that sacred time, you could be making a beautiful loaf of this lavender brioche for the next morning’s breakfast.
I’m not trying to intrude. I just believe in you and bread and bra-less cooking.
This recipe is a combination of recipes two recipes from Over Easy. The Buttered Pecan French Toast + Lavender Brioche Bread – the buttered pecans + a few slices of bacon and a bra. That’s the math if you really want to get into specifics.
We’ll start by making the bread which… well, I know it might feel like a deeply laborious thing to do just to end up with french toast on your plate, but we’re in this together.
And if you happen to feel like it’s not worth it and want to take the fast track to french toast, I certainly wouldn’t be mad at you for buying brioche. I just want you to breakfast well. It’s friendship care.
If you’re making bread… it starts with flour in a bowl. You’ve done that before. It’s not so bad.
Brioche is a beautifully forgiving dough thanks to a good amount of fat.
Fat is notorious for making yeasted doughs pliable, happy, and easy to work with.
In a small saucepan we’ll melt butter and add milk.
To the milky butter we’ll also add honey for sweetness…
and dried culinary lavender to create a deeply fragrant and flavorful dough.
The mixture is heated to warm, just enough to dissolve the honey and bloom the lavender.
Yeast! I used active dry yeast and added it to the warm butter / milk / honey mish-mash.
Remember a moment ago when I said that fat makes a brioche batter easy to work with! Add eggs to the list. Two eggs in the dough will make it velvet soft! It’s really one of my favorite doughs.
In this mixer I have our milky yeasty butter mixture + two eggs and now that flour we so tenderly placed in a bowl earlier.
Salt too! Don’t forget the balance!
Worked into a shaggy dough.
The dough was feeling a bit sticky to me so I added the remaining flour and worked the dough into a mostly smooth and soft dough.
The best part is working the dough with your hands into a smooth round.
If you want to kiss it, that makes sense to me too.
Into a greased bowl to rest, covered, until doubled in size… nice and fluffy.
Once the dough is risen.
Are you still with me?
Flop it onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a mostly deflated round.
Feel free to use less flour that I show here. When kneading the dough into ropes, the less flour the better… you’ll appreciate a little stick and counter resistance.
Divide the dough ball into three mostly-equal pieces.
Roll each into ropes.
This is where you’ll want less flour and more stick to your counter space.
I braid my brioche from the middle, out- on each end.
Fold and tuck.
I would encourage you to braid this bread in what ever way feels comfortable and correct to you.
And then I wonder if one of you could come over and teach me how to french braid hair… that’s a life skill that passed me by.
The braided loaf if left to rest and rise for half an hour while the oven preheats. The loaf is brushed with egg wash and baked up to golden brown.
I left the baked loaf to rest, uncovered, overnight to dry out juuust a bit. I find that a dry bread makes for a good french toast, soaking up all of the custard.
For the French Toast we’ll need: eggs, whole milk, cream, butter and cinnamon+ sugar.
Eggs are whisked well with whole milk and heavy cream.
Cinnamon and granulated sugar is mixed together before adding it to our eggy custard.
And the whole mixture is whisked together with vanilla extract.
I like thick slices of brioche with a good soak in custard. About 15 seconds per side, maybe a few seconds longer.
Cooked to golden brown and topped with pure maple syrup.
Well earned, well deserved. Ask someone else to pour the mimosas. You’re a damn goddess.
- 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the bowl
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried lavender
- 1 tablespoon (1 package plus 1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature (2 for the bread, 1 to brush the top)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- canola oil for the work surface
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons lightly packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- canola oil for cooking the french toast
- In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the milk, honey, and lavender and stir until the honey is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to just above room temperature, about 110 degrees F.
- Transfer the milk mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and sprinkle the yeast over the mixture. Add 2 of the eggs, 3 1/2 cups of flour and the salt. Beat on medium speed until it forms a soft and smooth dough, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining flour if you find the dough is too sticky.
- Lightly grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Transfer dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide dough into three equal pieces. Gently roll and stretch each piece into a 15-inch rope. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Continue rolling each rope until it is about 18-inches long.
- Lay the three ropes parallel to one another and pinch the three ropes together at the top. Lightly and gently life each rope to braid the loaf. Repeat until the braid is complete and pinch the ends of the rope together.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease. Carefully lift the braid and place on the prepared pan.
- Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow to rise again for 1 hour.
- Towards the end of the rising time, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Lightly brush loaf with beaten egg.
- Place the loaf and baking sheet on another baking sheet to insulate the bottom of the loaf and keep it from browning too quickly.
- Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and lightly cover with foil. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes until a deep golden brown and the loaf sounds a bit hallow when it tapped.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, overnight is best- before slicing for french toast.
- To make the french toast, In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, warm the heavy cream for about 3 minutes, until just steaming and remove from the heat.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the sugar mixture to the cream and stir just until sugar is dissolved. Add the cream mixture to the egg and milk mixture. Stir in the vanilla.
- Working with one thick slice of bread at a time, put a slice into the egg mixture and let it soak for about 15 seconds on each side. Place on a rimmed baking sheet to rest while all the bread is dipped and the pan is heated.
- In a medium nonstick skillet or griddle pan set over medium heat, brush with oil. Place 2 or 3 bread slices into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown on each side. Add a bit more oil to the pan after you flip the bread, if needed. Transfer to a heatproof plate or baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the toast. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining bread.
- Serve warm with pure maple syrup and enjoy!