Brioche is best served on the day of making or stored in an airtight container and warmed or toasted before eating.
300 grams plain flour
¼ teaspoon fine salt
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon dried yeast or 10g fresh yeast
2 tablespoons tepid water
4 eggs, beaten
150 grams butter, cubed, at room temperature
60 grams chopped dried apricots or other dried fruit
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon demerara sugar
2 tablespoons apricot, quince or other fruit paste, plus extra to serve
Lightly grease a 20 cm fluted brioche tin or a baking tray.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Put the water in a small bowl, sprinkle in the sugar and yeast and leave for 10 minutes to foam. Add to the flour along with the eggs and, using a wooden spoon, mix to form a dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface or place in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook, and knead for 6-8 minutes. Slowly add the butter, kneading well after the addition of each cube, until it is all incorporated. The dough will become very soft and sticky but keep it moving, adding a little flour if necessary. When all the butter is incorporated wrap the dough loosely in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Combine the dried fruit, cinnamon and demerara sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Knock the dough back and knead for a further 8-10 minutes or until it returns to room temperature and is soft.
Pat the dough out into a flat disc and sprinkle over the dried apricot mixture. Roll the dough into a pinwheel then fold in the ends, shaping the dough into a round ball with all the apricot enclosed inside. Place seam side down in the prepared tin. Cover and leave to prove in a warm place for 1-1½ hours, until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC – no fan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden on top and hollow sounding when tapped. If the top starts to get a little dark then cover loosely with foil. Remove from the oven and while still warm brush with melted fruit paste. Serve warm. Makes 1 x 20cm fluted brioche.