Tear-and-share Christmas tree dipping brioche
Christmas is undoubtedly a time for sharing.
And there's few things I like to share more than delicious food.
For the past few years, I've made a brioche centre-piece for the big family meal on Christmas Day.
It's amazing dipped in a baked camembert. So rich, buttery and soft.
But I wanted to make this dish even more festive.
And there are few symbols more festive than the Christmas tree.
You're unlikely to mould the dough into a perfect shape.
But, for me, that's part of the appeal - there's nothing wrong with something looking deliciously homemade.
And you can decorate it using fresh cranberries as baubles and rosemary sprigs as pine needles to make it even more Christmassy.
This isn't a quick recipe to make however. Because it's packed with butter, brioche dough needs an especially long prove.
So, if you're making this for Christmas Day, prepare your dough the day before and prove in the fridge overnight.
Then on the big day you just have to shape your dough, leave it for a second prove, bake and serve.
Of course, you can make this dish all year round. But it's probably best that you don't shape it like a Christmas tree if you're making it at Easter!
How to make it...
175g strong white bread flour
7g sachet of dried yeast
15g caster sugar
The day before serving:
Whisk the eggs and milk together briefly in a jug.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Be careful to keep the salt and yeast separate as the salt can kill off the yeast.
Next, take the butter and using your forefingers and thumbs, rub it into the flour, yeast, sugar and salt until the mix resembles sand or coarse breadcrumbs.
Add the milk and egg mix to the mixing bowl and bring all the ingredients together to form a wet dough. It should look more like a cake mix than a bread at this stage.
Tip the wet dough out on to a floured work surface.
Knead for around 15 minutes using a dough scraper to stop it sticking to the surface and adding more flour if need be. It's not an easy dough to knead and it will be messy, but do persist.
When you've finished kneading, the dough should still be wet but a lot smoother.
Cover the dough with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
On the day:
9. Take the dough from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
10. Finely chop the rosemary, scatter it on the worktop and roll the dough ball over it.
11. Briefly knead the dough again to make it a little more pliable and to incorporate the rosemary evenly.
12. Weigh the dough and divide it into 12 equal sized dough balls.
13. Roll each dough ball until it's circular and smooth.
14. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
15. Arrange the dough balls on the tray in the shape of a Christmas tree and cover with cling film.
16. Allow the dough to prove for another hour at room temperature.
17. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.
18. Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg all over the top of the proven dough.
19. Bake the dough for 15-20 minutes or until risen and a beautiful golden brown.
20. Serve with baked camembert.
A pinch of salt
100g butter, cubed
A sprig of fresh rosemary
1 beaten egg
A camembert wheel (to serve)