Sunday morning breakfasts deserve something special, don’t you agree?. No, I am not talking about extra work for the cook. I like to keep it simple, anything elaborate on a Sunday should be brunch, at least in my book !! Here is such a breakfast treat that we love – Berne Brot. Make it the previous night and serve in the morning with just a touch of butter and drizzle of raw honey. Heavenly Simplicity!
They say it comes from the the city of Bern, Switzerland. Wherever it came from , this is a fine bread with soft and close crumb. Well, I am going to let you in on a secret – it is the perfect bread for picnics and road trips with kids. It is enriched with eggs and diary and stays soft for a couple days, but it is not as fragile as brioche. These freeze well too.
I was looking for recipes similar to challah that use diary when I came across this recipe for Berne Brot. This recipe asks for multiple stretch and folds, but I do not normally do it as the bread rises beautifully and evenly with standard bulk and proof.
For this bread I use bread flour when possible. But any good all purpose flour with good protein content (around 12% or anything says good for bread) will produce excellent results. Even with lower protein content the bread will be delicious , if not as airy as its bread flour counterpart.
For this recipe I use 4gms yeast (about 1/2 packet) for 500 gms of flour (about 4 Cups). Of course you can use a full sachet and cut down on time, but I find that the slower rising gives better flavor. Take the flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl or in your stand mixer’s bowl, and mix well. Add the proofed yeast one egg and an egg yolk to it and knead while adding the milk slowly. Reserve the remaining egg white. Once all the flour comes together in the dough add the softened butter and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and a little tacky, but it should not stick to your hands if you pinch a piece and roll into a ball. If needed add extra flour or milk as required. Form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place till doubled, about 2 hours. You could of course do an overnight rise in the fridge as well for an even more complex flavor.
Punch down the dough and form into loaves. I usually make this bread into 2 winston knots , but shape it the way you like . Winston knot looks a little complicated, but the process of rolling and forming the ropes seems to arrange the gluten strands very neatly, resulting in beautiful crumb. Cover and let rise till looks almost doubled. The video shows how to shape a Winston Knot.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Remember the egg white that we reserved ? Beat it well with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the tops of the loaves. Do not discard the remaining egg wash. Place the loaves in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
If you are making plain loves skip this step. If making braided loaves your bread will look similar to this. See the white portions on the top – results of beautiful oven rise, but that also causes uneven browning. Brush the remaining egg wash on top and return to the oven.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C) and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes. The bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 200°F. If you do not have an instant read thermometer check the old fashioned way . Remove the bread from the oven and tap the bottom. When done the bread will sound hollow.
Cool to room temperature before slicing !