Olive Oil Brioche with Candied Fruit
This is the week that I made the connection between brioche and panettone. It's so obvious now! Both brioche and panettone are made from rich doughs with high amounts of fat from butter and eggs, although in today's recipe we substituted extra virgin olive oil with a surprisingly good result! Both breads have a mild sweetness and are highly aromatic from vanilla and typically some inclusion of orange; there is an orange water tradition in France and a candied citrus tradition from Milano. Finally, both breads have a soft airy texture and soft satisfying chew.
An "olive oil brioche" was Donald's idea for Christmas morning, however, once he described what he in mind I recalled Ms. Fabienne Roux, founder of Haute Ecole Française de Dégustation d'huile d'holive and olive oil judge in France, Dubai, and New York. It was Fabienne who shared three special olive oils she hand carried from Aix-en-Provence for an international olive oil conference in New York Spring 2014, remarking that the ripe and buttery examples we were tasting with her that afternoon were particularly good oils to use for brioche. I had quite forgotten this discussion until last night, however, now I understand what she meant! A ripe Ascolano or Mission olive oil would meet Fabienne's criteria.
Donald mentioned that he'd heard that Tartine had an olive oil brioche, so I called upon our baker-friend, Dan Flynn, once again and asked him about it. He had, in fact, made the Tartine Olive Oil Brioche and shared the recipe--somewhat daunting for me to read (as I'm not a professional baker). It was developed to bake quite a large amount with a yield of 4 to 6 loaves. I was enthused to see that the recipe's introduction stated, "The assertiveness of the oil depends on the variety you choose. For the version we make at Tartine, we like to taste the olive oil in the finished bread, so we use a strong-flavored extra-virgin oil." We used Picual (our medium intensity oil) for the cake you see photographed, and next week will be making another brioche to share with you using Olio Novello.
Between's Fabienne's reference to very ripe oils, and Tartine's reference to very strong oils (such as our robust Olio Novello) it seems the most any extra olive oil will work. I think that a lemon agrumato would be very interesting to try one day, too.
In the end it was Donald's own experience as a professional baker in his own right along with some inspiration from King Arthur Flour's traditional (i.e. butter) brioche recipe that formulated this recipe. We love it and hope you enjoy reading about it or perhaps even making it this winter. We'll continue to refine our thoughts about ingredients and technique and will be publishing additional notes in future.
With the inclusion of fruit the result is a bread very much more reminiscent of panettone than brioche. For now, this is our Olive Oil Christmas Brioche contribution to your weekend.