I made stuffed and not stuffed cinnamon brioche French toast for breakfast the other day. I know!
Remember the last picture on this page? I’m giving you the how-to in this post, along with the instructions to make cinnamon swirl brioche out of the regular brioche dough from the same page.
(I’m making pull-apart cinnamon brioche as I type this, I’ll post about it in the coming days if it works out. ETA: it worked!)
Getting right to it, because what follows is lengthy enough to read as it is.
Cinnamon Swirl Brioche:
For the cinnamon filling:
1 tablespoon (8 g) arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) hot water, more if needed
1/4 cup (55 g) packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon (8 g) ground cinnamon
One recipe brioche dough, starting right after the 18 hours in the fridge
Flour, to roll out
To make the cinnamon filling: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Note that if the filling is too thick to be spread, you can add just a few drops extra hot water to it. Don’t add too much though: it should be thick, not pourable, but spreadable. Let cool before using, so that it doesn’t soften the refrigerated brioche dough too much when you apply the filling on top.
Punch down the refrigerated dough. Generously sprinkle the counter with flour. Roll out the dough into an approximately 7 x 14-inch rectangle. Carefully spread the filling all over into a thin layer, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) around the edges. Tightly roll the dough starting at the short side, and transfer it carefully, seam side down, into a greased 7.75 inch x 3.75 inch x 2.75 inch pan.
Loosely cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled and that it reaches the top of the pan.
Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the dough, as it might stick a little.
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6). Line the oven rack with a piece of foil, just in case the cinnamon filling were to escape.
Bake the brioche for 10 minutes and lower the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4), baking the brioche for another 25 minutes, until it reaches a deep golden brown color on top.
If it darkens before then, loosely cover with foil. If using a dark pan, check for doneness after a total of 25 to 30 minutes of baking. The best and most surefire way to tell if your brioche is ready is to put your oven mitts on, and carefully remove it from the pan to see if the bottom and sides of the loaf are a rich golden brown too.
Carefully remove from the pan, transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing. Due to the use of flour when rolling out the dough, the top of the brioche might not be as buttery-looking as it is when making the basic version, so if you want, brush a little nondairy butter on top of the brioche right when you take it out of the pan to cool.
Yield: One brioche loaf
• I find that the rise in the slightly smaller than standard pan is far better for brioche. Good news is, the smaller pan isn’t outrageously costly either.
• Remember to prepare the dough 18 hours ahead of time so that it’s ready to go when you want to make the brioche.
Stuffed or Not Stuffed French Toast:
Four 1.5-inch (4-cm) thick slices of slightly stale regular or cinnamon brioche, or vegan challah bread (see notes below)
1/2 cup (70 g) fresh raspberries (optional if not stuffing)
1 cup (235 ml) full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream, divided
1 tablespoon (8 g) arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon (15 g) maca powder, optional
2 tablespoons (25 g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch fine sea salt
Non-stick cooking spray
Maple syrup, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup, to serve
Using a paring knife, cut a deep slit across the top in the middle of each slice. This will create your pocket. Stuff with about 2 tablespoons (31 g) of fruit, if using. Close the opening by gently pressing the bread together. Set the filled slices aside. Or just use thinner slices to make non-stuffed French toast.
Combine 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the milk or cream with the arrowroot in a medium, shallow dish to dissolve the powder. Add the rest of the milk or cream, optional maca powder, sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until smooth.
Place the pockets (or non-stuffed slices) one at a time into the mixture and soak for a few seconds on each and every side. Let the extra batter drip back down into the dish.
Heat a panini press fitted with smooth plates to high, or use a large skillet. Lightly coat both sides of the pockets with spray.
Cook the pockets on medium-low heat until golden brown, about 4 minutes in all if using a closed panini press, or 4 minutes on each side in a skillet.
Drizzle a little of your favorite liquid sweetener on top. Serve warm.
Yield: 4 stuffed pockets or about 8 single slices, depending on size
• If stuffing the bread sounds like too much work for you (like it did for me as the pictures above show), simply cut your slices more thinly (1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness would be good), dip them in the batter and cook in the skillet or on the panini press (without closing).
• If you decide to stuff your French toast, any berry will work well, be it blueberries, strawberries, or even blackberries. Just be sure to chop larger berries (like strawberries) so that they fit nicely in the pocket.
• Come to think of it, using unsweetened jarred (and well-drained) pears or peaches, chopped a little, sounds pretty awesome too. Especially when using the cinnamon brioche.
• If you won’t be using brioche or any other buttery-type vegan bread to make this, you could make a compound of nondairy butter with the fruit: just mash 2 tablespoons (28 g) softened nondairy butter with the fruit until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.