200 ml warm water or enough to have soft, sticky dough
For the mock “egg wash” mix together:
1 tbsp cashew milk (or other fatty plant milk)
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp raw or brown sugar
More sugar to dust
Sliced pistachios or hazelnuts
To make the apple caramel, you can use a store-bought apple compote or your favorite jam.
4-5 old/windfall apples (the dryer the better)
5-7 tbsp raw or brown sugar
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp arrowroots (or other starch to thicken up the sauce)
Pinch of salt
1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, dissolve the sugar into the coconut oil over a medium flame. Leave it to caramelize for a few seconds.
2. Wash and core the apples. Dice roughly in a powerful food processor with the sugar and all the ingredients, make into a puree.
3. Transfer the puree into a wide saucepan, bring to boil and cook on a low flame until it reduces into a compote, about 15-20 min. The amount of arrowroot you will need depends on how much water the apples have, so this sauce works best with old or windfall apples.
4. You can store the compote in the fridge for 4 days.
5. You can use any kind of apple for this compote, but personally I prefer sweet apples for this recipe. I used a mixture of Pink Lady and other windfall that I had left.
1. Mix well all the dry ingredients. Add little by little the warm water until you have a very soft and smooth (and a bit sticky) dough.
2. When the dough is ready, remove it from the bowl onto a large piece of parchment paper.
3. Dust the dough and a rolling pin with a little flour and roll the dough out directly on the baking paper. Shape into a rectangle less than ½-inch thick.
4. Cut the rectangle into 3 long strings. Spread on each a thin layer of compote, leaving a bit of empty space on the 2 long sides. Close each piece lengthwise to form 3 long cords filled with the compote.
5. With a sharp knife, slightly cut the length of the cord to reveal the filling. Proceed to make a braid or just wrap the 3 cords around each other. Mix together the oil, milk and sugar until the sugar is almost dissolved, then brush the whole brioche. Personally, I also drizzle it a bit with rice syrup, which makes it even more shiny.
6. Leave the braided brioche to rise in the oven with the light on, about 2-3 hours (the time suggested is usually 45 minutes). The secret of this recipe is to make it over-raised so it will start to make nice big bubbles inside. For that reason, the only trick is not to open the oven or give the dough a temperature shock. Last time, I left the the brioche in the fridge overnight and then baked after 15 minutes of proofing with only the light on.
7. The proofing time can dramatically change depending on the weather, so be patient and don’t get frustrated if the brioche seems not to rise so well at first; it will eventually. *As extra help on very cold days, I switch on the empty oven at 120°F. When it reaches the temperature, I switch off it again and place the brioche to raise in the slightly warm oven; this also cuts down the proofing time. But I should say, the slower rising the better and more bubbly the consistency becomes. When the brioche is about double, switch on the oven at 355°F (without opening the oven or taking out your braid) and let the brioche cook for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
** Dust with extra sugar and chopped pistachio.
**If you cook the brioche in a narrow loaf tin, it might take longer to cook to the core as the braid will be probably thicker here. I just left the brioche on the parchment paper.