I cherish the years I spent working in a busy French bakery in Toronto where I spent my (very) early mornings engulfed in the aromas of fresh-baked pastries and bread. One of my favourite baked goods was brioche (more specifically, brioche mousseline) that the head baker made daily. The dough would be placed in a specialized, cylinder-shaped, ribbed pan, then the top would close and lock, and set to bake. Once the loaf was done, the baker would release the pan and you would be left with a perfectly cylindrical loaf of brioche, ready for for croque monsieurs, madames, or simply a generous wedge of cold butter.
While most of us don't own a specialized brioche mousseline pan, we shouldn't be deprived of this incredible French treat. So I say make the bread in something we all do own – a can! It doesn't matter if it's a coffee can or vegetable can, all you need for this fun recipe is a tall can that holds about 800 mL. From that point on, arm yourself with your favourite bread recipe and you're all set. Chatelaine's classic sandwich bread is a great recipe, and will work well here. I have adapted it slightly (below), replacing some of the liquid with eggs and adding some extra sweetness to give it a brioche twist (I'm a sucker for nostalgia).
How to make brioche in a can
Prep 30 min
Rising 2 hours
Baking 1 hour
8 g pkg active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm milk
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 egg yolk for wash
STIR yeast with sugar and warm milk in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Set aside for 10 min or until slightly frothy. Combine flour with salt in a medium bowl.
MIX yeast mixture with paddle attachment at low speed for 1 min. Gradually add flour mixture while stirring, until combined, about 2 min. Replace paddle with dough hook. Add eggs, yolks and butter and continue mixing for 1 min. Increase speed to medium and knead 4 more min (stand mixer may move around the counter). Remove hook. Cover mixing bowl with a damp kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
EMPTY the contents of a coffee or vegetable can (approx. 5 to 6 inches height and 3 to 4 inches diameter, able to hold about 800 mL). Clean the can, then oil the inside walls and bottom well. Line the inside of the can (not the bottom) with parchment so that the parchment extends at least 3 inches above the rim of the can.
REMOVE towel from dough and lightly sprinkle top of dough with flour. Transfer dough to a floured counter. Punch and knead dough for 1 min. Shape dough into a short, wide log and slip into lined can. Gently press down so the dough fits into the base of the can. Cover parchment sleeve lightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until it has approximately doubled in size, about 1 hour. If the dough doesn’t double fully, don’t worry. As long as it has risen to at least the upper rim of the can, the oven will do the rest. You can tell your dough is fully proofed when it will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
POSITION rack in lower third of oven and remove any upper racks. Preheat to 375F. Whisk egg with a touch of warm water in a small bowl and brush over the top of the bread. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
BAKE in lower third of oven until bread has sprung up to the top of the parchment and the crust is firm and a deep golden brown, about 40 min. Voila!