I happened to come across this recipe yesterday, and being the curious challenge-loving baker that I am, decided to go for it and give it a try. In other words, please excuse me while I set myself up for failure. Or so I thought. I have always been terrified of any type of dough/breads but now with the new mixer I feel as if I am obligated to at least try (the mixer does a hell of a kneading job). The fact that I could produce brioche french toast or a decadent bread pudding afterwards had me sold. So attempt I did, and in return I now have a gently sweetened brioche-type bread, full of rum, and in a charming flower shape. It's pretty yummy alone- chewy like a perfect brioche, somewhat dense, and with an aroma of rum and hint of orange blossom, but I'm more than set on using it slightly stale, in an extra-rich bread pudding.
FOUACE NANTAISE --- recipe via Life's a Feast (which has step by step pictures if it helps:) )
1 lb (500 g) flour, divided, plus more for kneading
2 ¼ tsp (15 g) active dry yeast
½ cup (115 ml) milk, warmed to body temperature
large pinch of salt
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
7 Tbs (100 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 small juice or wine glass of rum, about 3 oz (90 ml)
1 Tbs fleur d’oranger (orange flower water)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 additional egg for egg wash, lightly beaten
Place 1 cup (125 g) of the flour in a medium-sized mixing bowl with the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Add the warm milk and stir briefly just to wet all of the dry ingredients. Allow to proof for 20 – 40 minutes or until doubled in size, puffy and bubbly.
While the yeast mixture is proofing, place the rest of the flour into a large mixing bowl with a large pinch of salt (about ½ teaspoon), the remaining sugar, the softened butter, the glass of rum, the fleur d’oranger and the 4 lightly beaten eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon until all of the dry ingredients have been moistened and the mixture is well blended. Add the proofed yeast mixture and stir the together until well blended. It will be very sticky, too sticky to handle.
Scrape the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Knead the dough, adding enough extra flour until the dough is no longer sticky and it is soft, smooth and homogenous. Carefully divide the dough into 5 or 6 equal parts, form into balls and place one in the center of a parchment-lined baking/cookie tray. Place the other balls of dough around the outside of the center ball to form a star shape. Don’t worry if there are gaps between the balls of dough. Cover lightly with a piece of plastic wrap then a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Brush the dough with the beaten egg and bake for 40 minutes. The fouace will have risen and be a deep golden brown. The “branches” of the star will have started to pull away from the center ball of brioche.