Monday, September 14, 2009

Cougnou (Bread of Jesus) - Brussels, Belgium - Blue Monday

This beautiful neo-gothic building stands in the Grand' Place opposite the town hall in Brussels, Belgium. It's called the "Maison du Roi" by the French and the "Broodhuis" by the Dutch. Today the building is home to the historical City Museum. In the 13th century the building that stood here was used to sell bread and the building was called the "Bread House." Over time the building was used by the royals and became known as the "King's House." Both names are still used to identify the building. Quite a bakery, don't you think?

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Belgium is renowned for its bakeries and among their specialties is the cougnou, a rich brioche-type bread shaped to resemble a swaddled infant. It is locally known as the Bread of Jesus and it's especially popular in the winter months and during the Christmas season. I stumbled onto a very old recipe for it while doing research for another bread I wanted to make. I've made a few changes to the recipe because the original instructions were difficult to follow and some of the ingredients were hard to find. The basic recipe, however, remains the same. This is a delicious loaf of bread.

Cougnou...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

8 cups all-purpose flour + flour for kneading
5 teaspoons active dry yeast
8 ounces (2 sticks) softened butter
1-1/4 cups warm milk
2 teaspoons salt
6 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup + 2 tablespoons coarse sugar crystals (the original recipe called for 2 cups)
3 egg yolks
3 teaspoons milk

1) Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in flour. Pour warm milk into well. Add yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes. Mix. Add eggs, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Beat the mixture with a spoon (you can use your electric mixer if you wish). Gradually add butter. Turn dough onto a floured board and knead until dough no longer sticks to work surface. Place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Allow to rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Turn onto work surface. Knead in raisins and 1 cup coarse sugar crystals. Divide dough into six balls. Lightly grease or spray 2 cookie sheets. Connect three balls, representing head, body and legs, on each sheet. Allow to rise until doubled in size.
2) Preheat oven to 430 degrees F. Combine egg yolks with 3 teaspoons milk. Brush loaves with mixture. Sprinkle with reserved 2 tablespoons sugar crystals. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Yield: 2 loaves.

Cook's Note: If you are unable to find sugar crystals, coarsely chop sugar cubes to desired size.

This post is being linked to :

Smiling Sally - Blue Monday

Wild Yeast - Yeast Spotting


Selba said...

A nice loaf of bread :)

My mom is baking bread too right now, just ready to put in the oven.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Whether it is scenery or food, you always have the loveliest photos!

KathyB. said...

Bread of Jesus, what an interesting name and history. Because we celebrate communion in our fellowship with a full meal and serve freshly baked bread and wine, this post intrigued me. I will be making this bread....I love to bake bread, especially this time of year!

Very interesting post Mary, thank-you!

Hootin' Anni said...

Looks out of this world delicious [I love breads]...but, butter? I'm sure I'd need to use the real thing to make it taste right, huh? Wow...I'm drooling.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a gorgeous building and a wonderful loaf of bread. Belgium must be beautiful.

Becky K. said...

Very nice post.
I love to make bread.
Thanks for the recipe!

Have a great day!
Becky K.
Hospitality Lane

My Little Space said...

Em..this recipe using lots of egg and butter. Sounds like brioche!

LV said...

An interesting picture and story of Belgium. I love bread and could eat every day. Nothing better than a piece just out of the oven. This sure looks good.

SnoWhite said...

that bread looks quite delicious.

Regina said...

Beautiful post!

bj said...

Good morning, Mary,
This is a LOVELY building. Don't you know it must have been quite a job to construct.!
This sounds like a delicious bread. I do believe I could live on bread alone!!;O) Thankd for the recipe.

Cathy said...

The buildings around the old square in Brussels are magnificent. What a lovely photo, Mary.

My bread baking confidence is up a little bit so I'll give this lovely braid a try. I can almost smell it baking.

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

What a beautiful building for a bakery! Mmm, I love fresh bread right out of the oven! Happy Blue Monday.


SmilingSally said...

I love seeing buildings like this one, and the history behind it is so interesting. Happy Blue Monday.

Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) said...

What a beautiful place.. Yummy.. bread my "all" time favorite thing to eat..hugs ~lynne~

Rechelle ~Walnuthaven Cottage~ said...

What wonderful the details and that loaf of bread is only making my stomach growl even more...yummy!

ellen b said...

With a building like that devoted to a bakery you know this country knows their bread! :0)
How interesting that this is called "bread of Jesus" A swaddled infant. I like it...

Maria said...

Very nice loaf!

My name is Riet said...

I love to visit your blog as you always have these great recipies. The Belgian broodhouse looks great , nice picture. Have a nice day

Diers Eve said...

That looks delicious!

I'd love to go to Brussels.

Thanks for sharing.

Happy Blue Monday,

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

will have to try this recipe it sounds so good and so easy.
Thanks for sharing

xinex said...

Beautiful building and beautiful and delicious looking bread!..Christine

Boo-Bah AKA Iris said...

I love the smell of bread baking in the oven.
The recipe and picture looked and sounded delicious.

Have a wonderful week.


Shy said...

What a fine day, it shows in the sky. thanks for sharing some info and recipe.

Darlene said...

What a beautiful building and that bread looks delicious! Hope you are having a happy Blue Monday.

jeanne said...

OMG Mary, that bread has to be out of this world. The ingredients are very rich. Boy would I love this bread. Your history on Belgium's bakeries is very interesting to read. One day I would love to visit there. I grew up eating homemade bread. My mom made the best bread ever. I think I was the only kid in school that had a sandwich on homemade bread. Mmmmmm, I love that memory. When my mom was a young girl, she made the bread for her family for 3 cents a loaf. She had nine brothers and sisters and hired hands on a dairy farm to feed. My grandfather was a wealthy man but he never acted like it. She loved earning that money and willingly made the bread every day. Now you know why her bread was so good. She was an expert at making bread. BIG smile.

Thanks for bringing back a great memory.


aspiritofsimplicity said...

Wow that is quite a building for baking bread in! I have been doing some bread making myself here in Hip ville.

theUngourmet said...

What a fabulous building and a fabulous loaf as well. Interesting name!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Coming from a girl who grew up in a bakery...both my dad and grandfather owned bakeries...that bread is beautiful! Lovely story about the bread and what an amazing architectural masterpiece that building is.

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Sounds like a great place to visit. And the bread is really nice.

Pam said...

What a fantastic building! The bread looks perfectly cooked and very tasty.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mary,

It is always lovely to hear from you.

This is a most interesting post - thank you for sharing.

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm envisioning dancing along Belgium with some of this bread...

Light and Voices said...

Thank you for your nice comments left on Light and Voices. I hope you don't mind, if I try out your recipe for Chipotle-Marinated Pork Tenderloin. It sounds devine.
Joyce M

FoodFunFarmLife said...

Mary, thanks so much for the comments you leave on my blog. Your food - and your photo's - are so beautiful & professional, I feel quite embarrassed when I think of the very basic/simple cooking which I do - yet you are always so complimentary of it ... thank you !

I know I've said it before, but your Grandson's are just adorable .... the photo of little Joshua in his hat .... too precious for words !

Hope you're having a wonderful day in your corner of the world :)

Debbie said...

What a lovely bread and pictures!

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Your recipes are fabulous~ How do you stay so thin with all that yummy food! Cindy

Shelia said...

Hi Mary! Oh, what a lovely photo and the bread looks so delish! Thanks for popping in to see me.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Paula Grace Designs said...

This bread sounds delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

Baba said...

Hi Mary, this is my first visit to your place , but not my last!! Thanks for sharing this story with us and the perfect bread..

I am going to try cooking your baby back ribs recipe... it sounds wonderful...

Thanks for your visit to my place today. Hugs, Baba

Katy ~ said...

A beautiful loaf! I love the name of the bread. I've been in a bread making mood since the cooler weather is approaching; I'll surely save this. I love the idea of it being served at Christmas time.

AnnA said...

Wonderful photo of the building from Brussels, Mary!
Have a nice day!/

Hannah said...

Gosh... Grand buildings like this always awe me. I'd be a picture-taking fool had I been there. :D

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Wow, quite a bakery indeed! I always enjoy learning about holiday breads from around the world -- very nice one here!

NKP said...

What gorgeous photos, you are one well-traveled woman!
Lovely bread, looks so sweet and buttery.

Karen said...

I'm wondering if this is the bread that I have been searching for a recipe for a long time! It certainly looks similar. The bread I enjoyed was known as 'koekebrood'
Almost yellow in colour and with a dark soft crust, slightly sweet - my Belgian friends enjoyed it with chocolate!
I will try your recipe and let you know!

Anonymous said...

The cougnou is also known in Liege as "petit bonhomme" is just like those I use to eat when I was a little girl, except for the sugar,
they use belgian pearl sugar.
I still make them to my kids on St nicolas'day.
It was a chalenge to find a real belgian pearl sugar...but I found a online store that sell it at they imported directly from Belgium.
So try it with the pearl sugar it will taste even better.
This is the link:

Joelle said...

The cougnou is also known in Liege as "petit bonhomme" is just like those I use to eat when I was a little girl, except for the sugar,
they use belgian pearl sugar.
I still make them to my kids on St nicolas'day.
It was a chalenge to find a real belgian pearl sugar...but I found a online store that sell it at they imported directly from Belgium.
So try it with the pearl sugar it will taste even better.
This is the link:

Suzie Day said...

I am trying to source an old recipe for cougnou, preferably pre-1600. If anyone can source this for me, it would be amazing. Cougnou is an amazing bread- I used to live in Belgium. Now I want to submit it for a medieval cookery competition, but while I know it has been around since 5th century, I can't seem to find a recipe!


RSA Perth said...

Thanks a lot for such a nice posting about Cougnou. From now onwards i am going to prepare it in my house to eat.

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