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