Italians love to eat sweet things for breakfast. Whenever I am in Italy I try to eat a cornetto (italian style croissant) or a brioche (sweet bread) every morning. The cornetti are quite different from French croissants as they are smaller, taste less buttery, are lighter and they are often filled with apricot jam or italian custard.
I can’t find a real Italian cornetto anywhere in Melbourne. The ones I found in Carlton are rich and buttery like a croissant. However I recently found a terrific brioche in a loaf. Brioche, in case you don’t know, is like bread but sweet and a bit buttery. It is light, delightful toasted and simply delicious with a smear of jam. Brioche reminds me of Italy. I would love to try to make it one day though have not had the time (having recently returned to full time employment). Luckily Matisse Bakery make a beautiful brioche loaf, which is finished with an egg wash so that it has a shiny crust.
Last weekend I felt like something a bit richer than brioche with jam. I had a couple of peaches from mum’s tree left and wanted to combine the fragrant home grown peach with the brioche. So I made “pain perdu” (literally meaning lost bread in French). Wikipedia tells me it is like French Toast and a good way to use up stale (or “lost”) bread. Using the brioche makes it rather special though. I poached a peach in some water, sugar, butter and a bit of brandy and tipped it over the cooked brioche. Perfect! Not quite Italian but a fantastic breakfast anyway.
Pain perdu with peaches*
2 thick slices of brioche
1 large egg, lightly beaten
50 ml milk
30g caster sugar
Splash of brandy (optional)
Butter (for cooking)
1 peach, sliced into 16 segments
1 tablespoon water
25g caster sugar
15g cold butter, cubed
splash of brandy
In a bowl which will fit both slices of brioche, place the egg, milk and caster sugar (and an extra splash of brandy if you like). Combine with a fork, making sure the sugar dissolves. Place the slices of brioche in the liquid and allow to soak for 5 minutes, turning the brioche over half way through.
In the meantime turn the oven on to 150 degrees. Place a medium sized frypan on medium heat with a knob of butter. Lift the slices of brioche out of the eggy mixture (most of which will have absorbed) and place in the foaming butter in the pan, cook for about 2 minutes on each side (be careful not to let them burn). Place the cooked brioche on an oven proof plate and place in the oven loosely covered with foil to keep them warm. Put a few plates in the oven as well so that they will be warm when you are ready to serve.
Wipe the pan with a kitchen towel, place back on the stove and add the water to the pan. Scatter the sugar evenly onto the base of the pan and cook on medium heat until the sugar mixture is pale golden. Stir in the cubes of butter. When they have dissolved, add the sliced peach and the brandy. Turn the heat up to high and cook for a few minutes until the peaches have softened and a lovely thick syrup has formed.
Remove the brioche from the oven, cut the slices in half and arrange the halves on the warmed plates. Spoon over the peaches on each plate and serve immediately.
*recipe adapted from Raymond Blanc