Bread belongs to France. No other place in the world can claim the flaky and chewy perfection of a croissant, a baguette and brioche. Here in Montecito, French baker Pierre-Yves Henry opened his own little piece of France at Bree’osh Cafe and Bakery in Montecito, giving us a slice of that perfection for breakfast and lunch 5 days a week.
Henry and his wife Nelly Mousseau claimed Montecito as their new home after visiting friends here in 2015. They quickly came up with Bree’osh (helping locals with the correct pronunciation of “brioche”) after their favorite pastry dough. Brioche is a yeast-leavened dough with a high ratio of eggs, butter and liquid – making the end results more rich and tender than other baked goods – and is the cornerstone of the bakery and café. You’ll find it in their pastries, loaves, sandwiches and tarts.
For Henry, naturally fermented brioche is the only way to make it. That means sourcing local ingredients, encouraging wild yeasts to interact with the dough, and exercising tons of patience during a long, slow fermentation – about 3 days per batch. The benefits? Tastier, softer, less sugar, more probiotics, less acidity and easier to digest. To make the sourdough starter, he stays as local as possible: Blue Ridge honey from Ojai wildflowers, plum or pear juice from the The Farm Cart in Carpinteria or the Montecito Farmers Market along with organic malted flour from California. Montecito plums make the best starter; they are the plumpest and juiciest Henry’s ever had.
Creating a wild sourdough starter involves feeding, stirring, kneading and waiting, so Henry recommends getting the starter from him if you want to make your own sourdough. Just give him a day or so notice, then pick up the starter on the day you want to make the loaf.
To make 2 loaves, combine 500 grams flour, 300 g eggs (about 6 eggs), 45 g sugar, 10 g salt, 100 g sourdough starter and 20 g yeast. Mix until consistent. You will see strings in the dough and it will come off the edge of the bowl. Beat 250 g softened butter into dough and mix for 4-5 minutes. Wrap the dough and store in refrigerator for 8-10 hours. Then, divide into 2 parts and put into buttered loaf pans. Let them raise for 2 hours in a warm area. Finally, put an egg wash on top and score with a knife, then bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until browned.