L.A.'s Bakery Queen Zoe Nathan Shares Her Recipe for Happiness with the Huckleberry Cookbook

L.A.'s Bakery Queen Zoe Nathan Shares Her Recipe for Happiness with the Huckleberry Cookbook

Opening an artisan bakery in bread-phobic and sugar-free Los Angeles seemed like a crazy idea when Zoe Nathan talked her chef husband, Josh Loeb, into the idea in 2009. But ever since, she has attracted lines of flavor-seekers with her Huckleberry bakery and café display case, stacked with tasty rustic muffins, crostatas, scones, and cookies.

Celebrities and foodie Westsiders flock to Huckleberry for the cooked breakfasts too (braised brisket and fingerling potato hash for me, please), and satisfyingly fresh lunches that feature organic roast chicken and farmers market salads. In fact, the healthy dishes are prominently displayed right up front, which is all part of Zoe’s delicious yet devious plan. “We want you to come in with the best of intentions and then decide to be naughty and get something sweet. Then we make sure it’s so good you leave feeling that it was well worth it. This is healthy; sitting down for a few moments and slowly eating a homemade muffin with a beautiful latte is good for you. Yoga is not the only place you should slow down and breathe.”

Zoe Nathan, Huckleberry Photo Courtesy of Huckleberry

Zoe, however, hasn’t slowed down for one moment. She had always wanted to write a cookbook but the Huckleberry kitchen kept her so busy that it wasn’t until the birth of her son that she rediscovered her love for cooking at home. Now, with the publication of her first cookbook, Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from Our Kitchen (Chronicle Books), she is finally sharing her recipes.

Thanks to Zoe and Chronicle Books, JustLuxe has permission to share her luscious Fresh Blueberry Brioche recipe with the world. One of Zoe’s happiest moments while writing this book was “taking this bread out of the oven and sitting around our dining room table with a few friends ripping it apart while it was piping hot. By the time I thought of getting a knife, it was all gone. That’s love.”

Fresh Blueberry Brioche recipePhoto Credit: Matt Armendariz
Fresh Blueberry Brioche

Yields: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup, plus 2 teaspoons bread flour
  • 6 1/2 teaspoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 batch egg wash

Egg Wash:  

Yields: About 1/4 cup

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Combine the egg yolks, heavy cream, and salt and whisk until homogeneous. Refrigerate until needed. This keeps, refrigerated, for up to 2 days.

Zoe Nathan, Huckleberry Photo Courtesy of Huckleberry

Directions:

Day One

Place the fresh blueberries on a plate and freeze in a single layer. Do not use frozen blueberries, as they are too watery. Slightly warm the milk and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the yeast and whisk by hand to combine. Add the all-purpose flour, bread flour, 2 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar, the salt, eggs, and egg yolk to the bowl. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, 1-2 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and work the dough for six minutes. Pause every minute to push the dough back down into the bowl and off the hook until it pulls off the sides and looks like a strong bread dough.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the butter, a little at a time, over the course of two minutes. After one minute, pause to scrape down the bowl and hook. When the butter begins to blend in, increase the mixer speed to medium-high to fully incorporate the butter and bring the dough back together, 5-6 minutes longer. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press into a 16- x 10-inch rectangle. It does not need to be exact. Position the dough vertically, with the short side nearest you; distribute the blueberries and two tablespoons of the sugar along the top edge and gently roll down, toward you, into a log. Place the log on a greased sheet pan, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight.

Day Two

Grease a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan. Reshape the dough one last time by pressing it into an approximate 12- x 6-inch rectangle and cover with the remaining two tablespoons of sugar. With the dough positioned vertically, roll down toward you, tightly this time. Place into the greased loaf pan, loosely wrap in plastic, and allow to rise in a warm place until more than doubled in size, about three hours. As the brioche nears readiness, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Carefully brush the dough with the egg wash, making sure the egg doesn’t pool around the edges. Liberally sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden, 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack.

This keeps, wrapped well, at room temperature, for up to three days, but who are we kidding? It will be lucky to survive three minutes out of the oven.

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