While the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has devastated many food businesses, it has inspired some creative bakers to make some incredible brioches.
A free class was opened in mid-February at Hà Nội-based Meizan Baking and Cooking Demo Centre to teach students how to make brioches from dragon fruits, under the guidance of chef Đỗ Bá Thiện. Photo courtesy of the centre
Many of you, like me, are probably fans of traditional brioche, the traditional French soft bread, whose high egg and butter content gives it a rich and tender texture.
While French brand Harry’s Brioche Tressée is known worldwide, Vietnamese bakers learnt and even improved this technique of making brioche to create delicious examples. They are named in Vietnamese bánh mỳ hoa cúc (daisy-shaped brioche). After being baked, the cake blooms with golden fibres like daisy flowers.
Homemade bánh mỳ hoa cúc (daisy-shaped brioche), inspired from France’s Harry’s brioche tressée. VNS Photo Bạch Liên
For a long time, bánh mỳ hoa cúc has been the 'queen' of brioche in Việt Nam. But recently, some other brioches made from fruit have won favour. Creative bakers have figured out how to take advantage of the diversity of fruits in the country, partly thanks to the coronavirus outbreak.
As metric tonnes of Việt Nam’s dragon fruit and watermelon have been barred from being exported to China due to the epidemic, local bakers have debuted new types of brioches that use fruit as one of the main ingredients, to roaring success.
Dragon fruit brioches. VNS Photo Bạch Liên
To support farmers, Kao Siêu Lực, founder of ABC Bakery in HCM City, added pink dragon fruit to his brioches to enhance flavour while also helping buy the unsold fruit. The idea came to him during a recent trip to the Mekong Delta region, where he saw many ripe fruits left unharvested on dragon fruit farms.
Dragon fruit brioches on the making process. Photo Courtesy of the centre
“After a lot of trial and error, I found the perfect recipe for delicious loaves of dragon fruit bread by replacing 60 per cent of the water used in making the dough with a dragon fruit smoothie,” Lực said.
The unique dragon fruit bread quickly became hugely popular in Việt Nam, with crowds lining up outside ABC Bakery hoping to buy products before they sold out. Customers have described the bread as having a crunchy crust and a slightly sour taste with a beautiful colour, which makes it stand out from normal bread.
Since then, other bakers have tried to make this special bread at home. In mid February, a free class was opened at Meizan Baking and Cooking Demo centre to teach students how to make brioche from dragon fruit, under the guidance of chef Đỗ Bá Thiện.
“We wanted to teach students the technique of using seasonal fruits in combination with Meizan flour to create a new kind of brioche. The class was a success, all were excited to see the brioche with purple colour being created thanks to the flour mixed with the juice of dragon fruit, and find its special fragrance,” said Nguyễn Thanh Diệp, one of the class managers.
Despite being less popular than dragon fruit brioche, lekima brioche made from lekima (egg fruit) is highly appreciated by customers. Trần Thanh Tú is among a few bakers from Hà Nội who have made this kind of brioche. Years ago, the young woman quit her job in a foreign-owned company to open Hana Bakery - an online cake shop and spent time testing several new kinds of cakes and breads with totally organic ingredients.
Brioche made with lekima fruit has become one of Hana Bakery’s most wanted bread. Photo courtesy of Trần Thanh Tú
“I saw egg fruit has been almost absent in markets as not many people enjoy eating it.
"Meanwhile, Chinese merchants, who understand the nutritious value of the fruit, try hard to look for them and buy them for a very cheap price, and then make dried fruit for export,” Tú said.
Since January, due to the coronavirus epidemic, along with other fruits, lekima fruits are barred from being exported to China, so Tú can buy lot of them.
“This brioche is highly appreciated for the sweet flavour of the fruit mixed with flour. After lot of research, I am happy to finally find a new brioche recipe,” she said. VNS