Vegan Brioche des Rois

Happy Epiphany!
Brioche des Rois is a sweet, fruity, crown shaped brioche cake from Le Midi (southern France). It’s the Provençal version of the Galette des Rois, or King Cake. These cakes are eaten at Epiphany (6th January), which is the Christian feast of the revelation of Jesus.

Preparation time: 30 minutesRising time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 30 minutesServes: 10
Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 250g/9 oz/2 cups of plain flour, plus extra
  • 7g/¼ oz/just over 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of lukewarm soya milk
  • 6 tablespoons of aquafaba
  • 50g/2 oz/4 tablespoons of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water
  • 80g/3 oz/⅜ cup of plant based margarine

For the ‘egg wash’:

  • 2 tablespoons of soya milk
  • 3 tablespoons of aquafaba

For decoration:

  • 2 tablespoons of apricot jam
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar pearls (see tips)
  • 200g/7 oz/a cup of candied fruit (see tips)

Special Equipment

  • A large mixing bowl
  • A sieve
  • A tea towel
  • A large baking tray
  • Baking paper
  • A pastry brush
  • A saucepan
  • A wooden spoon

Method

  1. Add the yeast and flour to a large mixing bowl and briefly mix them together with a wooden spoon.
  2. Next, add the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, 6 tablespoons of aquafaba, orange blossom water and margarine to the bowl. Use your fingers to knead everything together until well combined into a sticky ball. Then transfer the dough to a floured surfaced and knead for approximately ten minutes, or until the dough is smooth, springy and no longer sticky.
  3. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl with a wet tea towel and leave it in a warm place for an hour, so the dough can rise.
  4. Meanwhile, line a baking tray with a baking sheet.
  5. Uncover the bowl and return the dough to the lightly floured surface. Knead it very briefly before using your fingers to roll it out into a long sausage (about 40cm long). Bring the ends of the sausage together so the dough forms a ring. Set it on down the baking paper and re-cover with the tea towel. Leave it in a warm place for a further hour.
  6. While it’s rising, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  7. Uncover the dough. Briefly mix the remaining aquafaba and milk together to make an ‘egg wash’ and use a pastry brush to dab it over the dough. Pop the dough in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden- if necessary, rotate it in the oven half way through cooking time and dab it with a little more ‘egg wash’ to prevent it from burning. Remove from the oven when ready.
  8. While it’s cooling, pop the apricot jam and a tablespoon of water into a saucepan and warm it over a low heat for a couple of minutes. Briefly stir the jam mixture, then brush it over the brioche using the pastry brush.
  9. Allow the brioche and jam to cool for a few minutes, then decorate with sugar pearls and candied fruit. When ready, cut into slices and serve.
  10. Bon Appetit!

Tips

  • If desired, you can use sugar syrup, corn syrup, marmalade or agave syrup for the glaze instead of apricot jam
  • Pearls of sugar are widely available in France for pastry decoration but aren’t that common in many countries. If you can’t get hold of them, they can be substituted with lightly crushed sugar cubes.
  • Most French recipes call for fresh yeast, which also isn’t always easily accessible. If you’re able to get hold of fresh yeast, use 10g instead of the dry active yeast.
  • If desired, you can make your own candied fruit. Cut your chosen fruit into slices and wash them. Pour a cup of water and a cup of sugar into a very clean saucepan with a drop of lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Add the fruit to the pan and allow it to simmer for an hour, then remove the pan from the heat and leave the fruit in the pan for a few hours. When ready, rremove the fruit from the pan and leave it to dry before using it to decorate the Brioche. You can then use the syrup to flavour drinks and ice cream!

Background

Home: Provence, Occitania, Roussillon (France), Romandy (Switzerland)
Pronunciation:
/bʁi.jɔʃ de ʁwa/ (bree-osh de rrhwa)

Relatives: Galette des Rois (Northern France), Dreikönigskuchen (Germany), Bolo-Rei (Portugal), Roscón de Reyes (Spain),  Rosca de Reyes (Latin America), Koningentaart (Belgium), King Cake (Louisiana, U.S.)

History

Epiphany is a Christian feast day which directly follows Twelfth Night, and is the celebration of the revelation of Jesus. Eastern Christians celebrate it by commemorating Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, while Western Christians commemorate the visit of the Magi (the Three Kings, or Wise Men) to baby Jesus: both events represent Jesus’ physical manifestation to the world and the people living in it.

King Cakes are eaten at Epiphany in numerous countries that follow Western Christian traditions. There are many national and regional varieties of King Cake (see ‘relatives’): Brioche des Rois (Kings’ Brioche) is the Provençal version. The cakes are named after the Three Kings whose visit to baby Jesus is being celebrated, and most versions are shaped into a hollow circle and decorated with candied fruit so that they look like a king’s crown. A notable exception is the northern French Galette des Rois, which is solid and not hollow: the southern French brioche is shaped and decorated more similarly to the Spanish Roscón de Reyes and Portuguese Bolo-Rei than to it’s northern relative.

It’s traditional in many countries to hide either a bean or figurine in the King Cake: whoever finds it is declared king or queen of the feast and given a crown to wear!

Provence, France
Robert Brink, Lavender field and Mont Ventoux, 2005
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lavender_field_and_Mont_Ventoux.jpg [accessed 06/01/2021] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License)

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