Enriched bread dough, sweet bread dough or brioche dough is something very appreciated in Morocco. Our Sephardic Moroccans have been making their wonderful Hallot/Hallah * (enriched bread served for Shabbat) which we also find in some bakeries during Ramadan in different shapes (crown, mini rolls, braided). The same sort of bread was made for centuries in the Arab word and Ottoman Empire. It was either prepared plain or laminated with fat or cheese.
Then in the 19th century, French baking injected a bit of influence on Moroccan baking due to the years of colonization. So finding French brioches in Morocco is a common thing.
Casablanca, being a city of melting pot with an important pieds-noirs fingerprint, we use to get to try things at first hand before the rest of Moroccan cities. That was valid before Marrakesh took over with its increasing number of restaurant openings and Chef coming from all over the world to settle in.
These savoury brioches make a good starter on a Ramadan table, or just part of a buffet if you’re hosting a crowd. Fill them with anything you like and serve them at room temperature.
The other good thing about these mini-brioches, they’re freezer-friendly.
Makes about 40
Prep: 20 min – Proofing: 2 hrs – Baking: 20 min
- 500 g of strong bread flour
- 30 cl water and milk (50%-50%), lukewarm
- 80 g of butter, soft, see notes (**)
- 30 g of caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp of dried instant yeast
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp of milk or water
- Crushed black pepper, Caraway seeds, nigella seeds….
Fillings (suggestion of 3 types)
- Small cooked meatballs, salad leaves, tomato sauce or ketchup, hard cheese, gherkins
- Crab/shrimp/tuna pâté or rillettes, salad leaves or rocket, gherkins or capers, hard cheese, sliced tomatoes, basil leaves.
- Cream cheese or labneh or jben, lettuce leaves or rocket, cucumber, thyme or chopped mint, black pepper
- Green olives, capers, cherry tomatoes..
Mix the yeast with 2 tbsps of lukewarm water.
Make the dough by mixing all ingredients. Knead with a machine up to 10 minutes (flip the dough each 3 minutes and knead starting with speed 2 then finish with 3). Add bits of butter passed the first 3 minutes of kneading and carry on.
Cover and set aside to double in volume. Fold the dough on itself 3 times to redistribute the gas bubbles.
Cut small dough balls (about 20g each) and roll them to have a smooth surface all around. Cover and set aside.
Preheat the oven at 200 degrees C. Egg wash the mini-brioches and sprinkle different seeds to your liking.
Bake at 180 degrees for 15 to 20 min or until it looks nicely golden.
Place them on a kitchen towel and cover. Use them when they’re at room temperature.
I suggested 3 types of filling which can be served at room temperature. You could obviously get creative and make your own combinations.
Top each mini brioche sandwich with a caper, half a cherry tomato or an olive. Use toothpick to keep the mini brioche sandwich holding together.
(*) Unlike a regular brioche dough, Hallot/Hallah is an enriched bread dough which has no dairy (milk/butter).due to religious restrictions. Water is used all the way while oil replaces butter.
(**) It’s also perfectly fine to substitute butter with 30 ml of olive oil and an egg, but then you need to add this along with the rest of the ingredients then you start kneading, unlike for the the butter.