“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast,” author John Gunter once remarked. You’d be unlikely to find a chef in L.A. who would agree more with that statement than Zoe Nathan. She’s the chef-restaurateur who, along with her husband Josh Loeb, own and operate Santa Monica institutions Huckleberry, Rustic Canyon, Sweet Rose Creamery, and Milo & Olive.
Her first-ever cookbook Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes From Our Kitchen, which hit bookstores yesterday, offers exactly what you’d expect from one of the city’s most celebrated bakers, and then some. With help from fellow baker Laurel Almerinda, the book spans the entire spectrum of her restaurant’s vast breakfast repertoire—including vanilla apricot pound cake, gluten-free banana chocolate muffins, vegetable croque monsieur, baked apples with oat crumble, barley porridge with kale and sausage, and beer-baked eggs with peppers and onions.
Yet the most iconic recipe in its pages is the one that stares out at you from the cover: a mesmerizing sugar-dusted loaf of brioche streaked with a vibrant, galactic swirl of juicy blueberries. Nathan calls it “sweet enough that you know you’re having a pastry but not so sweet that you can’t eat an entire loaf,” and describes serving it fresh from the oven to a group of friends as “one of the happiest moments while writing this book.” One additional recommendation from Nathan: “[D]on’t slice it, just drop it in the middle of the table and have people rip it apart…that’s love.”
Make sure to pick up a copy of the October issue of Los Angeles magazine, hitting newsstands in two weeks, to read more about Zoe Nathan and her inaugural cookbook.
Fresh Blueberry Brioche
From: Huckleberry, by Zoe Nathan
Makes 1 Loaf
1 1/2 cups/225 g fresh blueberries
2 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup + 2 tbsp/280 g all-purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp/280 g bread flour
6 1/2 tbsp/80 g sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp kosher salt
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp/140 g unsalted butter, very soft
1 batch Egg Wash (whisk 2 egg yolks + 2 tbsp heavy cream + pinch of salt)
1. Place the fresh blueberries on a plate and freeze in a single layer. Do not use frozen blueberries, as they are too watery.
2. 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, 21/2 tbsp of the sugar, the salt, eggs, and egg yolk to the bowl. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together,1 to 2 minutes.
3. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and work the dough for 6 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.
4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the butter, a little at a time, over the course of 2 minutes. After 1 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 to 6 minutes longer.
5. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press into a 16-by-10-in/40-by-25-cm rectangle. It does not need to be exact. Position the dough vertically, with a short side nearest you; distrib-ute the blueberries and 2 tbsp of the sugar along the top edge and gently roll down, toward you, into a log.
6. Place the log on a greased sheet pan, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.
7. Grease a 9-by-5-in/23-by-12-cm loaf pan. Reshape the dough one last time by pressing it into an approximate 12-by-6-in/30.5-by-15-cm rectangle and cover with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar. With the dough positioned vertically, roll down toward you, tightly this time.
8. 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 3 hours.
9. As the brioche nears readiness, preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C. 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 to 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 3 days, but who are we kidding, it will be lucky to survive 3 minutes out of the oven.