Tuesdays with Dorie: Golden Brioche Loaves

August 23, 2011

It wasn't lightning, it was warmth. That feeling of comfort you get when you find that spot in the sun before waking up in the morning.

It was eight years ago, I was an idealistic yet logical 25 year old sitting in a Canadian airport, waiting for a flight to Paris. It was eight years ago that my eyes locked with his and my heart knew (long before my far-too-rational head), that this was home...not the place we drive to at the end of the day, but the feeling we want to drive towards at the end of the day.

The earth didn't move, but my world shifted because everything made sense. I had never seen eyes so blue before, I had never been so at peace with myself before, and I had never felt as complete as I did during those beautiful 10 minutes of stolen back and forth glances in uncomfortable seats. Then came his quietly powerful "Hi". Even though we had never met, I knew him. And the way he looked at me, told me that he knew me too. Not the 'me' that I put on for the rest of the world, the real me.

Unfortunately, my ever-present shadow known as doubt, managed to creep into even the most sacred moment of my life. "How can this be? I'm on my way to Paris, why would everything that's missing in my life be here of all places? What am I supposed to do with this just-pass-Go ticket...with this treasure that some people spend their entire lives looking for? This can't be...I'm allowing a romantic Parisian-bound imagination to get the better of me."

And with that pseudo-solidified thought, I slowly got up to use the ladies room. Once I rounded the corner, as soon as he was out of my field of vision, I knew I had done something wrong. I was scared. You see, I don't fall in love easily, and the whole at-first-sight notion was something best saved for movies and Nicholas Sparks novels...or so I thought.

But what did I know? I was 25. 25 year olds are not supposed to find The One so soon, so easily. But I had. I did. And I let him get away. A very long 15 minutes later, when I gathered up the courage to go out and face what I was sure was my destiny, he was gone. Only a 'Hi', and he was gone. He was going to say more, I kept averting my eyes every time it felt like too much to take in. "Why did I break eye contact? Why didn't I speak up? Why do I have to be so afraid of everything, all the time?"

Eight years ago I made the biggest mistake of my life. And to this day, I have to live with that knowledge. I was the one who left. That never gets easy, never. Regret is not a house guest. It stays, it plants roots, it reminds you of what you're missing in subtly painful ways. The couple in their 80's laughing together quietly on a park bench, the photos your camera will never take, a curtain pleat that reminds you of a slight smile-induced crease at the inner-left eyebrow that you instantly noticed and fell in love with (and would only love more as the years passed), and those eyes..It's amazing what a lovely scar 10 minutes, eight years ago has made.

Up until now, only one other person has ever heard all of this, so please be gentle. I know you're wondering what in the world this has to do with brioche? Well, it was one of the few things that could, at least for a moment, transport me to a happier place. During my nights in Paris, I would nibble on the mini-brioche loaves that I had smuggled in a breakfast napkin, and while gazing at the gorgeous rooftops and skyline, I'd cry . Yet each rich, butter-filled bite was a source of comfort. If I had figured correctly, based on where we were sitting at the airport, He had been on his way to Vancouver. So with a moth-like ability to figure out left from right and up from down, I would find the direction that I thought was correct and with all my will, focus on the hope and belief that we would meet again someday. Romantic, isn't it...crying, and wishing you were somewhere other than Paris?

Nothing can compare to the brioche (or baguettes) found in Paris. But Dorie's recipe comes very, very, close. And what's even more surprising is the fact that it's not that difficult to make...even if, like me, you have an irrational fear of working with yeast. The loaves are brilliantly rich, and they're bursting with so much butter that you really don't need to spread them with anything, although a quick dip and smear of Nutella never hurts. :-)

For the complete recipe, please click here to visit Margie, of Tea and Scones. Thank you Margie, I never thought I would be brave enough to attempt making my own brioche, let alone face such a hauntingly beautiful memory.


  1. What a beautifully nostalgic and sad post. Hopefully you'll meet again...

    I think that most of us would chicken out and act as you did, even if we are not 25 anymore.

    That brioche is splendid and must have a dreamlike taste as well as texture!



  2. This is so beautiful, and so moving. "Regret is not a house guest" is just breathtaking. You are a wonderful writer. Thank you so much for sharing this very personal story with us.

  3. And that is what food is supposed to do - bring back memories, feelings, good or bad.

    Beautifully stated.

    Thanks for baking with me this week.

  4. Wow, this is quite a post. I certainly hope that you feel that way again, soon. It seems almost silly to say, but the bread looks lovely.

  5. Your loaf is beautiful! And the story...life takes us in so many directions and you just never know. You'll never know but you just have to keep going.

  6. Beautiful bread, sad story. Life can be hard at times, that's why we have Dorie! Have a great week.

  7. Thanks for the kind words, everyone!

    I honestly didn't mean for this story to bring anyone down. It's just that I hadn't allowed myself to think as much about it until I made this brioche. It's funny how food and music can bring things back such vivid moments. :)

  8. your writing is amazing. i feel like i got a glimpse into YOU through this post. and it has touched me.

  9. Food really brings back memories, especially the smell of foods, though this wasn´t a pleasant memory. It´s a good thing we have baked goods to comfort ourselves in hard times. The best remedy!

  10. I have only made brioche once, and it was a daunting task. The texture on your loaf looks amazingly beautiful. I will bet it was wonderful! Excellent work.

    Your story is powerful and touching as well. Life is an interesting journey, and I have to believe events like that prepare us for better things down the road. Thanks for sharing!

  11. im so jelly of your yeast bread skills! everytime i make something with yeast, it goes terribly wrong!

  12. Wow, what a memory! Amazing how such a brief moment leaves a lasting impression.

    Brioche looks like perfect, hope you enjoyed it

  13. What a beautifully written post, Valerie! Oh how I hope your paths will cross again, my dear. You certainly deserve those park bench moments and joy-filled photographs! As for the brioche, I'm in heaven just looking at it. You don't need to fear yeast at all!


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
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Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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