- 1/2 cup warm water (115 F)
- 3 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup, plus 1 TBSP fine white sugar
- 2 1/4 cups French T55 pastry flour
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 6 large eggs, room temperature (5 whole, one separated)
- 1/4 cup crushed ice
- 3 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes
- 1 1/2 cups (225 grams, or 8oz) Belgian pearl sugar, chilled in the freezer
- Freeze the Belgian pearl sugar in a small bagg in the freezer for at least one hour ahead
- In a small bowl, combine the warm water, 1 TBSP fine sugar, and yeast. Set this aside for 5-10 minutes, or until the yeast becomes very frothy and active.
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, sift together the flour, salt, and the rest of the fine sugar. Stir after sifting to be sure everything is mixed.
- Make a well in the middle, and add all (6) of the egg yolks and 5 of the egg whites (reserve one white for later – this can be set in a small bowl with plastic wrap pressed directly on top and stored in the fridge).
- Pour the yeast mixture in with the eggs, and begin mixing (on low speed with your stand mixer’s dough hook, or with your hands or a wooden spoon), stirring from the center out – lightly beating the eggs, and then slowly incorporating more and more of the flour.
- Turn your mixer to medium-low (or knead by hand) for a good 5-6 minutes (or 6-8 minutes by hand). The dough should be fairly stiff – if it is too sticky too knead, add up to one TBSP more flour. Once all of the dry is incorporated into the wet and the dough has come together, let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the crushed ice, and one cube of butter. Mix on low speed (or knead with your hands) until the butter has disappeared before adding another cube. Continue until all of the butter is added – the dough should become very sticky and shaggy. Continue mixing (or kneading) for a good 8-10 minutes (or 10-15 minutes by hand), until the dough is a silky (and sloppy) mess. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often to be sure all of the butter is integrated.
- Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly greased bowl (at least twice the size of the dough itself) and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours. At this point the dough can be used immediately, refrigerated overnight, or frozen in an air-tight container for up to one week.
- Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
- Peel the dough out of its container and set on a lightly floured surface. Using a knife or bench scraper, divide the dough in half. Take each half and cut off a small ball of dough, approximately 1/8th – 1/4 of the size of the half. Set these smaller balls of dough aside for later.
- To one of the larger chunks, press in a handful of Belgian pearl sugar, flattening the dough into a wide square. Fold the dough over itself like an omelet, and press in another handful of pearl sugar, now creating a rectangle. Repeat 1-2 more times, pressing and folding, or until half of the pearl sugar is used. Shape the last rectangle into a cylinder the length of your loaf pan.
- Roll (or press with your fingers) one of the smaller dough balls into a long thin envelope and wrap it around the larger cylinder, pinching to seal at the bottom. Place in one of the greased loaf pans, seam side down, and repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Brush the top of each loaf with some of the remaining egg white. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let the dough proof for 4 hours, or until doubled in size. The loaves should rise up to the tops of the pans. They will be sticky to the touch, but feel very soft and full of air - gently poke the center of one loaf.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Brush once more with the rest of the egg white, and using your pastry brush (or fingers) gently make a shallow indentation in the shape of an X across the tops of the loaves – this will help them bake evenly, but don’t worry, the loaves will puff up as they bake in the oven.
- Optional but delicious: sprinkle with a extra Belgian pearl sugar on top.
- Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. The tops should be dark golden brown when finished (an instant-read thermometer inserted to the center of a loaf should read 200 F). Set the loaf pans on a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pans.
Enjoy these loaves warm and fresh, or let cool completely before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and storing in the freezer for up to one month.