Not just your ordinary ham and cheese toasted sandwich, this classy version boasts gruyère cheese, ham off the bone and brioche bread — perfect for when the French aristocracy drop in for brunch. If you go to the effort of making your own brioche you won’t regret it, especially when you pull the warm, golden, buttery loaf from the oven! If you don’t have the time you can use a loaf from your local bakery.
Artwork by Fanny Dolhain: digital illustration
Preparation time: 15 minutes + add another 5 hours for homemade brioche
Cooking time: 10 minutes + add 40 minutes for homemade brioche
20 g (3/4 oz) butter
4 slices homemade brioche (see below)
2 teaspoons mustard
6 slices leg ham off the bone
4 slices gruyère cheese
300 g (101/2 oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
7 g (1/4 oz/2 teaspoons) active dried yeast
2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
150 g (51/2 oz) butter, softened
3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk extra for glazing
a pinch of salt
80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) milk, at room temperature
To make the brioche, combine all ingredients, except the milk, in a large bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes by hand or 6 minutes with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean damp tea towel (dish towel) and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 3 hours.
Lightly grease a 1.25 litre (44 fl oz/5 cup) capacity brioche tin. Punch down the dough, then incorporate 3 tablespoons of the milk into the dough until evenly combined. Place into the prepared tin and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour to rise.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF/Gas 6). Combine the remaining milk and the egg yolk in a bowl and use it to brush the top of the bricohe. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into slices as needed.
To make the toasties, spread a layer of butter on one side of each brioche slice — this will be the outside of the toastie. On the other side, spread a thin layer of mustard. Layer the ham and cheese on the mustard, then top with the remaining slices, butter side outwards, and press down firmly. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Place the toasties in the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for a few minutes on each side, or until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown. Remove from the pan and serve hot.