Get a little taste of summer in Sicily with Julia Busuttil Nishimura's coffee granita with whipped cream and brioche

Get a little taste of summer in Sicily with Julia Busuttil Nishimura’s coffee granita with whipped cream and brioche

Whether it’s for breakfast or a snack, granita and brioche is the epitome of a summer treat. As the granita melts, the cream and coffee merge to make a kind of slush, which is every bit as delicious as it sounds. This must-try recipe from Julia Busuttil Nishimura is featured within the pages of her new book A Year of Simple Family Food and is an ode to summer holidays in Sicily, where there are no rules and granita with whipped cream and brioche becomes a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Tip, you may need to start the brioche the day before you want to eat it so you can let the dough prove overnight in the fridge.

2 tablespoons caster sugar
400 ml very strong espresso
juice of 1/2 lemon
250 ml (1 cup) pure cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar, sifted
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon, plus extra to serve

For the brioche
150 ml full-cream milk
300 g tipo 00 flour, sifted
100 g Manitoba 0 flour (if you can’t find Manitoba flour, use any other strong flour)
7 g active dry yeast
80 g caster sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
100 g unsalted butter, softened

For the egg wash
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon full-cream milk


Dissolve the sugar into the coffee and allow to cool. Stir in the lemon juice, pour the mixture into a shallow dish and place in the freezer. Every hour for the next four hours or so, use a fork to scrape the mixture, creating fluffy ice crystals. Once the granita has been frozen and fluffed it is ready to serve.

Meanwhile, to make the dough for the brioche, warm the milk in a small saucepan over a low heat for 1–2 minutes. The milk should be a little hotter than lukewarm, around 40°C. If it becomes too hot, allow to cool slightly before using. Place the flours, yeast, sugar, honey, eggs, lemon and orange zest, vanilla and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix for 10 minutes on high speed. Add the salt and continue to mix for another 10 minutes. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing well, and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, usually another 10 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl lightly greased with butter and cover. Leave to sit in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size or, alternatively, cover and allow to rise slowly in the fridge for 8–12 hours. Bring the dough back to room temperature before beginning the next step if refrigerated.

Using a pastry scraper or your hands, tip the dough onto a clean work surface. Cut the dough into eight even-sized pieces and then cut a small piece (about a fifth) from each of those pieces of dough. Now you should have eight large pieces and eight small pieces. Form each of the larger pieces into a ball and place on a baking paper–lined baking tray, allowing plenty of space for them to expand. Roll the small pieces into balls and set aside.

Press into the middle of each larger ball with your finger, almost touching the bottom. Combine the ingredients for the egg wash, then brush a little in and around the hole you just made. Place a small ball into each of the holes.

Cover the brioche buns lightly with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 2 hours in a warm space.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake the brioche buns for 15–20 minutes, or until golden and cooked through and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Whip the cream with the icing sugar and lemon zest until you have soft billowy peaks.

Serve the granita in glasses with a generous dollop of the lemon-scented whipped cream, a brioche bun and an extra sprinkle of lemon zest.

This is an edited extract from A Year of Simple Family Food by Julia Busuttil Nishimura. Published by Plum. Photographer: © Armelle Habib.

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