Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Brioche

It has been a long time since I have made brioche. A number of years ago, I took a baking class and brioche was part of the curriculum. Although I love its eggy, buttery taste, after trying it on my own, I decided brioche was one of those things it was better to get from a professional bakery.   The other day, I decided to revisit it and was surprised at how easy it was though it is a two day process. The use of a kitchen aid mixer helps the mixing process enormously and though it is time consuming process, the results are well worth it.

The recipe makes two loaves- good for immediate consumption and one to save for French toast at a later date.

Golden Brioche Loaves from Baking by Dorie Greenspan
2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the touch water
1/3 cup just-warm –to-the touch whole milk
3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
12 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature but still slightly firm

Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved.  Add the flour and salt and fit the mixer with a dough hook, if possible.  Cover the mixer with a kitchen towel so the flour does not go all over the place.  Turn the mixer on and off in a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour.  Increase the speed to medium low and mix for a minute or two until the flour is moistened.  It will be a fairly dry, shaggy mass.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes until the dough forms a ball.  Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in two tablespoon size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next.  The dough will be very soft.  Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40-60 minutes.  Deflate the dough by lifting up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap into the bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator.  Slap down the dough in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about two hours, and then leave the covered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

The next day, butter and flour tow 8 1/2x 41/2 inch loaf pans.  Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces.  Cut each piece of dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 /12 inches long.  Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the  loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1- 2 hours.  It took my loaves closer to 3-4 hours to rise, even though it was a very warm day.  I checked my original recipe for brioche and it allows for a rising time of  3 hours. Just be prepared for the variable.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Make the glaze, beating the egg with water.  Gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.  Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 -35 minutes. Cool on a  rack for 15 minutes and then turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert and cool for at least 1 hour. ((post by susan))

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