Tag Archives: brioche

Buttery, billowy brioche – BBA challenge recipe #4

I wasn’t exactly sure how I’d feel about brioche. My husband is so not a fan of rich breads, so I had that to worry about. Plus, I can’t say as I’d ever had really good brioche before. I’ve had it, but it always seemed kind of dry and just like a plain roll.

I have a new attitude about brioche now. And this recipe has further demonstrated the amazingly professional results you get baking from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. My brioche were absolutely gorgeous:

Wouldn’t you agree? And yes, they were delicious too. I made the middle class version and it was very much like a dense croissant – it does peel away in those gorgeous buttery flakes but isn’t as light and airy. It made perfect, if rich, burger buns. Only there aren’t any left to freeze, as I had originally planned – these got eaten up pretty darn quickly.

It started, as so many good breads do, with a sponge. This one is made with warm milk:

It fermented only for about 40 minutes. This is the first recipe in the challenge for which I used my mixer:

I am really glad I had it – this bread is an absolute breeze to make with a mixer, which is really saying something for such astounding results. Once the sponge has fermented, you first mix in the beaten eggs, then add flour, salt, and sugar (since I intended this for savory buns, I added a scant 1.5 T sugar instead of the recommended 2) to the sponge and mix until it is all hydrated. At this point, it has the shaggy, floury look of most bread doughs, aside from a golden color because of the eggs:

But then you begin to add the butter, 1/4 at a time (this recipe uses two sticks – I left them out overnight to ensure complete softness and mixability), and the dough turns into a glossy, sexy, gorgeous, frosting-like substance:

You use the paddle to mix the dough, and Reinhart mentions that the dough will want to climb it. I wasn’t actually having that problem at all until I scraped down the sides. After that, I couldn’t get it off the paddle, but fortunately the mixing process was nearly through then. You scrape the dough into a rectangle on some oiled parchment – the dough was very gooey but held together beautifully, coming out of the mixing bowl in one cohesive clump. Check out the pre and post rise dough:

I chilled the dough only the recommended 4 hours, which seemed fine, although the last portion I shaped was starting to get a bit difficult. I used the bench scraper to divide the dough, which was definitely a necessity. It was tough to decide on portions, because the dough is quite dense and I wasn’t sure how much it would rise. I ended up with 6 rolls and two brioches a tete (I couldn’t resist not making at least a few of these classic shapes, and I used two really small tart pans for the molds. It worked perfectly and I’m really glad I did them because they are adorable!), although I could have reduced the roll size – they got HUGE.
With everything shaped, time to proof. The rolls:

And the brioches a tete:

wipe that smirk off your face!

They rose a lot in proofing, but nothing could have prepared me for how much bigger they’d get in the oven. Oven spring city! And they smelled kind of like roasting marshmallows while they were baking. I was delighted when I pulled them out of the oven:

Unfortunately, my oven is not that wide and I put one pan of rolls on the lower-middle shelf. I should have rotated them, because the egg wash burned a bit on the bottom of the rolls on that pan. Live and learn – and try not to also be roasting potatoes, grilling burgers, and cooking green beans at the same time if you don’t want that to happen to you.
Though it is definitely rich, it is delicious and beautiful and makes perfect buns. The soft texture and golden color, along with the glossy crust, makes it look like they came from a fancy bakery. I truly cannot get over how professional the results are and how little actual work is require to produce such amazing bread. Brioche is probably the first bread I’ve made in the challenge that I wouldn’t have made otherwise, just because it isn’t the kind of thing we normally eat. But I will most definitely make it again – it is especially perfect for fancy breakfasts, because the dough could be refrigerated over night, and the final proofing and baking take relatively little time.


I made more bagels

So soon? Yes. Like I said, I just wasn’t up for brioche yet (flavor-wise, not baking-wise). Couple that with the fact that I had to revive some starter to mail to a fellow baker – something which I had said I was going to do several weeks ago, actually – and the fact that Friday, before I left the office, the kitchen was doing a cleaning and was giving away two pounds of high gluten flour. If that wasn’t a sign that I should be making bagels over the weekend, I don’t know what is.

I ended up doing the wild yeast starter version. My starter had revived beautifully – nicer than I had seen it do in some time, so I was especially excited. I subbed 5 cups of the active starter for the sponge and increased the yeast in the dough. I also did a 20 minute autolyse once all the flour had been incorporated in hopes of minimizing the kneading. I think it worked, though it’s hard to say because the high gluten flour changed the dough so much. It definitely made the dough more satin-y and pleasant to knead, in any case.

Though I followed the recipe exactly and weighed out the dough to portion it, I ended up with 14 bagels instead of 12! Not quite sure how that happened, it must have been the starter. Not that I’m complaining, just mentioning it. Also the bagels dried out a lot in the fridge. I just kind of draped plastic wrap over them, which is what I did the first time as well, but many of them had dried considerably. They rehydrated with the boil, so no apparent harm done – I’m just not sure if this was because of insufficient wrapping, the high gluten flour, my totally bizarre and unpredictable refrigerator, or a combination.

I did some onion bagels this time, which we loved – I just chopped fresh onion and tossed the pieces with olive oil. They wanted to roll off the bagels, so they required deliberate placement instead of random sprinkling.

I topped most of them with an “everything” mix of poppy seed, sesame seed, and kosher salt but also did a few with Aleppo pepper, just because it was out on the counter. The red color is really pretty:

It helps that we love spicy food.

So now I’m ready and excited for brioche. I’ve decided on the middle class brioche, because I’ll basically be making poor man’s for other breads to come, like casatiello and panetone, and because I don’t know what the heck I’d do with that much rich man’s brioche. I’m going to make rolls and split and freeze most of them for burger buns for summer grill-outs. It will be nice to have good bread on hand – I suspect that frozen homemade brioche is still tastier than most anything I can get in the nearby shops!

Two parting thoughts –
I made matzoh this weekend too. It turned out awesome. I really didn’t think it would be so easy and so delicious. We ate it all in one sitting without taking a single photo. It’s a great recipe to have in your repertoire because it is so quick, you can whip it up at the last minute and it will be better than the stale crackers you were contemplating eating.
Basically, you just combine 2 cups flour (I used all-purpose) and 1 cup of water along with a teaspoon or so of salt. Mix it, adding more flour if necessary, to make a dry-ish, manageable dough. Divide into four portions and roll each one out as thin as possible. Prick with a fork and toss one on to your baking stone in your well-preheated 500 degree oven. This sounds tricky, but it wasn’t – the dough is stiff enough to be transfered easily. Bake each portion for about 5 minutes, until it is bubbled up and well browned in areas.

We were at the grocery store yesterday and I happened to notice a display of yeast packets. They had regular, and rapid rise, and then they had “pizza crust yeast”. What? Why? Anyone know what makes this “pizza crust yeast” more appropriate for pizza than standard yeast, or is this just a really stupid marketing ploy?