BBA #4: Brioche
First of all, can I just say how sweet it is that some of you have contacted me to make sure everything is okay since I haven’t posted in over a week? Thank you! Everything is A.O.K., we’ve just had an unbelievably busy weekend and early week — family wedding shower, high school graduation, and big house-building event — which meant lots of preparation and packing and some cooking and go-go-go-ing and not having much time to stop to take a breath, much less blog. But now we’re home, settling back in, catching up on rest, and getting back into our more relaxed daily routine. Bear with me as I catch up on emails and comments; I have a few posts lined up to share as well, just need to…um…write them. But without further ado, I’m a few days late on posting my latest Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge bread, so let’s hop to it!
The next bread in the challenge was one I love, and one that I think is pretty much universally loved: brioche! Mmmmm. Buttery and rich and flaky, this is not one to make a practice of snacking idly on if you don’t plan on turning into a butter ball yourself, but it is absolutely delicious with some homemade jam alongside a cup of coffee, or in sandwiches, or french toast, or bread pudding. And for those of us who want to choose how much butter goes into our brioche, Peter Reinhart offered three different variations on the basic recipe: Rich Man’s, Middle Class, and Poor Man’s Brioche. I’m not one to shy away from butter, but having heard that the Rich Man’s version was a little extreme on the butter factor, I decided to go with the Middle Class brioche.
The dough was a breeze to make, even more so because I used the recommended method of mixing the dough in my electric stand mixer.
mise en place: butter, flour, eggs, salt, yeast, sugar and whole milk
As with many of the breads I’ve made for BBA so far, this one started with a sponge: flour, yeast and milk mixed together and left to ferment until bubbly, about 30-45 minutes.
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble…
After the sponge had fermented, I mixed in the remaining flour, yeast and salt, then added the butter in pieces until it was all incorporated into a sticky mass. Some BBA-ers mixed their dough by hand, to which I say, kudos to them — you’d get some pretty good arm muscles built up mixing all that butter in manually!
glad I’m doing this with my stand mixer!
Next went the eggs, one by one, mixing until each egg was incorporated. The resulting dough was satiny and slightly sticky.
At this point, I spread the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and covered it, then into the fridge it went for an overnight rest.
The next day, the dough had risen slightly — I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to rise more — and I began shaping it, working with it while it was cold. If you let the dough get too warm, the butter content can make it difficult to easily shape.
I decided to divide the dough in half and use one half to make a loaf, and the other half to make brioche à tête rolls, which are the little individual fluted rolls with a “hat” on top. These started out promisingly enough but…well…you’ll see what happened. I couldn’t find any brioche à tête molds at our local restaurant supply store, but I did have a set of small metal tartlet pans that I thought I’d try using as a substitution.
shaping a brioche à tête
loaf and brioche à têtes, ready to proof
After I shaped the brioche à têtes and placed them in the metal tartlet pans, I realized I might have made them a little too large. I had seen in the BBA discussions that other people experienced this bread having terrific oven-spring, so at this point I was figuring between the proofing and the oven-spring, we might have a bit of an overflow situation on our hands…but it being a busy week last week, and me being pressed for time anyway, I figured we’d just see what happened and even if they sprung out of their pans, they’d probably still be tasty.
They rose quite a bit during their proofing, and after an egg wash, it was time for the moment of truth: into the oven they went.
hmm…we can already see an overpuff situation brewing…
After baking in the oven, I opened the door to find — gasp! — mutant brioche à têtes!! Oh, the horror! Actually, I thought they were kind of cute, in a so-obvious-what-happened-to-the-“hats” kind of way.
I mean, look at this. You can see exactly what happened: oven spring occurred and the little têtes on top had nowhere to go but to tip over! So sad.
This one I thought was particularly funny. It’s so obvious the path that it took to droop down…
But anyway, I did get two decent looking brioche à têtes out of the batch.
And the rest still tasted delicious, even if they do remind me of a flock of hens, pecking on the ground for seeds.
Oh – and the loaf turned out beautifully!
It had a light, airy crumb and just the right amount of butteriness for me.
Check out the BBA Challenge page if you want to see more Brioche creations, and stay tuned for some other non-bread related posts (hopefully soon!) Our CSA starts today — can’t wait for that!
Previous BBA Bread: Bagels
Up Next: Casatiello (a brioche-like bread with salami and provolone – I’m thinking picnic food!)