In the hectic side project that is dealing with my life, I have temporarily forgotten to update my little corner of the Internet.
Today, with my apologies, I offer you all a glimpse of the activity that I have been working at for the past month or so: brioche baking.
The urge to make my own brioche started from mere curiosity. I wanted to embark on the journey of making this traditional French bread...and balked at the idea that the entire process would take around fourteen hours.
However, most of the time in question involved waiting for the dough to rise.
Making a brioche (without a machine, mind you) can at times be frustrating, especially when the result you envisioned is far from the reality.
I offer, as an example, photographic evidence of what I entitle Brioche #1.
I won't sugarcoat my actions: Brioche #1 was a failure from the very beginning. I had used too much liquid which gave the dough a very fluid consistency, even after having dumped extra flour on it.
According to some tips that I had read, the brioche dough needed to proof for approximately ten hours in the refrigerator. Since my fridge's capacity to chill items proves highly effective, I worried that the temperature would slow down the yeast. Despite my better knowledge, I covered the bowl with a damp towel and set it in the fridge.
Ten hours later, the dough had hardened and the stiff towel formed a statue making an interesting cloth interpretation of a small table.
After waiting four extra hours for the dough to de-frost, it became runny once again, albeit in double of its original volume.
When I finally deemed the dough ready for shaping (after fourteen hours), I greased a pan with a knob of unsalted butter and divided the dough. As I found the braided technique too daunting for the first try, I thought that I would instead make five pull-apart briochins. I covered the pan with some aluminum foil and nestled it into the mini counter-top oven that has the bad habit of burning everything.
I started out with this:
|If you look closely, the dough's appearance is not at all smooth...|
|Three hours later: more rising and covered in an egg wash|
...And ended up with this.
|I only *wish* that I could have had a photo of the look of disappointment on my face when I saw this brioche come out of the oven.|
C'est la vie.
75 to 85-ish grams of softened salted butter
30 mL-ish of warm milk
2 teaspoons of cassonade (brown/turbinado sugar)
1 sachet/5 grams of brioche yeast (regular dry yeast works as well, but the taste will change)
Some salt to taste (but not too much since the butter already contains salt)
Egg wash + Pan
1 egg yolk
A splash of milk
Some extra butter to grease the pan
A firm grasp of sanity
Killer flexor and extensor muscles
1. Divide the butter into little squares. I do this first to allow for the butter to soften.
2. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
3. Add the warm milk and stir with a fork. The milk shouldn't be too hot; otherwise, it might kill the yeast.
4. Add eggs and mix with a wooden spoon.
The mixture will look very sticky at this point. If it looks/feels TOO dry, don't be afraid to add just a smidgen of milk.
5. Incorporate the butter into the dough in three parts. Use a fork to crush the butter.
6. Try to mix dough with a wooden spoon.
7. Give up and use hands. Thus commences the battle with the sticky dough to make it do what you want.
8. After a while, the dough will start form stringy strands but still remain horribly sticky. Keep battling.
9. Get a stiff pain in your lower arm. Shake arm for a few seconds before you resume the battle to mix the enemy.
10. Eventually, you'll notice that the strands will look more like a homogeneous mass as they start to cling to each other to form a ball. The dough will start sticking less and less to the surface you are working on (and your hands).
11. Knead dough and form it into a ball that has a slight even sheen from the glistening mixture of butter and wheat.
|Kinda like this (this picture of Brioche #2 will have to serve as a substitute as I hadn't thought of taking a picture of Brioche #5 during this step)|
12. Cover the bowl with a damp (not dripping) towel and place it near a heat source/in a room with no drafts.
13. Allow for 7 to 10 hours for the dough to proof. Yes. Really.
14. After the 7 to 10 hours have passed, dump the risen dough onto a surface and flatten it.
15. Divide the flattened dough into three segments
16. Roll each segment into a long tube.
18. Braid as if it were soft, stretchy hair.
|That's what I get for having a small pan that fits into the mini counter-top oven...|
23. Allow the bread to cool off for two hours before nomming.
Barb the French Bean