So a couple of weeks ago, I tried my hand at brioche bread. I didn’t know that I had picked a recipe for “light” brioche until the baking was in process. So last week, I decided to try my hand at the upper crust kind – full of buttery goodness and all the guilt associated with it.
While there are a number of videos showing the proper way to hand-knead the dough, it was hard to find a good recipe. For the record, hand-kneading the dough was totally by choice and had nothing to do with the fact that I don’t have a stand mixer. Promise! I always like to do it the long way before I take a shortcut. Next time though, I may take my neighbor up on his offer to use his mixer, as a combined hour and half of slamming and stretching made my arms feel like overcooked spaghetti. Yes, way beyond al dente.
I did make a couple of mistakes. The first was that I let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, in AN AIRTIGHT CONTAINER. Duh! I knew better, but I did it anyway. Blame it on my spaghetti arms which must have led to a case of mushy brains. When I opened the container the next morning, there was pretty much zero rise. Doh! Or I guess in this instance, “Dough!” would be the proper exclamation. Also, I followed a recipe that specified water instead of milk. Again, not sure why I did it, as I know full well that milk will provide a much better flavor in any baked good compared to water. “Double dough!”
Regardless, I gave one loaf to my sister, who happened to have a houseful of in-laws in town. I also kept a loaf for ourselves. And because I had a little extra dough, I tried to make a couple of etat just to see how it works. They did not come out very well, as my dough wasn’t as well developed as I would have liked, which in turn was not conducive to shaping the bread.
Here’s the recipe I adapted using a few different recipes I stumbled upon:
1/3 cup very warm water, 110-115 degrees (next time I will try the same amount of whole milk instead!)
One 1/4-oz. package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2-1/2 cups cake flour (I used bread flour – the same as I did for the “light” version)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel or fine sea salt
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2-1/2 sticks (10 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes at room temperature
In large bowl, add flour, sugar, salt and yeast, with the last 3 ingredients put in little corners on top of flour. Pick up the yeast and rub it into the flour using the palms of your hands. Then mix the whole of it really well with your hands.
Add the eggs and water (or milk). Use a pastry scraper in the bowl to mix it all well.
Put the dough on the counter and start the slap and stretch. Periodically use the scraper to get the dough off the counter. The process should take about 8-10 minutes for those that are experienced. When it’s ready, it should come off your hands easily when you slap it down.
Flatten the dough out and put the butter on top (part 7:09 in the video link below). Fold it in and push down into the dough. Then begin working the dough again, this time for about 5-6 minutes, using the scraper periodically. DO this quickly until the dough comes off your hands easily. (Okay, this part took me over an hour. I just could not get the clean dimple or window pane!) By the way, resist the urge to add lots of flour to the counter or dough. The dough is supposed to be relatively sticky.
Put a little flour on the table and fold the dough over it a few times to shape.
Let the dough rise in warmth for about an hour or two. The warmer the spot, the faster it will rise. Then refrigerate (covered but NOT in an airtight container) for about 14 hours or overnight.
When risen, put the dough on lightly floured counter and fold it over on itself to make a log 9:30 in video). You can now cut even doughballs. Put these in your baking container. Cover and let proof for an hour or two. Again, the warmer it is, the faster it will rise, so use your best judgment.
When done, brush with well beaten egg mixture (one egg, tsp of water and either a little sugar or a little salt). Cook on 350 for 25-30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it’s nice and golden on top. I also used a toothpick just to make sure there was no dough in the center. When it’s done, let it cool (if you can wait that long!!)
Here’s a video of Richard Bertinet, showing us how it’s done. But he does not share the recipe and I think they must omit certain parts of the ingredients going in….
My sister left me a voicemail the next day, describing every delicious detail as she experienced this bread for breakfast. I was so proud of myself! She said they all loved it and then begged me to make a loaf for her again when I try my next round. My husband probably got the best of it, as I had baked it in the morning and he just so happened to come home for lunch that day. So I warmed up some soup, and made grilled cheese sandwiches out of fa few thick slices. Needless to say, he fully enjoyed himself!
If anyone has suggestions on the recipe – I’d love to hear them!!!