Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Oh, Brioche

Brioche has been on my "hit list" of must bakes for awhile now. I've surprisingly only had brioche once (made into French toast...fabulous!) but it seems like something that is just a baking staple.

When looking for recipes, I stayed away from all of my bread books thinking they would give me the harder way to make this, they always do. And it does turn out that there are more streamlined ways to make brioche. I was happy to see that La Tartine Gourmande had a very down to earth, dare I say easy, brioche recipe. But for my first time, I wanted the full experience.

I found a recipe through Epicurious that seemed like the real mccoy. Let's see - beat in a lot of butter (check). Let is slow rise in the refrigerator overnight (check). Stir the dough once every 30 minutes for 2 hours while slow rising (check). There seemed to be enough hours of both work and waiting to make this recipe feel authentic enough for me.

The experience was awesome, if you can say that about making bread. This dough was one of the best I've ever worked with, probably because of the butter to flour ratio (my flab would rather not think about this). The dough was silky smooth and yet elastic at the time time. I loved it!

I loved the dough, until I baked it and was able to eat it.

OH MY SWEET GOODNESS. Is it a croissant? Or a loaf of bread? This crazy hybrid butter-fest was so light on the tongue and yet so rich. It was worth every minute of prep, and all three sticks of butter (don't think I'm joking!). Maybe next time I'll go for an easier version if I'm in a time crunch, but the process to make this was too much fun.

Golden Brioche

1/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1/3 cup warm milk (105°F to 115°F)
2 envelopes dry yeast
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, each stick cut into 4 pieces, room temperature
1 egg, beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze)

Place 1/3 cup warm water, warm milk, and yeast in bowl of standing heavy-duty mixer; stir until yeast dissolves. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add flour and salt to bowl; mix on low speed just until flour is moistened, about 10 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
Beat in 3 eggs on low speed, then add sugar. Increase speed to medium and beat until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.
Add butter, 1 piece at a time, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding next (dough will be soft and batter-like). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Lift up dough around edges and allow dough to fall and deflate in bowl. Cover bowl with plastic and chill until dough stops rising, lifting up dough around edges and allowing dough to fall and deflate in bowl every 30 minutes, about 2 hours total. Cover bowl with plastic; chill dough overnight.
Butter and flour three 7 1/2x3 1/2x2-inch loaf pans. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Cut each dough piece into 4 equal pieces. Roll each into 3 1/2-inch-long log, forming 12 logs total. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in bottom of each prepared loaf pan. Place loaf pans on baking sheet. Cover pans with waxed paper. Let loaves rise at room temperature until dough almost fills pans, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Gently brush top of loaves with egg glaze. Bake until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes.
Turn loaves out onto racks; cool at least 1 hour. (Can be made ahead. Cool completely. Wrap loaves in foil; place in resealable plastic bags and store at room temperature 1 day or freeze up to 1 month. Rewarm room-temperature or thawed loaves wrapped in foil in 350°F oven about 15 minutes, if desired.)

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