Friday, February 03, 2006

Brioche, brioche, brioche!

Good heavens! WHY did I say I would do this? My carpal tunnel has been severely exacerbated by this exercise, but here you go, as promised. First, the master brioche recipe, then the sticky bun variation, and as a bonus, the much-heralded pumpkin/sweet potato brioche. (Now I've got myself worked up into such a fervor that I feel compelled to go right home from work and start a batch of the latter which I may make with winter squash puree this time!)

Master Brioche (“Brioche is the gateway to the land of bread. Once you master it, everything else seems easy.” –Sherry Yard, The Secrets of Baking)

For the sponge:
¾ ounce (1 cake) fresh yeast or 2 ½ teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
½ cup bread flour (or all-purpose)

For the dough:
3 cups bread flour (or AP)
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ pound (2 sticks) butter, softened, but still cool

For the egg wash:
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

Sponge: Combine the yeast and milk in the bowl of standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and whisk until the yeast is dissolved. Stir in the sugar and flour, forming a thick batter. Cover with plastic film and let rest in a warm environment for 30-45 minutes. As fermentation begins, bubbles will form.

Dough:
1. Add the bread flour and salt to the sponge, then add the eggs. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes, or until the eggs are absorbed. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes. The dough will eventually begin to slap around and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Then it will form a ball on the paddle. Finally it will relax and reach back out to the sides of the bowl. At this point, it will be a shiny, satiny dough. While all of this is going on, don’t walk away. Watch the transformation and hold on to the mixer when necessary, since it may jump around. (Gina’s note: I had to switch to the dough hook for this part!)
2. On medium speed, add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Knead until the dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. Scrape out the dough, wash and dry the bowl, and coat it lightly with oil.
3. Place the dough in the oiled bowl and turn it so the top is coated with oil. Cover with plastic film and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
4. After the dough has doubled in volume, press down to deflate, folding one half into the other. Fold two or three times, either in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface. Cover with plastic film and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. (If you don’t have that much time, you can let the dough rise for the second time at room temperature. It will take 45-60 minutes.) This is the second rise.
5. Spray two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans or three 7- or 8-inch brioche a tete pans with pan spray.
6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough evenly in half. Cover one piece with plastic film while you shape the other. Dust the top of the dough lightly with all-purpose flour. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle equal to the length of the pan and double its width. Starting from a short side, roll up the dough seam side down in the prepared pan. Gently work the dough into the pan with your fingers so that it touches all sides. The dough should fill the pan halfway. Repeat with the remaining dough.
7. Cover the dough with plastic film coated with pan spray and let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size and filled the pans completely. It should take 1 ½-2 hours, depending on the temperature of your room. (If the dough has risen at room temperature the second time, the final proof will be only 15-20 minutes.)
8. Toward the end of the proofing, preheat the oven to 400F. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven.

Egg wash: Whisk together the egg and egg yolk in a small bowl. This will give the finished bread a dark golden brown crust. Gently brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash.

Baking:
1. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn down the oven temperature to 350F and bake for 30 minutes, or until the brioche has a dark golden crust, has an internal temperature of 180F (stick an instant read thermometer into the bottom of the loaf to hide the hole), and makes a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.
2. Remove the brioche from the pans as soon as they come out of the oven and cool on a rack before serving. When cool, the loaves can be wrapped tightly in plastic and frozen for up to 2 weeks. To use a frozen loaf, defrost at room temperature, wrap in aluminum foil, and refresh in a 350F oven for 10 minutes. Tightly wrapped loaves will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 days.


Sticky Buns (from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking)

½ recipe master brioche, prepared through step 4, the second rise

For the topping:
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

For the filling:
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ cup sugar
¼ cup raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature

While the brioche dough is rising, generously spray a large muffin pan with pan spray, both the cups and on top. Or spray a 9- or 10-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper, then spray the paper.

Topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, and the sugar on medium speed until smooth. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the topping in the bottom of each muffin cup. If using nuts, divide them evenly among the cups and sprinkle the topping over them. (Gina’s note: try using both walnuts and pecans, and use a whole cup!)

Filling and buns:
1. Combine the cinnamon, sugar, and raisins (if using—Gina says, ICK!) in a small bowl.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll it into a rectangle approximately 12x16 inches. Use a pastry brush to coat the entire surface of the dough with the milk. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin at the top edge. Starting from the long side closest to you, roll up the dough like a jellyroll. Transfer the log to a baking sheet, cover withy plastic film, and freeze for 10 minutes. This will make cutting the buns clean and even.
3. Using a bench scraper or chef’s knife, cut the log crosswise into 12 pieces, about 1 ½ inches thick. Place a bun in each muffin cup, cut side up or arrange them 1 inch apart in the cake pan.
4. Cover the dough with plastic film and let rise for 1 ½-2 hours (10 to 20 minutes if the second rise was at room temperature), or until the buns have doubled in size. At this point, the sticky buns can be wrapped tightly in plastic film and frozen for up to a week. Defrost slowly in the refrigerator before baking.
5. Toward the end of the proofing, preheat the oven to 400F. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven, with a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch drips.
6. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn down the oven temperature to 350F and bake for 15-20 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the topping is bubbly. Immediately invert them onto a serving platter. If they are not removed immediately, the topping will harden, making them impossible to remove nicely. Do not touch the topping; it’s hot! Let the buns cool before serving. Wrapped airtight, sticky buns will stay fresh for up to 2 days at room temperature or frozen for up to 1 week.


Pumpkin* Brioche (from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking)
*can be made with winter squashes, sweet potatoes, yams, or carrots

Yield: three pounds (three large loaves) of dough

Sponge:
¾ cup whole milk at room temp.
¾ oz. fresh yeast (or 2 ½ t. active dry yeast)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup flour (bread or AP)

Combine milk and yeast in a mixer bowl with the paddle attached until yeast is dissolved. Let mixture stand for five minutes, then stir in the puree, sugar and flour to form a thick batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 30-45 minutes or until bubbles form.

Dough:
5 cups flour (bread or AP)
2 t. salt
6 eggs, lightly beaten
½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1. Add flour and salt to the sponge, then add the eggs. Mix on low for two minutes or until eggs are fully absorbed. Increase to medium and knead for five minutes (the dough will begin to slap around—hold the bowl in place if necessary). Gina's note: I had to switch to a dough hook for this!
2. On medium-low speed, add butter, two tablespoons at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape it down occasionally. Knead until dough is shiny and smooth, about five minutes. Scrape out the dough, wash and dry the mixer bowl, and then coat it lightly with oil.
3. Place dough in the bowl and turn to coat in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about two hours.
4. Press down to deflate, folding one half of the dough over the other. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight. (This is the second rise.)
5. Spray three 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
6. Remove dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into thirds (covering two of the pieces while working with the third). Dust the top of the loaf lightly with flour. Roll into a rectangle equal to the length of the pan and double the width. Starting from the short side, roll up like a jelly roll and pinch the seam closed. Place seam side down in the pan and work gently with fingers until dough touches all sides of the pan (it should fill it halfway). Repeat with the other two loaves.
7. Cover with plastic wrap coated with nonstick spray and let rise at room temperature until doubled and pans are completely filled, about 1 ½- 2 hours.
8. Preheat oven to 400F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Brush loaves with an egg wash of one egg plus one yolk, lightly beaten.

Baking:
1. Bake for ten minutes, then turn the oven down to 350F and bake for 30 minutes or more (until they have a dark, golden crust and an internal temperature of 180 degrees and make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom).
2. Remove from pans immediately and cool before serving.

*For rolls, make 2 oz. (golf ball-sized) pieces, and roll into smooth, tight balls. Proof in a pan with sprayed, paper-lined cups. Egg wash the rolls and then cut a cross on top with scissors. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your brioche looks wonderful! I think I will give it a try. I made a batch last weekend and was not impressed with that recipe. Thanks for sharing the recipe (and typing). -Jill-

JoyBugaloo said...

Hi, Jill! Thanks for posting. The basic brioche is good, but I HIGHLY recommmend the pumpkin (or I enjoy sweet potato) variation. It is the BEST thing in the world!

Whatever you choose to make, please let me know how it turns out!
--Gina