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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Many Faces of Brioche

Brioche dough is very versatile. Yes, you can make bread out of it. Yes, I made bread out of it. I also made some rum raisin and pastry cream snails out of it. Mmmmmmm. You could use the dough for sticky buns, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, doughnuts or other sweets. This dough also lends itself well to savory fillings, spinach and feta filled brioche is quite delicious. Going for complete full fat and adding different kinds of shredded cheese near the end of kneading makes for a lovely flavor change (smoked cheeses are especially good). The finished bread is good for, well, eating. The bread also makes wonderful bread pudding and lovely french toast. Anyway you slice it(bad pun intended....sorry) brioche is fabulous stuff!

The pastry cream recipe is the quarter sized version from Bo Friberg's The Professional Pastry Chef.

Pastry Cream:

2 cups milk
1/2 (or more if you like)tsp vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (I used the paste, because I love it and I had it on hand)*
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
*you could also use different flavoring such as grand marnier, rum, espresso powder, whatever suits your taste*
-Place milk and vanilla in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.
-While the milk is coming to a boil, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Slowly add the eggs to the cornstarch mixture.
-Once the milk has come to a boil, slowly whisk a cup of hot milk into the egg/sugar mixture to temper the eggs. Whisk the tempered egg mixture into the remaining milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken. Allow to bubble for about a minute or 2 to cook off the starchy taste.
-Scrape the pastry cream into a shallow bowl or onto a sheet pan. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
-Chill until needed. (this will keep for up to 4 days, but it is not recommended to make it that far in advance)

I soaked about a cup of raisins in about 1/2 cup of rum overnight.

Brioche Dough: (this recipe does not use a sponge as many others do)

1 pound 1 3/4 ounces high gluten or bread flour
3/4 ounce active dry yeast
1 3/4 ounces sugar
1/2 ounce salt
2 ounces milk
6 eggs
10 3/4 ounces butter
-Place the milk, eggs and yeast in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook attachment. Mix to blend and let sit for about 5 minutes.
-Add everything BUT the butter and mix on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
-Add the butter a few pats at a time, waiting until one batch is incorporated before adding more butter. Mix until all the butter is in the dough and the dough is silky and smooth and soft.
-Turn the dough out onto a buttered sheetpan, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill overnight (this allows the dough to ferment slowly and become much easier to handle.

For Loaves:

-Preheat oven to 350f
-The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 8 ounce sections, shape each one into a ball. Place 2 balls per pan (I used 3x8" aluminum pans) cover with plastic wrap and let proof for an hour and a half or until the dough has just about doubled in size.
-Remove the plastic wrap and gently brush the loaves with an eggwash made of one egg and 1 Tbsp milk beaten together.
-Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the loaves are a deep golden brown (may take more or less time depending on your oven)
-Cool and enjoy :D

The snails are based somewhat loosely on a snail I learned years ago when I had the priviledge to take a three day course at the French Pastry School in Chicago. The course was with Pierre Zimmerman covering fabulous breakfast doughs and pastries. I believe we used a pate levee, which is similar to the brioche dough.
For Rum Raisin Pastry Cream Snails (I need to figure out a better name for these things):

-Preheat oven to 350f
-Roll the brioche dough out into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and spread with the pastry cream leaving a one inch border on one side to seal the roll with.
-Sprinkle raisins over the top of the pastry cream and press in gently.
-Roll up the dough as if for cinnamon rolls sealing the bottom by pinching it shut.
-Cut the roll into 1 1/2 inch thick rolls and place on a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart.
-Cover with plastic and proof for about an hour.
-Uncover, brush with eggwash and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a nice deep golden brown.
-Cool on sheet pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack (the pastry cream has a tendancy to sink shortly after coming out of the oven...don't worry, they still taste great)

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Jennifer said...

I am so envious of your bread baking skills. I've really got to work more on mine.

Jen the bread freak said...

Awwww thank you :). I've been working with bread for a long time and really just love it! I think I'm more a bread baker than anything else. Just takes practice!

avital said...

Exactly!! Practice, patience and alot of kneading: evne though you're using a mixer, you should always finish to knead the dough by yourself, you just feel it.. very rich experience .. and sensual too!!
Your brioche is just perfect, jen.. no doubt it would be, this is a real brioche recipe: full of butter and eggs!! just one little thing: you should let the dough rise at room temperature for about an hour before you put in the fridge ovenight (of course, rise AND fold), this helps the dough to develop more aromas..

Jen the bread freak said...

Thank you for the wonderful compliment avital! Also thank you for the suggestions,next time I'll have to try letting the dough rise a bit before I retard it. :)

Sean said...

Well, if it helps for the name, where I work we make almost this same exact thing (only with the addition of orange zest, and we use a danish dough instead of brioche), and simply call it the Custard Rum Raisin.

Also, I've been cruising about this blog for a little while now and everything looks A+.