Take THAT, bagels!
Last week’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge was brioche. We had a choice of three classes (rich, middle, and poor) and I opted for middle because it used “only” 8 oz. of butter instead of the full pound required by the rich variation. Turns out, middle-class is plenty rich, and buttery, and delicious, and pretty easy to make.
I won’t show all the pictures here (you can see the whole set here), but here are the essential ingredients for brioche, aside from the flour.
Yep. Whole milk. Five eggs. And half a pound of butter. This bread is not for the fainthearted.
Like the past three breads, this one involved mixing up a sponge (flour, yeast, and milk), but it sat for only about 40 minutes before mixing up the dough.
I used the stand mixer to mix the dough because even the middle-class brioche mixes up as a very soft, buttery dough that is handled nicely by the mixer, but would be a real mess if I tried to tackle it by hand.
After it was mixed, I spread the dough onto a pan that was covered by greased parchment, and put it to bed in the refrigerator until the next morning.
The next day, the dough was thoroughly chilled and very nicely workable. The recipe made enough for two 1-pound loaves, so I formed one standard loaf, and used the other half of the dough to form three brioche à tête, the classic shape you’ve seen in pastry shops.
I had bought two medium sized molds for the recipe, and a friend surprised me with a tiny mold the other day (she was cleaning out her kitchen and I don’t think she even knew what it was for), so I used all three and that used the dough up perfectly.
I followed the instructions for shaping the brioche à tête, but now I know that I really have to define the two separate portions much better because they expanded a lot when they proofed and the shape of the “top-knot” was pretty much lost.
And the loaf makes incredible toast, topped with my favorite beach plum jam from Wellfleet, MA.
There is absolutely no doubt that I’d make this recipe again, and I’ll try the poor-man’s version as well. And the rich-man’s? I’ll save that for a very special occasion.
This week’s challenge is Casatiello, an Italian version of the brioche, with bits of salami and cheese. I’ll make that on Thursday, to serve six very hungry men who will have just returned from climbing Mount Washington in pretty nasty weather and who I think will appreciate the calories.