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Adventures with brioche

April 7, 2009

For those of you who have ne’er wandered past your supermarket aisles for a loaf of bread (this was pretty much me a year ago…I know, shocking), brioche is a kind of bread – a bit confused perhaps, as it can taste like a muffin. Basically, it’s bread with extra butter, plus eggs and usually honey. Yes, that does make it delicious. Despite how much glee it would bring me to know that students made brioche, I have to warn that it is not the sort of thing you should attempt if you want to do much else the next few hours. However, like much baking, playing around with brioche is incredibly fun (not to mention rewarding on the tastebuds), and you’ll almost certainly be brought back to better times, where all you had to worry about was your play dough set being eaten by your siblings or what your Action Man would be battling next. brioche-4Brioche is the base, and from there…your imagination is the limit. Braid it, turn it into scrolls, a roll filled with surprise fillings, or even just make the traditional Brioche à tête. I made up a batch of chocolate ganache and some cinnamon and sugar to create scroll shapes, surprise rolls, a scroll cluster, and chocolate croissant shapes. The great thing is you can freeze your shaped dough on a tray in the freezer, then transfer to a container once frozen, and you’ll have treats that you can pull out without most of the effort normally involved.

brioche-3If you get them right, the whole process can give you guaranteed warm fuzzies. This is going to be a process, so roll your sleeves up!

Thanks to the wonderful partnership that resulted in the wonderful book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, this version of Brioche yields great results with a bit less hassle. I’ve added some of my own notes from making Brioche various times, and given the half recipe (which should be more than enough for most to get started with). Normally I encourage being creative with altering the basic dough recipes of breads, but don’t try to use margarine instead of butter or anything similarly crazy – you just won’t get the same results.

Basic brioche dough
makes about 1kg of dough – easily doubled, just use a massive bowl, or divide the dough into two bowls.

This dough isn’t very sweet, so fillings, toppings or spreads can be generously used!

3/4 c warm water (around 40C or 105F)
3/4 Tbs instant dried yeast
1/2 Tbs rock salt (or 1/3 Tbs fine sea salt)
4 eggs, lightly beaten (use room temp eggs)
1/4 c honey (to measure, dip measuring cup in butter before pouring honey in to prevent half the honey sticking), preferably liquid honey or something runny.
170g butter, melted
3 3/4c plain flour

Whisk everything but the flour together in a large bowl, until slightly frothy. Add flour, and stir, to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients into a soft, wet dough. It may be a little lumpy, and that’s fine, but make sure there are no floury bits. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag or tea towel, and allow to rise at room temperature (21C) for about 2-5 hours (2 hours absolute minimum). Once it has doubled in size, it is ready to shape.

Lightly flour a chopping board or your working surface (straight on the benchtop for example), and your puffed up brioche dough. Now it depends what you want to do with it. I’ve given a few examples below, the instructions of which you’d want to insert at this stage. Then, you can proceed with the instructions in the next paragraph. Relax, I’m making it sounds far more complicated than it actually is.

Ok, so now you’ve shaped your dough. Let it rest at room temp (21C) for about an hour and a half, or until the shapes have puffed up a bit (maybe 1.5 or 2 times their original size). Preheat your oven to 180C (350F), with a rack arranged on the very top (unless otherwise specified in the ideas section below). Do not bake anything below it, or place anything below it that could obstruct the heat fom the bottom of the oven, unless you want to complicate things! Once your oven has reached 180C or 350F (the oven light should turn off, otherwise just wait 5 mins), pop your tray or loaf in, and let cook for the specified amount of time. Once taken out, let the brioche cool on the tray/in the tin for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. This is quite important – if you don’t use a cooling rack you may get soggy bits, which is not nice.

Brioche is best eaten slightly warm on the same day you made it (preferably in the next few hours!). If eating the next day, warm in the oven for about 5 minutes (from cold oven) at 100C or microwave for 10 seconds. Otherwise you can always freeze cooked brioche, and once defrosted, follow the previous rule of reheating. Enjoy!

Brioche shape ideas (check next section for filling ideas)

Small scrolls (makes 8-12)
brioche-6
Grab a piece of lightly flour dusted brioche dough (about the size of a 2″ wide ball). Bring the dough together by stretching the surface and tucking it into itself, and form a smooth ball with a bunch of ends at the bottom. Roll out to a square-ish shape about 2-3mm thick, lightly flouring as you go to prevent severe sticking to the rolling pin or working surface. Spread lightly with your filling to the very edges for 3 edges, then roll up, and pinch together the seam (the edge the filling is not spread to) to form a log. Using a large, sharp knife, cut across the log at 2cm intervals (try to just press the blade down into the dough, rather than sawing. The dough will flatten but you’ll be able to re-shope it back to a circle). Pick each scroll off and re-shape to a circle, then place on a lightly greased baking tray or in a lightly greased muffin tray. Place at least an inch apart (unless you’re doing a cluster, pictured below).
Cooking time: 15 minutes at 180C or 350F, top rack.
brioche-1

Surprise stuffed rolls/muffins (makes 6)
Grab a piece of lightly flour dusted brioche dough (about the size of a 2″ wide ball). Bring the dough together by stretching the surface and tucking it into itself, and form a smooth ball with a bunch of ends at the bottom. Pull the ball in half, then pull each dough half into thirds to create 6 small rounds. Flatten the round with your palm, dot the centre of the round with about half a teaspoon of filling, then bring the edges up together to a single point, pinching the edges together and sealing. You can roll these in a mixture of cinnamon and raw/white sugar to give them extra sweetness if you wish. Pop them onto a lightly greased oven tray or muffin tray.
Cooking time: 15 minutes at 180C or 350F, top rack.

brioche-2Brioche loaf – makes one 9x4x3 sized pan loaf
This may require the full amount of dough if you want a decently sized loaf, but if you want a smaller loaf, you can use 3/4 or 2/3 of the dough the above recipe makes. Grab out the desired amount of flour dusted brioche dough, and bring the dough together by stretching the surface and tucking it into itself, forming a smooth ball with a bunch of ends at the bottom. Elongate into an oval shape (long enough to fit your loaf pan), and drop into your lightly greased non stick loaf pan. You may roll the log in some cinnamon and sugar before this step if you wish, but then don’t use the egg wash. Otherwise, coat with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water)
Cooking Time: an hour and up to an hour and half, until the top is deeply browned, at 180C or 350F (you can turn it down to 150C later if the outside is browned but the inside is still not fully cooked – to test if fully cooked, press down in the center, and if it is cooked, it should spring back easily). Bake one rack below the top shelf.

Brioche plait – to whatever size you like.
Grab out the desired amount of flour dusted brioche dough, and bring the dough together by stretching the surface and tucking it into itself, forming a smooth ball with a bunch of ends at the bottom. Divide the dough into thirds, and elongate each third to a rope about 2cm wide. If you want you can roll each rope in cinnamon and sugar before plaiting. Pinch the top of the three ropes together, and start braiding. Pinch together at the bottom, and tuck both ends under the braid. Move to a lightly greased tray, and brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water) if cinnamon sugar was not used.
Cooking Time: depends on the size of your braid – bake at 180C or 350F (you can turn it down to 150C later if the outside is browned but the inside is still not fully cooked – to test if fully cooked, press down in the center, and if it is cooked, it should spring back easily).

Brioche knots – makes six
Grab a piece of lightly flour dusted brioche dough (about the size of a 2″ wide ball). Bring the dough together by stretching the surface and tucking it into itself, and form a smooth ball with a bunch of ends at the bottom. Pull the ball in half, then pull each dough half into thirds to create 6 small rounds. Roll out each round to a 2cm thick sausage shape, and tie in a knot, arranging how you want on a lightly greased oven tray. You can roll the ropes in a mixture of cinnamon and raw/white sugar to give them extra sweetness if you wish. Otherwise it would be best to brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water).
Cooking time: 15 minutes at 180C or 350F, top rack.

Brioche croissants/rugelach – makes 8
Grab a piece of lightly flour dusted brioche dough (about the size of a 2″ wide ball). Bring the dough together by stretching the surface and tucking it into itself, and form a smooth ball with a bunch of ends at the bottom. Roll the ball out into a circle 2-3mm thick. Spread lightly with filling to within 1cm of the edge of the circle. Cut into 8 wedges. For each wedge, roll up (from the outer edge inwards to the pointy end), tucking the pointy end just under. Curve the two ends around to make a croissant shape.
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes at 180C or 350F, top rack.

brioche-5
FILLINGS!

Oh, goodness. The possibilities!

Cinnamon and brown, raw or white sugar (pictured above)
Mixed spices (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger) and brown sugar
Dried fruits: Sultanas, chopped dates, chopped dried apricots or peaches, dried cranberries
Chocolate ganache (melt equal amounts cream and dark chocolate eg, 100g choc to 100ml cream, on a low heat in a small saucepan. Taste the ganache before using and add appropriate amounts of sugar or honey to sweeten if you want)
Lemon zest and sugar (just use coarse grained sugar)
Lemon zest and honey
Orange zest and sugar (just use coarse grained sugar)
Vanilla bean seeds and white chocolate ganache (melt equal amounts cream and white chocolate eg, 100g choc to 100ml cream, on a low heat in a small saucepan. Then add vanilla bean seeds scraped from the pod with a small sharp knife)
Caramel or dulce de leche
Raspberry or other sorts of jam
Chopped roasted hazelnuts/almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon, or with maple syrup
Nutella (omg, I sooo did not just suggest that :P)
Maple syrup and cinnamon
Golden syrup and roast sesame or poppy seeds

Remember you can always drizzle leftover filling over your brioche or spread it on slices too, so you never need to throw out leftovers! After 2 days, your brioche will be best eaten as french toast or in a bread pudding (you can do this with rolls as well, just cut them in half first…delicious!).

Comment with your favourite, or your own ideas…go on!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Clare permalink
    April 7, 2009 10:22 pm

    nom nom nom!!

  2. April 8, 2009 1:03 pm

    Wow! I’ve seen 22 words (theblog) but this is the first time ive seen the micro blog template used on a food blog!

    This is a very cool/slick/superb site! Stumbled into your blog on foodgawker.

  3. July 14, 2009 10:22 pm

    wow….was googling on’ways to shape my sticky brioche dugh’ and I landed up here and boy ain’t I lucky :)

    great place n fab recipes. :)

    • July 15, 2009 12:00 pm

      Aw, damn I could use some brioche right now! :P

  4. March 4, 2013 10:08 pm

    Ive had two batched of vegan brioche dough sitting in the fridge over night, this looks like a lovely way to use one lotta dough!

Trackbacks

  1. Maple walnut brioche, sans kitchenaid or wrist detachments. « Two Spoons

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