Saturday, June 6, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake - Brioche

“Let them eat cake”, the phrase that was so famously said by Marie Antoinette.  Except, she didn’t.  The phrase was mistranslated and should have read “let them eat brioche.”  Of course, contemporary thinking suggests that she didn’t even utter this either.

Brioche is a rich buttery and egg laden bread.  The crust of the bread is very flaky, while the crumb of the bread is extremely tender.

Again, for this recipe I’ve turned to my favorite bread book: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.  In the book he presents three different recipes with varying amounts of butter.  I’ve always chosen to make the Rich Man’s Brioche, because as I see it, if you are going to make Brioche, you should make it the richest possible.  To that end, I’ve made some substitutions to the recipe presented in the book.  I’ve replaced the normal butter with my favorite butter: Plugra.  Also, I’ve replaced the whole milk with buttermilk.  The recipe provided in the book is excellent, but I think these two substitutions provide a better richer taste.

mise en place

Once again, here is my mise en place

Flour and yeast

Getting ready to make the sponge, flour and yeast get mixed.

Heated buttermilk

I heated the buttermilk in the microwave, but turns out I got it too hot, so here it is in a water bath, cooling down.  It needs to be between 90 & 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The sponge

The sponge gets mixed and then set aside for 20 minutes, as the other ingredients get prepared.

Dry ingredients

Here’s the remaining dry ingredients: flour, sugar, and some salt.

Five eggs

Five eggs get cracked and then lightly whisked.

Plugra butter

Here’s the pound of Plugra cut into manageable slices.

The finished sponge

After 20 minute, the sponge is bubbly and ready for mixing.

The sponge and eggs

The eggs get mixed into the sponge.

All but the butter

Then the remaining dry ingredients are mixed in.  This gets mixed for a few minutes to help the gluten develop before the butter gets mixed in.

Mixing in the butter

Here’s the first round of butter getting mixed in.  The butter needs to be mixed in bit by bit.

The dough's all mixed

Here’s the dough after all the butter has been mixed in.

Laying out the dough to refrigerate

The dough gets placed on a oiled parchment paper, then covered with plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator overnight.

Close up of the dough

Here’s a close up view of what the dough should look like before going into the fridge.

Shaped brioche

And here we’ve skipped a few steps.  The dough came out of the fridge, was shaped into a ball, then into a brioche à tête.  The recipe makes two loaves, but since I only have one brioche pan, the other loaf got shaped into a normal bread loaf.

Finished brioche

Here’s the brioche after baking.  The crust should be shinier and flakier but I forgot to give the loaf an egg wash prior to baking.

Close up of the brioche's crust

Here’s a close up of the crust of the finished brioche.

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