Oh my brioche!

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I’ve learnt something about myself in the last year that has taken me a really long time to come to terms with and admit about myself….

Hello, my name is Jules….and I’m clumsy.

I’m not sure why I’ve denied this for so long and even deluded myself to ever thinking that I was coordinated but I’m not.  If there’s a glass to be broken, I’ll break it.  If there’s something to be spilled, I’ll put my hand up for the job (and in the process knock the glass over) and if there’s an object in the way, I’ll walk straight into it.  I think a big part of it is that I just try to do things way too quickly, quite clearly quicker than my brain can connect to my limbs.

 

There’s a story that the Dr told me once about a good friend of his that has stuck in my mind.  Way back when the Dr and I started seeing each other, he told me about this story about his friend who had just started seeing a girl.  On a date one night they were crossing the road (completely sober) and out of nowhere this poor girl just went down in a heap, like a tonne of bricks; nothing to trip over, just fell over nothing.  The Dr and his friend agreed that this clumsy little misfortune was a turn-off and that little romance was short-lived.

My reaction to this story when I heard it was to feign shock and to hide what I was really thinking…but it’s time.

Dr…I have something to tell you…

I have tripped over nothing, my own pants, my own feet more times that I could really want to admit.  Unfortunately for you, we’re married so you’re stuck with my clumsy self.  At least  I’ll be able to seduce with my brioche and other delectable baked goods I’ve made this week.

Why am I telling this story?  As usually I was trying to do things way too quickly while baking this brioche.  I forgot that only egg yolks were meant to be used not the whole egg so wasted a whole bunch of eggs.  I knocked over the bowl of flour while trying to reach for the yeast.  I’m fairly sure more ingredients ended up on the floor than in the brioche dough.  However, I’m happy to say that the outcome and wasted ingredients was absolutely worth it.  This brioche courtesy of Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery cookbook was buttery but light, that perfect consistency between a bread and a sponge, and it filled the house with the most AMAZING aroma.  This week I’m going to share with you four different recipes you can make from this brioche.  It may take a while to make but what you can make out of it, will blow your taste buds.

Basic brioche recipe

Adapted from Flour Bakery cookbook by Joanne Chang

Makes 2 brioche loaves or 1 brioche loaf and another item from this week.

What you need:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour (strong gluten flour)
  • 3 1/2 tsp dried yeast/28g fresh yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 6 eggs (5 eggs for the dough, 1 egg to brush the loaves with)
  • 310g unsalted butter and room temperature, cut into small pieces

Note: don’t halve the recipe as there won’t be enough dough to engage the dough hook in your stand mixer.  Don’t worry about having too much as any of the items made with this dough freeze well.

What to do:

In a stand electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water and 5 of the eggs.  Mix for about 3-4 minutes on a low speed until the ingredients are incorporated.  If you need to, stop the mixer to scrape the sides to ensure that all the ingredients get mixed in thoroughly.  Once it has all come together mix for another 3-4 minutes on low speed.

Continue the mixer on low speed, add the chunks of butter one at a time, only adding the next piece once the last one has been fully mixed into the dough.  Once the butter is thoroughly mixed, turn the speed to medium and beat for another 10-15 mins.  If you have a domestic stand mixer like a kitchenaid (like me), just stay close to ensure that the motor doesn’t overheat.  I stopped mine every now and then to scrape the sides of the bowl and give the mixer a rest as it was getting quite hot.  You will know the dough is ready when it becomes quite shiny and it is sticky and soft.  Once at this stage, turn the speed of the mixer to high and beat for another 1 minute.  You should hear the dough making a slapping sound against the bowl

To test the dough for readiness, pull at it and if it stretches and gives a little then it’s ready. If it seems quite wet and loose, add a few tbsp of flour and continue to mix until you get the right consistency.  If the dough breaks off then the gluten hasn’t been worked enough and you need to beat the dough for another few minutes.

Once the dough is ready, put it in a large bowl and cover it with cling film, pressing the wrap directly against the dough.  Put the bowl in the fridge and let it proof for 6 hours or overnight.  If you want, you can freeze the dough in an airtight container at this point.

The dough is now ready to either make brioche loaves or other brioche deliciousness.

If you are going to continue to make the brioche loaf, split the dough in two and line the bottom and sides (or butter generously) with baking paper of two 9 x 5 inch loaf tins.

Push each piece of dough into a 9 inch square.  The dough should be quite easy to work with and feel like clammy play dough.  Once you have your square, fold the top third into the middle and the bottom third up, like a letter.  Turn the dough over so the seam is on the bottom.  Place the dough in the loaf tin and then do the same with the other piece.

Cover the loaf tins with cling wrap and leave to proof in a warm place for 4 to 5 hours or until they’ve doubled in size.  It will be ready once it ha reached the rim of the pan and when you touch it , it feels really soft and pillowy.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F

Whisk the last egg and brush the top of the loaves with it.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 25-35 mins, until the tops and sides of the loaves look golden brown.  Cool in the tins on wire racks for 30 mins and then turn out and leave to completely cool on the wire rack.

You can freeze the loaves for up to 1 month or it will keep fresh tightly wrapped in cling film and in an air-tight container for about 3 days.  After this, you’ll find that the brioche is better toasted or for making french toast/pain perdu – come back Wednesday for this recipe!

 

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