Sunday, June 7, 2009

Brioche (BBA Challenge)

"Let them eat brioche!", Marie Antoinette (her last words correctly translated)

Another winner... Brioche!

This week's bread for the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge was Brioche. A rich bread baked in a variety of ways, using eggs and butter to achieve the delicious flavor and beautiful color. In The BBA, we were given a choice of three formulas to make Brioche: Rich Man's Brioche with 5 large eggs and an entire pound of butter, Middle Class Brioche with 5 eggs and 1/2 a pound of butter or Poor Man's Brioche, containing 4 large eggs and 1/4 pound of butter. Most of the formulas I have used for Brioche in the past have had more eggs and less butter than the Rich Man's or Middle Class Versions that Mr. Reinhart's formulas. The theme of my kitchen is "Indulge", I even have that word hanging over a dining room window. And so, of course, my first BBA Brioche choice was The Rich Man's Version using 80% butter to 100% flour ratio, about the same as pie crust, this is crumbly not flaky. Next, I decided to make one loaf with a filling of deep dark chocolate ganache and then to make some mini Brioches a Tete using the famous fluted French Pans. Lastly I opted for some hamburger buns, something I often make from brioche dough as it is not only great in flavor, it holds up to a juicy burger in a way that regular buns just don't.

The recipe starts with a sponge and for the Rich Man's version, that sponge of flour, yeast and whole milk (I did not have any, so I used half and half) rests for just about 20 minutes. I did notice that in other versions he suggests a resting time of 30-45 minutes.

Then the dough is made by adding eggs (I get the most beautiful eggs from my friend Liz, a story yet to come) to the sponge until smooth. From there the dry ingredients are mixed and then blended into the egg & sponge mixture.

Because this dough uses so much butter, it requires far less liquid than most formulas for Brioche that I have used. After all is mixed well, it is time for a rest so that the gluten in the flour has a chance to develop. Then, slowly, stick by stick, the butter is incorporated into the dough. This is a bit challenging and takes some patience and a few "scrape downs" with a spatula. I never switched to the dough hook as I usually do because this dough is quite different, very smooth and soft.

Reinhart then suggests that you form a 6 X 8" rectangle of dough and place it on greased parchment paper on a sheet pan and after covering with plastic, placing it in the refrigerator over night. He obviously has never seen my refrigerator. Getting a sheet pan in there would take some massive excavating skills. I used Big Blue (my bread bowl) instead.

This chilling process is extremely important, especially when using so much butter, it is the only way to make this dough firm enough to handle, but there are other reasons for the slow rise.

The Ganache Loaf was rolled gently into a rectangle and then a simple ganache made of 70% cacao that I made myself at Tom Sharkey's Cacao Plantation a few miles North of my house was spread on the rectangle, then the rectangle was rolled up and placed into a loaf pan. This was a sublimely delicious way to use the Brioche Dough and I took it to a Slow Food Hawaii function this weekend where it was gobbled up.

The ganache loaf with a topping of ganache and raw sugar granules. The ganache is not a sweet chocolate, it is a rich dark chocolate, so the sugar granules added a touch of sweetness.

And here are the mini tete, which were both delicate and delicious!

Here is an example of the crumb in the mini tete brioche:

I would love to encourage you to try a Brioche from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I think that the Middle Class Brioche is probably a good one to start with. The butter ratio in the Rich Man's version is really something that is challenging to shape and the formulas with the lesser amounts of butter are really satisfying for most applications. That is surely what I would suggest for the hamburger buns. My Rich Man's Hamburger buns sort of melted more than rising as they usually do in formulas with less butter. There is always a learning curve and trying new formulas makes it especially challenging and fun.


Anonymous said...

That brioche with the chocolate ganache looks out of this world! What a great idea! Your brioche a tete are very well-formed, also.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Love you ganache brioche! Just beautiful. Great job

Devany said...

Suzanne and Judy, The Ganache Brioche Loaf was a winner. However the hamburger buns melted.. too much butter. Thanks for commenting! Your blogs are great too.

susies1955 said...

YUMMY. Looks awesome.
Your photos are out of this world.
Great baking along with you,

Devany said...

Susie, I enjoy baking along with you too!

Thanks for the comments on the photos. I am itching for a new camera.

peteeatemall said...

Mmm Chocolate and Butter! Two of my favorite things always your pics are beautiful...I think I will make ganache filled brioche next...Thanks for sharing!
Jenn @ Pete Eatemall

Devany said...


Yes, chocolate and butter go ever so nicely together! Go for it.

Jeff said...

I love the chocolate ganache idea! Brilliant execution.

Most people seemed to do the indulge route and go with the rich man. I took the same route and granted mine does not look as awesome as yours it still tasted out of this world.

Coconut Girl Connie said...

What a wonderful post great pictures, now I'm hungry! Thanks also for the shout out about Tom and our Hawaiian Chocolate...people look at me like I am out of my mind when I tell them we grow cacao here..oh well.

misterrios said...

That ganache is killer, you wouldn't happen to have the recipe lying around, would you?

Devany said...


Ganache is so easy.

In a small pan heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of rum till lightly boiling.

In a medium bowl add 4ounces of very good dark chocolate (bittersweet/70% cacao) that has been rough chopped.

Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for about 30 seconds then gently stir with a rubber spatula.

Because I needed some for the top of the loaf, I used half for the filling and then put the bowl in a hot water bath to keep the ganache smooth and velvety. Stir occasionally.

Devany said...

Hey Connie, I will be doing a story on Tom's class soon. It was a blast. He offers it 3-4 X a year when he is harvesting pods. Plus, if you take the class, you get as many cacao trees as you would like! We do live in paradise don't we???