"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.