a home cook with notions & an appetite
I’ve made the ad hoc brioche a few times and it’s actually very easy. What with all the eggs and butter, it’s nearly impossible to end up with anything but a moist and flaky loaf of bread that practically butters itself. I think I would have needed to have gone out of my way to sabotage the recipe by baking it an extra three days and adding crushed sardines and gummy bears to the dough to really mess it up.
As with many a bread recipe, this starts with yeast. I mix it in warm water and let it stand for 10 minutes. After that, I stir until everything is nicely dissolved:
I am getting ahead of myself. I have gathered my ingredients and butter has been sitting out on the counter so it can get to room temperature. Here’s what I’ve gathered:
You’ve already seen the yeast and water doing their thing (I am not using quick-acting in this loaf).
The mix of cake and all purpose flour ensures enough gluten for the bread to become actual bread while the cake flour gives brioche that almost-crispy-cake-like texture. I wouldn’t skimp on buying cake flour at all for the brioche.
The first part of mixing involves incorporating the eggs into the dry ingredients. If you count the yolks, you’ll only notice five, but this is due to the whole jumbo vs. large egg issue that was previously encountered in the popover incident. Bottom line, 5 jumbo eggs covers 6 large eggs. This is ten minutes of mixing at low speed (2 on my KitchenAid), with a break at the five minute mark to scrape down the sides and stir up any trapped flour on the bottom of the bowl to ensure that everything is truly incorporated.
Yes, the mixture is fairly loose. But it’s all okay. I’m about to put ten ounces of butter into this mixture. I did this in three batches at low speed and scraped down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. After each addition, I only mixed the butter in for about a minute, but then I mixed everything for a solid ten (again, loose dough, but it’s okay):
What’s missing at this point are the initial rise photos of my loose dough in a floured bowl rising until it’s doubled. Yes, three hours of exciting yeast action not captured on film. Nor was my initial kneading of the dough which led to an overnight rest in the refrigeration (covered with plastic wrap). I can tell you that this kneading is done on a generously floured work surface that brings the loose dough into a stiffer (but not too stiff!) form. Basically, I am very stingy with what I add so that I don’t end up with an over-floured mass of stiffness.
Yes, brioche takes me two days. But it is absolutely worth it.
The next morning, I butter and flour my Pullman Loaf pan. This is my extra-large loaf pan (16 inches long) that can handle the entire amount of dough I’ll have to bake. If I didn’t have this pan, I would have used two regular loaf pans instead.
I do take my refrigerated dough out of the bowl, flour my hands and board and shape this into a loaf:
More rising ahead. After putting my loaf in the pan, I let it rise, uncovered, for three hours. It’s supposed to be 1/2 an inch above the pan, but this is a pretty high pan and more than enough of a rise considering how flat my loaf was to start:
Into a preheated 350° oven my loaf goes. as you might notice, the oven spring on brioche is on the high and awesome end of the scale. For my larger loaf pan, this took 50 minutes. After a quick 10 minute cool down, I was able to slice and enjoy my bread. My loaf of buttery goodness, that is.