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Sobaicecream

Brioche by hand vs. mixer

31 posts in this topic

I baked brioche yesterday, using the recipe from Peter Reinhart's Crust & Crumb--which tells you to mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon for about 10 minutes. (I did watch the streaming video of Julia Child and Silverton making brioche, and recalled one of them saying that you definitely should use a mixer. Unfortunately I don't own a mixer, but really wanted to make brioche.)

I actually beat for 20 because the dough was *incredibly* stiff and was nowhere near smooth after 10 minutes of intense struggle. Then put the dough in the fridge overnight, as instructed.

When I pulled the dough out, it was the consistency of chilled cookie dough. Question one: does that sound right? I thought it was pretty soft, and found the dough began melting within seconds of being in my hands.

In some ways, the brioche came out surprisingly good: wonderful oven spring, unbelievably light and delicate.

Not so good was the way the baked brioche left the hands feeling greasy. Also, I will be quick to admit I'm not a brioche expert, but I was a bit surprised at how sponge-cakelike the brioche was. Is this correct? I was expecting a more satiny, elastic feel.

Were these problems probably due to the dough being mixed by hand?

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Brioche definitely can vary from one recipe to another. I know this might upset a few people but I found I wasn't crazy about Reinharts sweet dough's. They are decent, but I have sweet dough recipes from other sources I like much better.

It's hard to address if you did anything wrong without actually seeing what yours looked like or tasted like. It sounds like it all worked out fine, but perhaps you might want to test out other recipes for a brioche you like even more. They can range from very cake like to very bread like.........depending upon your recipe.

Personally, I don't have the strength or patience to mix this dough by hand. I normally mix it in a mixer for 15 to 20 minutes. You'd have to take this recipe and work it both by hand and in a mixer to see how your results varied. But since your butter didn't run out while baking I have to guess you did a good job hand mixing.

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They can range from very cake like to very bread like.........depending upon your recipe.

In "Cookwise", Shirley Corriher has an interesting discussion about the order of mixing together the ingredients when fats are added to bread doughs and gives two different brioche recipes to illustrate her point.

In the first recipe, the liquid ingredients are added to the flour and thoroughly mixed to develop the gluten before the butter is added -- resulting in a bread-like brioche.

In the second recipe, the flour is mixed with the butter first, then the liquids are added -- resulting in a very cake-like brioche because the butter coats the gluten-forming proteins in the flour and hinders the gluten development.

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Thanks Wendy!

They are decent, but I have sweet dough recipes from other sources I like much better.

Would it be possible for you to share your favorite brioche recipe?

I will be making some brioche for an upcoming New Year's Eve party and I usually make the bread-like one from "Cookwise" but it is a bit tempermental due to the amount of butter (1/2 cup butter per ~1 cup of flour) and I've been thinking about trying a different recipe.

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I like the one in 'Baking With Julia', the best (also the danish dough recipe is my favorite). I've even frozen the raw dough very successfully. Do you have that book?

I also really like all of Gisslens' sweet dough recipes in his book, 'Professional Baking'. His fillings are outstanding too.

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Thanks for the tip, mktye. If I ever try Reinhart's recipe again, I'll see if I can knead the dough before I add the butter, and maybe that will make a difference.

Would it be possible for you to share your favorite brioche recipe?

Yes, please!

By the way, Sinclair, out of curiosity, what exactly didn't you like about Reinhart's brioche recipe?


Edited by Sobaicecream (log)

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If you have The Cake Bible, try the recipe for brioche which is actually Paula Wolfert's. If you're lucky enough to have a copy of Paula's Cooking of Southwest France, it is in there as well (revised edition coming out in about a year). It is made in the food processor and uses melted butter! It is light, awesome and fabulously uncomplicated. If Paula catches this thread, perhaps she'll explain further on the development.


kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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I like the one in 'Baking With Julia', the best (also the danish dough recipe is my favorite). I've even frozen the raw dough very successfully. Do you have that book?

I have also had great luck with the dough from 'Baking with Julia', and find that it is quite forgiving (to me, not to my Kitchen Aid). I will have to try Gisslen's dough, and more importantly the fillings.


Edited by Sthitch (log)

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If you have The Cake Bible, try the recipe for brioche which is actually Paula Wolfert's.  If you're lucky enough to have a copy of Paula's Cooking of Southwest France, it is in there as well (revised edition coming out in about a year).  It is made in the food processor and uses melted butter!  It is light, awesome and fabulously uncomplicated.  If Paula catches this thread, perhaps she'll explain further on the development.

I definitely second the vote for Wolfert's recipe! I do not have a mixer at this point either and mixing the brioche by hand is difficult for me -- although I do all my other bread doughs by hand the brioche is different.

I haven't tried the one from the BBA yet . . . I love the rest of breads I've tried from him recently.


Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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THanks so much for your kind words on the brioche recipe.

Funny you should be writing about my brioche recipe. I had just emailed it to the webmeister this morning asking him to post this version on my site.

We had to cut out almost all the dough recipes from the Cooking of Southwest France in order to make room for new material. I plan to post all the 'ousted' recipes on my site in the coming months.

So here it is---

BRIOCHE DOUGH

I spent an entire autumn working up brioche recipes trying different methods, consulting with bakers and chefs, thinking and rethinking ways of achieving a perfect all purpose dough. I hate to think of how many pounds of butter I used, how many dozen eggs, how many packages of yeast, how much oven cleaner! The smell of yeast risen dough filled my New York apartment. Neighbors sniffed as they passed my door. My children rebelled and demanded "normal bread." But finally (and I say this with my characteristic modesty à la Henry Kissinger), I came up with something that I think is very special because of four unusual things. Actually, none of these things is that unusual in itself it's the combination that is unique.

1. The lightness and fluffiness of this brioche I attribute to an early nineteenth century method of initiating the first thrust of the yeast. In this method, known as "sponging," the yeast is mixed with milk, one quarter the total amount of flour, and an egg. This mixture is left to rise under a blanket of the remaining flour for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This stage may be considered as an extra long rise.

2. The trouble with a lot of brioche recipes is that they force the rising of the dough with too much yeast and end up sacrificing flavor. As a result, the brioche tastes too "yeasty." No matter how fluffy or buttery or light it is, it doesn't taste "natural." My solution is a long, slow rise using a small amount of yeast; this results in a superb natural flavor and a crumb with a better structure.

3. The buttery quality of brioche has traditionally been the result of a messy workout of the dough in which the butter was cut into the dough with a great deal of effort. If there was anything that turned off home cooks contemplating making their own brioche, it was the anticipation of this laborious task. Food processor to the rescue! We are now able to achieve perfect absorption of the butter with no manual effort and without any mess at all.

4. The classic technique of making brioche always entails the "knocking down" process (or, as the French say, "waking up"), a deflating and folding of the dough mass to redistribute the yeast cells. Too many recipes call for kneading at this stage, and I couldn't disagree more. It's very important that the redistribution be done gently, and you will find precise instructions in my master recipe. This is the key to the explosion of the dough into a light, spongy cake. Bakers tell me that you can do everything correctly up to this point but your brioche may fall short of perfection if you do not properly execute this stage.

MAKES 1 1/4 POUNDS DOUGH

oPrepare up to 3 days in advance

ACTIVE WORK: 15 minutes

UNATTENDED RISING TIME: 5 to 6 hours

3 tablespoons milk, scalded then cooled to warm

1 1/2 teaspoons (1/2 package) dry yeast, or 2 packed teaspoons fresh compressed yeast

8 ounces (about 1 2/3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour, a brand with 12 to 13 grams protein per cup, or substitute bread flour

3 eggs, at room temperature

3 or 4 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted but not hot

1. Making the sponge: Place milk and yeast in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process on and off to combine. Add 1/3 cup flour and 1 egg. Process 2 to 3 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Sprinkle remaining flour over the mixture; do not mix in. Cover and let stand 1 1/2 to 2 hours at room temperature in the workbowl. (If you need your workbowl, scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl and sprinkle the remaining flour on top.)

2. Kneading the dough: Add 3 tablespoons sugar (4 tablespoons if you are making a dessert), salt, and the 2 remaining eggs to the workbowl. Process 15 seconds. With the machine on, pour in the melted butter in a steady stream through the feed tube. Process 20 seconds longer. If the machine stalls (this happens when the butter is added too quickly), let the machine rest 3 minutes. Meanwhile check that the blade is not clogged.

3. First rise: Scrape the resulting "cream" into a lightly greased 3 quart bowl. Sprinkle the top lightly with flour to prevent a crust from forming. Cover airtight with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature about 5 hours in warm weather, 6 hours in cold weather, or until dough is light, spongy, and almost tripled in bulk. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes without deflating.

4. Deflating and redistributing the yeast cells: Using a plastic scraper, deflate the dough by stirring it down. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. With floured hands, gently press the dough into a rectangle, then gently fold into thirds. Dust with flour. Wrap well and refrigerate. Allow dough to harden and ripen overnight. Punch down once or twice if necessary. The dough will keep 3 days in the refrigerator if well wrapped and weighted down, or it can be frozen for 1 week. (Dough doesn't freeze well for longer than 1 week.) To defrost, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

c\Paula Wolfert

1979 Pleasures of Cooking (cuisinart magazine); 1983 Cooking of SouthWest France; 2004 website


Edited by Wolfert (log)
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“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Thanks everyone for the brioche recipe help!

I like the one in 'Baking With Julia', the best (also the danish dough recipe is my favorite). I've even frozen the raw dough very successfully. Do you have that book?

Yes. (And I've also tried that danish dough and was very happy with it.)
THanks so much for your kind words on the brioche recipe.

Thank you so very much for posting your recipe!!!

Hmm, now it looks like I'll have to make at least two batches of brioche! :laugh:

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The first brioche I ever made was by hand. It was the recipe from my roommate's Joy of Cooking, and it also used the technique of making a sponge with the yeast as a first step. The biggest thing was achieving the satiny-textured dough, which I was advised to do by means of slamming the dough hard onto a greased table. I did that for 45 minutes straight, before getting to the stage where the dough was silky and elastic. Good thing I was young and strong and stubborn...

The brioche turned out startlingly good, thanks I'm sure to the farm-fresh butter my roommate was getting from friends outside the city. However, it was such a pain to make that I've not done it since.

These days, the one I make most often is the quick-and-dirty sweet brioche we use at work (natch). It makes damned good cinnamon rolls and holiday breads, but at home I seldom need 20kg of sweet brioche. I've made both Gisslen's and Friberg's brioches at school, and the Gisslen is definitely the superior article. Friberg's recipe only comes in at about 20% butter by weight, which is only nominally brioche as far as I'm concerned. I plan to try his recipe again, someday, but with maybe 50% butter.

Paula's recipe looks good, too. I was toying with the notion of making brioche in my KitchenAid, at home, but now I think I'll use the Cuis instead (I've just inherited a 15-year-old DLC 10E from my night job).


Fat=flavor

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THanks so much for your kind words on the brioche recipe.

Funny you should be writing about my brioche recipe. I had just emailed it to the webmeister this morning asking him to post this version on my site.

We had to cut out almost all the dough recipes from the Cooking of Southwest France in order to make room for new material.  I plan to post all the 'ousted' recipes on my site in the coming months.

So here it is---

(snip)

c\Paula Wolfert

1979 Pleasures of Cooking (cuisinart magazine); 1983 Cooking of SouthWest France; 2004 website

Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I have been intending to try it for a sort of bread pudding I make using brioche dough, as an alternative to the very old recipe I have been using for many years. I use it in the following recipe which I developed from something mentioned in one of my great-grandmother's journals. She was travelling in France in the 1870s, as I recall and being very interested in foods, often described their meals in detail. She, like most Victorian ladies of that era in England, adored sweet breads, cakes and similar sweets.

I looked in vain for such a recipe in by collection of cookbooks and never found even a mention of anything similar.

Marzipan filled brioche bread pudding.

original recipe by Andie

Read all directions first. This recipe takes 2 days to do it correctly

Easy Brioche Rolls Must start day before serving this dessert.

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 pkg. dry yeast

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1 egg, separated

3 whole eggs, beaten

3 1/4 cup flour

Scald milk and while hot add butter (margarine), sugar, and salt.

COOL TO LUKEWARM.

Soften yeast in the water. Add to LUKEWARM milk mixture.

Add egg yolk and beaten eggs and stir.

Add flour and beat with wooden spoon for 2 minutes.

Cover and let rise in a warm place (80-85 degrees) until more

than double in bulk, about 2 hours or less.

Stir down and beat (stir) thoroughly.

Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from fridge and allow to come to room temp.

Take plain brioche dough and form into small buns (golf ball size works nicely), cover and let them rest for 10 minutes.

Filling

You can use store bought marzipan or make your own.

Make a rope of marzipan about the size of a tootsie roll and cut into pieces about the same width. (You don't have to shape them.)

Put one of the marzipan pieces on each bun, draw the dough up around it and pinch and twist to seal.

Place in a buttered pan with seam side down.

Cover and allow to rise about 30 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush tops of rolls with melted butter.

Place pan in center of oven.

Bake till nicely browned. Remove from oven and place on a wire grid.

When cool cover loosely with a cloth and let them set out several hours.

We want them to be just a little stale.

The next step which takes this into an entire new category

Egg custard

4 eggs + 2 egg yolks, beaten till creamy

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup sweet sherry (optional)

Mix all these ingredients and beat until completely blended

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Place the marzipan filled buns in a buttered baking dish sides touching.

Pour the custard in and around the buns but do not cover the tops of the buns.

Let this stand for a few minutes then add more of the custard mix as the rolls will have soaked up some.

Place the pan in a bain marie and bake until the custard is set.

(Time varies with the size of the baking dish and the amount of custard)

For a 9 x 11 pan it should be done in about 25 minutes. Test with a thin knife blade BETWEEN THE ROLLS at about 20 minutes, then at 25 minutes. Test every 2 minutes after that until blade comes out clean.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Paula, this recipe look so good it may inspire me to bake Brioche again. I love love love brioche, but my numerous attempt at any kind of bread making have been disasterous in the past. I will try it this weekend.


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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I learned alot about brioche making from Jean-Claude Szurdak, a New York- based French-born pastry chef. (Jacques Pepin writes and talks about him in his books and tv shows.)

Szurdak learned to make brioche at the age of fourteen when he apprenticed to an eighty-seven year-old master patissier who worked at an earlier time for Escoffier.

Szurdak described his method to me. All I did was adapt his detailed recipe to work in a cuisinart for the then (1979) popular food magazine, Pleasures of Cooking, edited by Barbara Kafka.

Here is more or less what I wrote at the time:

'Each afternoon the fourteen-year-old Jean-Claude and the man old enough to be his great-grandfather would go down to the cellar of the bakery (where it was quite cold) to prepare the yeast-flour-milk mixture for bricohe. While the levain was "working up,' they would beat together a mixture of flour, eggs, and butter until it became a smooth, light, elastic dough. They would then spread this dough out on work table, place the very soft levain in its center, and, with the help of a dough scraper and an intricate series of foldings, enclose it securely in the dough.

They then left the dough to rise in the cellar for al ong while, on the old man's theory that a long slow rise developed a better-structured crumb and a tastier brioche. The risen dough was then 'knocked down' and left overnight to ripen in the same cold cellar room. Finally, it was shaped and brought upstairs to the warm, humid baking room for its final rise before going to the oven. In the words of Jean-Claude, the dough then exploded into a light, spongy cake with all the attributes of a perfect brioche: a hairline crust, an even crumb, and a delicious, even egg and buttery flavor.


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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The first brioche I ever made was by hand.  It was the recipe from my roommate's Joy of Cooking, and it also used the technique of making a sponge with the yeast as a first step.  The biggest thing was achieving the satiny-textured dough, which I was advised to do by means of slamming the dough hard onto a greased table.  I did that for 45 minutes straight, before getting to the stage where the dough was silky and elastic.  Good thing I was young and strong and stubborn...

We also made brioche in school several times by hand. Our instructor insisted we do it by hand before using the machine so we would get a feel for how the dough changes consistency as it is kneaded and to know what to look for when it was time to add the butter. We were taught a special technique to the knead the very wet, sticky dough which sounds similar to what you did - though it usually only took about 15 minutes to reach "smooth elastisity". You grab two corners of the dough with your fingers and sort of fling it out onto the table, letting it stretch out and slap down. Then you flip the part you are still holding back over the rest of the dough (sort of folding it in half). Repeat by grabbing the side edge of the dough (effectively giving it a quarter turn) and flinging it out again. It gets a little messy when you add the softened butter, but it does come back to gether and get elastice once again after about 5 more mintutes of kneading.

These days, the one I make most often is the quick-and-dirty sweet brioche we use at work (natch).  It makes damned good cinnamon rolls and holiday breads, but at home I seldom need 20kg of sweet brioche.  I've made both Gisslen's and Friberg's brioches at school, and the Gisslen is definitely the superior article.  Friberg's recipe only comes in at about 20% butter by weight, which is only nominally brioche as far as I'm concerned.  I plan to try his recipe again, someday, but with maybe 50% butter.

It's worth noting that there are a couple different types of classic brioche: there is the regular "everyday" stuff which has less butter, and brioche mousseline, which has significantly more butter and is paradoxically lighter in texture and richer in flavor. Neither one is traditionally very sweet.

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We were taught a special technique to the knead the very wet, sticky dough which sounds similar to what you did - though it usually only took about 15 minutes to reach "smooth elastisity". You grab two corners of the dough with your fingers and sort of fling it out onto the table, letting it stretch out and slap down. Then you flip the part you are still holding back over the rest of the dough (sort of folding it in half). Repeat by grabbing the side edge of the dough (effectively giving it a quarter turn) and flinging it out again. It gets a little messy when you add the softened butter, but it does come back to gether and get elastice once again after about 5 more mintutes of kneading.

Unfortunately, I don't own either a mixer or a food processor, so I won't be able to try Wolfert's recipe either. :sad: This is sort of why I asked about making brioche by hand, specifically. Additionally, this recipe seems to produce a cake-like brioche, which I did achieve with Reinhart's recipe.

Nightscotsman, I'm interested in your version of kneading the dough first before adding the butter. Did this result in a more silky, elastic brioche (versus cakelike)? And would you happen to have a recipe you'd be willing to share? :smile:

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Here is what we used in class. This will create a more "bready" rather than "cakey" product:

50g milk (slightly warm)

16g fresh yeast

60g pastry flour

Make a poolish by mixing the yeast with milk, a pinch of sugar, and the yeast in a bowl and covering it with the flour. Let it sit until the expanding yeast causes visible cracks in the flour layer.

Add:

8g salt

40g sugar

340g bread flour

220g eggs

Mix by hand until as much of the flour as possible is incorporated, then dump it out on a table and knead using the technique I outlined above (this is another one of those pastry things that is much easier to show than to tell). You may need to dust with more flour occasionally to make it more managable

When the dough is smooth, elastic, and loses most of its stickiness, add 200g softened butter by smearing it over the dough and using the same kneading technique. Work until it becomes smooth again.

place the dough in a bowl, dust with flour, cover with plastic and let rise until double. Gently press out the gasses (be gentle, don't punch), and let it rest in the fridge overnight before shaping, rising, and baking at 375 F (for loaves).

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Thank you so much, nightscotsman. Once my arms have recovered from my previous brioche workout, :rolleyes: I'm definitely going to try your recipe.

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Brioche pre-dates mechanized mixing, so it stands to reason that it was mixed by hand for a number of years. With mechanized mixing, brioche (which Larousse refers to as a cake) most likely evolved just as breads did and now we have variations on the variations. So, yes, you can mix by hand as nightscotsman has stated, and once you understand hand mixing you are prepared to understand mechanical mixing. I agree with learning by hand first for more than just a few reasons. I have not found it necessary to preferment brioche due to the long overnight fermentation in the refrigerator. I have made it both ways with the same formula without much discernable difference.

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I learned alot about brioche making from Jean-Claude Szurdak, a New York- based French-born pastry chef. (Jacques Pepin writes and talks about him in his books and tv shows.)

Szurdak learned to make brioche at the age of fourteen when he apprenticed to an eighty-seven year-old master patissier who worked at an earlier time for Escoffier.

Szurdak described his method to me. All I did was adapt his detailed recipe to work in a cuisinart for the then (1979) popular food magazine, Pleasures of Cooking, edited by  Barbara Kafka.

Here is more or less what I wrote at the time:

'Each afternoon the fourteen-year-old Jean-Claude and the man old enough to be his great-grandfather would go down to the cellar of the bakery (where it was quite cold) to prepare the yeast-flour-milk mixture for bricohe. While the levain was "working up,' they would beat together a mixture of flour, eggs, and butter until it became a smooth, light, elastic dough. They would then spread this dough out on work table, place the very soft levain in its center, and, with the help of a dough scraper and an intricate series of foldings, enclose it securely in the dough.

They then left the dough to rise in the cellar for a long while, on the old man's theory that a long slow rise developed a better-structured crumb and a tastier  brioche. The risen dough was then 'knocked down' and left overnight to ripen in the  same cold cellar room. Finally, it was shaped and brought upstairs to the warm, humid baking room for its final rise before going to the oven. In the words of Jean-Claude, the dough then exploded into a light, spongy cake with all the attributes of a perfect brioche: a hairline crust, an even crumb, and a delicious, even egg and buttery flavor.

Paula, I love this! What a delightful story to have in mind while making brioche this week. Very kind of you to post your recipe and this fits in exactly.


Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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One warning: if you have a small bowl food processor, divide the dough in half before kneading. Some machines don't have the power to take on this recipe in one go.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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THanks so much for your kind words on the brioche recipe.

Funny you should be writing about my brioche recipe. I had just emailed it to the webmeister this morning asking him to post this version on my site.

We had to cut out almost all the dough recipes from the Cooking of Southwest France in order to make room for new material. I plan to post all the 'ousted' recipes on my site in the coming months.

So here it is---

BRIOCHE DOUGH

I spent an entire autumn working up brioche recipes trying different methods, consulting with bakers and chefs, thinking and rethinking ways of achieving a perfect all purpose dough. I hate to think of how many pounds of butter I used, how many dozen eggs, how many packages of yeast, how much oven cleaner! The smell of yeast risen dough filled my New York apartment. Neighbors sniffed as they passed my door. My children rebelled and demanded "normal bread." But finally (and I say this with my characteristic modesty à la Henry Kissinger), I came up with something that I think is very special because of four unusual things. Actually, none of these things is that unusual in itself it's the combination that is unique.

1. The lightness and fluffiness of this brioche I attribute to an early nineteenth century method of initiating the first thrust of the yeast. In this method, known as "sponging," the yeast is mixed with milk, one quarter the total amount of flour, and an egg. This mixture is left to rise under a blanket of the remaining flour for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This stage may be considered as an extra long rise.

2. The trouble with a lot of brioche recipes is that they force the rising of the dough with too much yeast and end up sacrificing flavor. As a result, the brioche tastes too "yeasty." No matter how fluffy or buttery or light it is, it doesn't taste "natural." My solution is a long, slow rise using a small amount of yeast; this results in a superb natural flavor and a crumb with a better structure.

3. The buttery quality of brioche has traditionally been the result of a messy workout of the dough in which the butter was cut into the dough with a great deal of effort. If there was anything that turned off home cooks contemplating making their own brioche, it was the anticipation of this laborious task. Food processor to the rescue! We are now able to achieve perfect absorption of the butter with no manual effort and without any mess at all.

4. The classic technique of making brioche always entails the "knocking down" process (or, as the French say, "waking up"), a deflating and folding of the dough mass to redistribute the yeast cells. Too many recipes call for kneading at this stage, and I couldn't disagree more. It's very important that the redistribution be done gently, and you will find precise instructions in my master recipe. This is the key to the explosion of the dough into a light, spongy cake. Bakers tell me that you can do everything correctly up to this point but your brioche may fall short of perfection if you do not properly execute this stage.

MAKES 1 1/4 POUNDS DOUGH

oPrepare up to 3 days in advance

ACTIVE WORK: 15 minutes

UNATTENDED RISING TIME: 5 to 6 hours

3 tablespoons milk, scalded then cooled to warm

1 1/2 teaspoons (1/2 package) dry yeast, or 2 packed teaspoons fresh compressed yeast

8 ounces (about 1 2/3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour, a brand with 12 to 13 grams protein per cup, or substitute bread flour

3 eggs, at room temperature

3 or 4 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted but not hot

1. Making the sponge: Place milk and yeast in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process on and off to combine. Add 1/3 cup flour and 1 egg. Process 2 to 3 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Sprinkle remaining flour over the mixture; do not mix in. Cover and let stand 1 1/2 to 2 hours at room temperature in the workbowl. (If you need your workbowl, scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl and sprinkle the remaining flour on top.)

2. Kneading the dough: Add 3 tablespoons sugar (4 tablespoons if you are making a dessert), salt, and the 2 remaining eggs to the workbowl. Process 15 seconds. With the machine on, pour in the melted butter in a steady stream through the feed tube. Process 20 seconds longer. If the machine stalls (this happens when the butter is added too quickly), let the machine rest 3 minutes. Meanwhile check that the blade is not clogged.

3. First rise: Scrape the resulting "cream" into a lightly greased 3 quart bowl. Sprinkle the top lightly with flour to prevent a crust from forming. Cover airtight with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature about 5 hours in warm weather, 6 hours in cold weather, or until dough is light, spongy, and almost tripled in bulk. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes without deflating.

4. Deflating and redistributing the yeast cells: Using a plastic scraper, deflate the dough by stirring it down. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. With floured hands, gently press the dough into a rectangle, then gently fold into thirds. Dust with flour. Wrap well and refrigerate. Allow dough to harden and ripen overnight. Punch down once or twice if necessary. The dough will keep 3 days in the refrigerator if well wrapped and weighted down, or it can be frozen for 1 week. (Dough doesn't freeze well for longer than 1 week.) To defrost, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

c\Paula Wolfert

1979 Pleasures of Cooking (cuisinart magazine); 1983 Cooking of SouthWest France; 2004 website

I'd like to bring this up because I've made this brioche quite often, lately. I love it. I tried also artisan bread in 5 minutes brioche but doesn't compare to this one. Thanks, Paula!

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