My friend Jane wanted to celebrate New Year (belatedly) with our friend Michael, she had a big tin of caviar and a bottle of champagne, all I needed to do was provide something to put the caviar on. Traditionally my favorite vehicle for caviar or Lox are corn cakes, but given how special this caviar was I wanted to make something a bit more fancy. Brioche immediately came to mind. Buttery and rich: perfect for Crème fraîche and deliciously briny caviar.I’ve made Challah before with pretty good success. The one time I tried to make Brioche before this, it was a catastrophe and it’s taken me this long to try again. This time I did way more research . At one point I had 4 cookbooks with 4 different versions of this classic french bread. It was amazing at how complicated and varied they were. Some called for just all-purpose flour others called for just bread flour. Two of them had elaborate rituals around how the butter was to be prepped, in Julia Child’s recipe cold butter was to be walloped with a rolling in. In Tartine’s recipe there is a preferment which is then added to a dough which then has the cubed chilled butter which is then beaten until pliable but not soft, oy!
Then there was Daniel Steven’s recipe in The River Cottage Bread Handbook. His recipe I immediately took to because he calls making Brioche straightforward and then proceeds with the instruction to: mix everything together and knead, this is my kind of recipe!
The crumb is tighter than the light fluffy pictures in the other recipes. Instead of two small traditional loaves I made one large loaf which I baked in a loaf tin. Turned out beautifully tho it did have a crack in it. This is pretty typical in a lot of loaves you make, but I think is not something that is suppose t happen in Brioche. Nonetheless it was delicious and when toasted with salted butter provided an excellent platform for caviar. It would also be great with cream cheese and lox or, for the more simple among us: butter and jam!
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook add: 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons of bread flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast, 2 teaspoons of salt, 6 tablespoons of whole milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, 7 tablespoons room temperature butter (high fat cultured butter if you have it otherwise regular works great too), and 4 large eggs well beaten.
Mix on medium/low for about 10 minutes, until the dough is pliable, smooth and shiny.
Form the dough into a round and cover, let rise in the fridge over night. I made this in the morning and wanted to bake it before bed, so I like it sit in the fridge about 9 hours — Mr Google tells me “over night” means 8-10 hours.
Remove the dough from fridge, at this point you can either divide the dough into 2 pieces on a lightly floured surface and shape into loaves to be baked on a baking sheet. Or leave the piece whole, shape to fit into a loaf pan.
Cover the dough and let proof for 3-4 hours (mine took closer to 4, it should double in size).
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Make a glaze by wishing together: 1 whole egg and 2 tablespoons milk.
Brush the loaves with the glaze. If you want an extra dark and shiny look wait for a few minutes and glaze again.
Bake for about 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake further for another 30 minutes or until gold brown. Let cool on a wire rack.I’m not a bread expert so I am not sure why this crack appeared, it didn’t affect the bread in any way (it was delicious) and I even think it looks nice, but Brioche is not supposed to crack. Could it be from over proofing? If anyone reading this has any ideas I’d love to hear them. Again, it really wasn’t a problem the bread tasted great.
I’ll find out more as I continue to explore Brioche making. This is part 1 of a four-part series. Yes, I am going to make all 4 recipes and see which one works and tastes best.
2016 the year of Brioche!