a baker's dozen ~ brioche

Saturday, July 2, 2011
This is a true account of what happened to me on Monday night while I trying to make this bread......

After the sponge had rested and I was beginning my stage of adding the butter, which includes mixing with my kitchenaid for about 15 minutes or more.  Right after I've added all the butter, I turn the mixer up to medium and I have to let it go for 15 minutes.

Now, before I continue, picture the situation, it's 6:30pm on a Monday, I'm in yoga pants (and not my nice ones), I'm wearing a cupcake apron, shoes are littered everywhere throughout the apartment, my hair is in an atrocious bun/headband combination and I'm covered in flour and butter. Oh, and the husband isn't home.

Over the mixer, I hear a knock at the door. 'What the eff?' I think semi-out loud, walking over to the door. We live in an apartment, so I take a look through the peephole and see that it's my neighbour from downstairs. 

I open the door quizzically and begin;

" Hi!"

" Hello. What are you doing up here?"

Staring down at my APRON and FLOUR COVERED HANDS I reply, "I'm baking, what can I help you with?"

"Well, I came up because the ceiling was shaking and I wanted to know what you were doing up here"

"As you can see, I'm using my mixer, but other than that, I don't know what would be causing the shaking..."

He proceeds to linger and stare into my apartment for a minute or so, and then ask "So, whatcha baking?"

As the cats interest has now been perked and they start wandering towards the door to smell the strangers scents, I reply " I'm making brioche, I'll be done shortly. Bye."

I slowly close the door, hoping he gets the hint... He does and walks away.

Now, I could understand this complaint if I had never used my mixer before and it was say, 15 years old and made enourmous clunking noises. But, my mixer is about 4 years old and I use is at least 4 times a week. How has this guy never heard it before?

The husband's theory is that he can smell my weekly treats and thought he'd come up to try and get some.

My reply?

I'm gonna put the mixer on the floor next time I use it. On full speed. Whipping multiple batches of whipped cream.

[ from Baking with Julia ]

1/3 cup warm whole milk, about 100 - 110 degrees Fahrenheit
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups (approx.) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

for baking:
1 large egg mixed beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water

To start the sponge, in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer, combine the milk, yeast, egg and one cup of flour. Stir with a rubber spatula until everything is just blended. Sprinkle remaining cup of flour over sponge, making sure entire sponge is covered. Let sit uncovered for 30 - 40 minutes. During this time, you will notice a crack form in the flour coating, that means everything is cooking away just right.

Add the sugar, salt, eggs and 1 cup flour to the sponge. Using the dough hook attachment of the mixer, mix on low speed for a minute or two or until the mixture looks like it's just about to come together. Keeping the mixer on low, sprinkle in 1/2 cup more flour. When all the flour is incorporated, increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 15 minutes (see above story), stopping periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl. During this mixing period, you should hear an audible slapping sound from the dough slapping the sides of the mixer bowl and wrapping itself around the hook. If after 7 - 10 minutes, you don't start hearing a slapping sound, the dough maybe still be too wet. Mix in a tablespoon or two of flour until the dough forms cohesively and you hear that slapping sound.

da butter.
Before you add the butter, it must be a similar texture to the dough, you can achieve that by either bashing it with a rolling pin or scraping it with dough scraper until it is smooth and subtle, not oily. It should also still be cool to the touch. With the mixer on medium-low, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. The dough will start to break apart and it looks as if it's just smearing the butter all over the bowl, that's okay. Just keep mixing and have faith. When all the butter has been added, turn the mixer up to medium and beat for about 5 minutes, or until you hear that slapping sound again. If you don't start to hear the slapping sound, add a tablespoon or more of flour. After that the dough should come together quite nicely. When you are finished mixing, the dough should feel slightly sticky and cool to the touch.

Transfer dough to an extra-large, buttered bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature until doubled, about 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

After the first rise, deflate dough by lifting the edges and dropping them back down again. Do this all around the dough. Cover the bowl back up with plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge for at least 6 - 7 hours, but ideally overnight is best.

When you are ready to make the loaves, butter three 8 1/2x2 1/2-inch loaf pans and set aside.
Divide the dough in thirds and keep the portions of dough you are not working with in the refrigerator. Only a lightly floured surface, divide piece of dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place ball in to a prepared loaf pan so you have 3 rows of 2. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cover pans with buttered plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours or until they have doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly brush loaves with egg wash, taking care that you do not let it dribble into the pan, and working quickly, using the ends of sharp scissors, snip a cross in the top of each dough ball.

Bake for 30 minutes or until deeply golden. If the loaves start to brown too quickly, cover them with a foil tent. Once removed from the oven, cool to temperature on a rack. Brioche can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for a day or two, but they are best served the day they are made. And you don't have to share with your weirdo neighbour if you don't want to.