I’ve been well and truly bitten by the bread-baking bug, and whether this has anything to do with Molly’s theory I’m unsure, but I hope it doesn’t stop anytime soon. I love kneading the dough and the wonderful smells of bread baking that emanate from my kitchen. While originally, this month’s Tartine Cookbook challenge was going to be brownies on page 160, I’d made a similar dessert recently and was eager to try something else. Something like brioche, perhaps.
I have made brioche before with a much simpler recipe – it was almost too easy – so I was keen to try Tartine’s, wondering if it would taste different. This recipe is very time consuming because there is a lot of waiting around, and making these took practically the whole weekend. The recipe could have been a bit more detailed in explaining what to look out for, rather than how long it should take, because in quite a few parts I was left scratching my head, doing what I thought sounded right and keeping my fingers firmly crossed.
Was it worth all the time and trouble? It had all the hallmarks of a good brioche, but the simple recipe came pretty close in the end. However, I’m glad I gave it a go and I definitely learned a thing or two in the process, and got some bread baking out of my system. Check back on Friday to see what I made with my brioche!
Adapted from the Tartine Bakery Cookbook
Makes 3 loaves
• ¾ cup low-fat milk
• 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 1 ¾ cups bread flour
• 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
• 5 large eggs
• 1 ¼ cup whole milk
• 3 ½ cups bread flour
• ¼ cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 235g unsalted butter, chilled but pliable
• 2 large egg yolks
• 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• Pinch Salt
1. To make the preferment, warm the milk just enough to take the chill off. Pour into a mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk and stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve, and then add the flour, mixing with the spoon until a smooth batter forms. Cover the bowl with a cloth and place in a cool, draft-free area for 1 hour and then in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours to cool down. The mixture will rise until doubled in volume and not yet collapsing.
2. During this time, measure all the ingredients for the dough. To make the dough, transfer the preferment and then the yeast to the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until the yeast is incorporated into the preferment batter. Stop the mixer as needed and use a spatula to clean the bottom and sides of the bowl.
3. When the mixture comes together into an even well-mixed mass, begin to add the eggs one at a time, increasing the mixer speed to medium to incorporate the eggs.
4. Once the eggs are incorporated, reduce the mixer speed to low and begin to slowly add 1 cup of milk. When fully incorporated, stop the mixer and add the flour, sugar and salt in 3-4 additions. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until you see a dough forming and it starts to come away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
5. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes. Begin mixing again on medium speed until the dough again starts to come away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. At this stage, the dough will appear very silky and elastic.
6. To add the butter, squeeze small amounts through your fingers so they become ribbons as they drop into the bowl. Stop the mixer to clean the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed with a spatula. Don’t mix too much butter in too quickly because the mixture will heat up. When all the butter has been added, allow the mixer to run for another 2 minutes to make sure the butter is fully incorporated. The dough should still be coming away from the sides of the bowl at this point.
7. Now, slowly add the remaining ¼ cup milk in increments of 1 tablespoon and increase the mixer speed to high. Mix until the dough is very smooth and silky and continues to pull cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
8. Cover the bowl with a cheesecloth or plastic wrap. Put into the freezer for at least 2 hours and then transfer the dough to the refrigerator for 3-5 hours before shaping the dough.
9. Spray three 9×5 inch load pans with cooking spray. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and roll out until about 1 inch thick. Divide into 3 equal portions. Press each portion into a rectangle the length of the loaf pan and slightly wider than the pan. Starting from a narrow end, roll up the rectangle tightly, pinch the ends and seam to seal, and place seam side down into prepared pan. The pan should be no more than 1/3 full.
10. Place in a draft-free area and let rise for 2-3 hours. During this final rising, the brioche dough should at least double in size and look noticeably puffy but still resilient to the touch.
11. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). When loaves are risen, make the egg wash. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cream and salt until you have a pale yellow mixture. Using a pastry brush, brush the mixture onto the tops of the loaves. Let the wash dry for 10 minutes before baking.
12. Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 175°C (350°F) and bake until the loaves are a uniformly dark golden brown, about 45 minutes longer. Remove the pans from the oven, and immediately turn the loaves out onto wire racks to cool.
13. The loaves can be eaten warm from the oven, or allowed to cool. If you keep them for longer than a day, wrap in plastic wrap and store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.