Brioche

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The second bread I set out to make from the FCI book is Pain Brioche, commonly referred to as simply Brioche.  Brioche, considered a Viennoiserie,  is an enriched French pastry containing a high content of  butter and eggs.  I like to call brioche the link between cake and bread.

For my brioche, I used Plugrá butter which is a European style butter made in the United States.  I wanted to use the Delitia butter, which uses the same milk that goes into Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, but I didn’t have any on hand (and it is expensive at $6.99 for 8 oz).  When there is such a high butter content, I think there is a noticeable difference between using supermarket brand butter and grade AA or European style butters.

The first stages of mixing were really tough on my KitchenAid Artisan mixer.  In fact, this recipe has no chance of being successful if you make it in an Artisan series mixer.  Prior to adding the butter, the dough is very stiff, and the KitchenAid has a real hard time keeping up.  I had to divide the dough in half to mix it, which had a detrimental effect on the finished product, but more on that later.  At any rate, after adding the pounded butter, the mixer had no issues.

I’ll take this moment to comment on mixers.  You’ll see many bread books directly referencing the KitchenAid line of mixers.  In almost all cases, if you study the pics or read more in depth, you will see that these books are invariably using a KitchenAid Commercial series stand mixer, not the wimpy 325-watt 5-quart Artisan mixer you can pick up in Kohls.  The Commercial series KitchenAid is at least a 600 watt mixer and has a 6-7 quart capacity.  You will quickly find that the tilt-head Artisan series twist-lock bowl will get “torqued” into place after an intensive mixing cycle…and it is often quite difficult to get the bowl free from the stand.  With continued bread making, I doubt my consumer grade KitchenAid will live to see another year.  With that said…I have done research and determined that, aside from a Hobart, the best home based stand mixer you can get is the KitchenAid 7-quart NSF model which clocks in at around $800.  If you plan to bake bread more than 1x per week, you might as well start saving for one of these.

Back to the Brioche…for some reason, all the pics I took during the making of this bread did not come out as expected.  So there are very few pics to serve as a guide or reference.

A slight discrepancy in the FCI book allowed more than a fair share of doubt to enter my mind at this point.  The recipe claimed to make 3 loaves of brioche.  Yet all of the pictures in the book showed two loaves during preparation, rising and baking.  I opted to make three loaves, but I think this was a mistake.  The loaves never rose to a point that made me comfortable.  I think this discrepancy originated from using slightly larger loaf pans than what the recipe suggested.  When I do this again, I will only make two loaves.

Here is the brioche after placing it in the loaf pans and painting it with the egg wash:

After rising, the loaves were ready to pop in the oven.  Here is a pic of them during baking:

The finished loaves came out quite nice.  The deep amber color is what really distinguishes a brioche.

The crumb?  Nice, light, airy, fluffy.

After devouring one of the loaves, we contemplated what to do with the remaining two loaves.  One loaf went to an unsuspecting neighbor who seemed slightly annoyed at receiving yet another calorie rich loaf.  “But my freezer is full!” , she moaned.   The remaining loaf was sacrificed and transformed into a really, really rich and decadent bread pudding – made from eggs, cream, cinnamon and rum soaked raisins.  Yummm!

Lessons Learned:

  • This recipe would work better as two loaves, not three.
  • Permit a slightly longer rise when in the loaf pans.
  • Try with a brioche mould.
  • Might try different recipes – the FCI recipe was too much for the KitchenAid and I would have to half the recipe next time if I wanted to do it again.
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