Brrrriiiiiioche, even the act of saying the word is sexy and indulgent. It was the kind of bread my mother turned her nose up at, “too rich, too much butter….”, and if that is your belief, this post is not for you. However, if like me, you believe those phrases were invented purely to pique your interest, please, come into my parlour!
I had dreamed of brioche, and fantasized about it’s buttery delights long before it was available here in Melbourne. At that time, I could only use my imagination to envisage how magical this egg and butter enriched, fluffy bun must be. I would, as I grew, be able to travel halfway across the city to buy croissants, freshly baked, by a real French baker, but being ever so entranced by my croissants, I never did ask to buy a brioche! It would be many years until I would be brave enough to try my hand at baking bread, and since I never fancied myself as any good, I always left the brioche of my fantasies, right where it had always been, only in my dreams.
If I had followed my food dreams as a teen, I certainly would have apprenticed as a patissier. When I look back, the number of cookbooks I picked up when I was younger, and the number of recipes I tried to emulate astounds me. Yes, a ‘can do’ attitude will lead you to mistakes and disappointment, as I discovered when I tried to make my own croissants at the age of 16, in the middle of a hot Melbourne Summer, with no airconditioning!
However, the call of patisserie has been like a Siren song across the years, something I would succumb to and, dabble in occasionally, but always with the hard-won, knowledge that pastry making was developed for those with time and patience. Yep, something that busy working Mum’s are never in great supply of!
So, armed with Bernard Clayton Jr’s recipe for brioche, (yes, a practical and highly regarded, American baker), and an eye on the clock, I am providing a ‘how to’ guide for getting brioche’s hot out of the oven for Sunday brunch.
Bernard Clayton’s Brioche (yeah okay, I made some very, very minor changes!)
Friday or Saturday Night (approx. 20 minutes of work time) :
a) Before you start cooking dinner, (if you sleep early, or if you have very young kids).
b) Or, After you have finished dinner, and before you start anything else (maybe sitting down to watch TV?!);
4 cups plain flour
3 Tblspns (15ml) sugar
2 Tspns salt
1 package of dry yeast
1/4 cup full cream milk powder
1/2 cup warm water
230g butter (room temp)
4 extra large eggs
Into a large mixer bowl pour 1 cup of flour, the other dry ingredients, anbd water. Beat in the mixer for 2 minutes at medium speed.
Add the butter and continue beating to blend together.
Add a second cup of flour. Mix thoroughly. Add the eggs, one at a time and the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time beating after each addition.
The dough will be soft and sticky, and it must be beaten until all ingredients have been well incorporated..
Attach a dough hook to your mixer.
Turn the mixer on medium. The dough hook will seem to turn aimlessly, but soon the dough will begin to come away from the sides. Be patient. Mix for a total of 10 minutes.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 2 hrs.
Later that evening (approx. 10 minutes of work time) :
a) After cooking, eating and possibly clearing up after dinner, (but definitely before you do little kids bath and bedtime).
b) Or, after about 1 1/2 -2 hrs of clearing dinner, and other ‘stuff’ (reading, surfing or watching TV if you are lucky!);
Marvel at how your dough has risen to about double the size!
Take off plastic wrap and keep it aside.
Grab dough and give it a squish or two with your hands, or as Bernard says, “stir down dough” if you know what that means?!
Wrap dough in the plastic wrap you took off the bowl.
Put it in the fridge and go to bed. Yes, you can keep it there until Sunday if you are making dough on Friday night, or you could just bake it Saturday morning if you want!
Sunday morning 8 am (approximately 30 min of work time):
a) If you are an early riser, or have young kids, get up, make them breakfast, throw the laundry in the machine, make yourself a cup of tea, tell your partner to watch the kids, and then see below;
b) If you don’t normally get up early, sorry, you need to get up around 8.30- 9.00am (you can go back to bed in a few minutes!);
50% Cocoa chocolate bits or a bar that is roughly chopped, approximately 2 cups.
1 egg beaten with 1 Tblspn (15ml) milk to brush.
Divide dough into 4 pieces. Place one onto floured work surface, keep remaining pieces wrapped in refrigerator.
Press and roll dough into a narrow rectangle approximately 1cm thick.
Cut strip of dough into rectangles approximately 5cm x 10-15 cm. (I actually use a stainless steel ruler to cut straight lines, although I don’t actually measure!)
Place chocolate bits approximately 1 cm down from the narrow edge of the piece of dough. Pick up narrow edge, roll over chocolate bits and keep going until you have a neat little roll.
Place brioche rolls, seam side down on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.
Repeat process until all the rolls are made.
Brush all the rolls with the egg and milk mixture.
(This whole shaping process takes about 2o – 30 minutes)
Turn on oven to preheat, at 180 degrees Celcius. Don’t put the rolls in yet!!!
Leave rolls in a warm place to rise for 30 – 45 minutes
a) & b) Whether you have kids or not, go back to bed, with a cup of tea and the paper, maybe? Okay, reality bites, hang out the laundry, sweep the floor, clear away the kids breakfast (or feed them the cold leftovers!) and stack the dishwasher.
Sunday Morning 10am (approx 5 minutes of work time then 20 minutes baking time)
Brush rolls a second time with egg and milk mixture and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
Leave to cool on a wire rack or just devour them steaming hot!
Left overs can be reheated in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and if you have more than you can eat, freeze them for next week’s brunch!
Et voila, a time managed indulgence for the family, or maybe just for you and a special someone.
Home made, French patisserie before 10.30am on a Sunday morning, Bliss!
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