As you may recall, I am working my way through Larousse Gastronomique with A News Cafe, rather slowly, I admit. My family has just moved into a new home, and amusingly enough, I am now baking in what I lovingly call my ‘Easy Bake Oven.’
Now that the Charroins are settled and back to somewhat normal, I am determined to move briskly through Larousse. I have just the winter delight to warm your soul. What can be better than waking up to the warm scent of sweet buttery brioche? Well, I am sure there are many things that may come to mind, but for me, the aroma of a buttery, sweet delight baking in an oven, no matter how small, makes a home feel like, well … home.
Perusing through my copy of Larousse, I am fascinated by the long entries on butchering, banquets (19 pages), and the delightful history of Botulism. Choosing my ‘B’ entry was difficult. Brioche won out because of its versatility and because many people believe that brioche is a complicated bread to make. According to Larousse, brioche is often made in the shape of a circle or ball surmounted by a head. Traditionally brioche is made in a tin fluted mold, but purchasing new equipment is not necessary; brioche works fantastic in a typical bread pan or use your muffin pan for individual brioche. I hope that you will give brioche a try and discover the versatile dough that will delight and impress. Use brioche for pecan sticky buns, savory flamiche, or use day-old brioche for amazing stuffed french toast.
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 pound unsalted butter — soft, but not greasy-soft
1 tablespoon yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup warm water
In the bowl of an electric mixer place the water and the yeast. Let the yeast ‘wake up’ and then add the egg and one cup of the flour.
Mix to combine. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
Add the sugar, salt, remaining flour and eggs to the mixture. Using the electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix on low for a few minutes to combine.
Crank up the mixer to medium high and beat the dough for about 4 minutes, or until the dough wraps itself around the dough hook. Turn the mixer down to low and add the butter in small chunks at a time.
After all of the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to medium high and beat the brioche for about 4 minutes, or until the dough wraps around the hook. The brioche should be smooth, silky, and shiny. Allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours.
On a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle a little flour. Spread dough out and cover. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Form dough into loaves or in muffin tins. Be sure to butter your pans! Depending on size, bake for 20-45 minutes; check for a deep golden brown color.
Andrea Charroin is a trained baker and was a pastry chef in San Francisco before she and her family moved to Redding 11 years ago. After falling in love with Redding’s downtown, Andrea and husband Westley opened a little pastry shop, Rene-Joule Patisserie, across from the Cascade Theatre. For the three years Rene-Joule was in business, it was renowned for making everything from scratch, using the best ingredients and keeping with a seasonal menu. To this day, Andrea is asked about her Marathon Bars, Orange Twists and sourdough bread.
Copyright 2010 Andrea R. Charroin. Visit her blog at bakerslove.typepad.com
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