Thursday, November 19, 2009


To me, brioche is like a cross between a loaf of bread and a criossant. The dough is enriched with butter, eggs, and sometimes milk. I used the recipe from Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible.
(This was only after trying Wolfgang Puck's recipe from Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen...this book is not very well edited, I do not recommend it for the home cook! Let's just say I had a botched batch ;) )

From what I have read, the key is to keep the dough cold because the butter in it needs to be kept cold. The dough is also pretty sticky. I was worried when I made this batch because I thought that it would be impossible to shape it due to stickiness, but when the time came to shape it, the dough was not as sticky and it was very easy to shape.
The brioche pictured above is a "Brioche Nanterre." This is how I shaped it:

If you stagger the dough balls, you get a more braided look in your finished brioche. I find this more appealing than lining them up straight. Since I do not own a brioche pan, I chose this way of shaping the dough.

!I can't wait to smear this stuff with butter, honey, jam, Nutella... etc!
I don't mind having leftover brioche a few days later either because it's great in french toast and bread pudding.

Brioche recipe (taken from The Bread Bible): *yield: 2 brioche nanterre

4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water, 120 degrees
6 eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened but still cool and cut into small pieces

In a stand mixer w/ paddle attachment, combine 1 cup flour and all the salt, sugar and yeast.
Add the water and mix at medium high speed until smooth ( 2 mins). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add 2 more cups of flour. Add the butter, one piece at a time and beat until smooth. Lastly add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour. (*at this point I switch to the dough hook attachment).
Pour the dough into a greased rising container, cover tightly w/ plastic wrap, and allow to rise at room temp until doubled in bulk, about 3 hrs. Once it has risen, gently deflate it by pressing on it with a spatula. Cover it and allow it to proof overnight in the refrigerator. (*8-12 hrs...although I let mine go for about 15 hours and it was fine)

Remove from the fridge and dust a work surface with flour. Grease two loaf pans. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and cut it in half (*w/ a bench scraper works best). Roll each large piece into a snake and cut each snake into 6 pieces. Shape each of those and form into balls. Place the dough balls 6 to greased loaf pans as in the photo above.
Allow to proof for 1 hour covered in plastic wrap. 20 mins prior to the hour, preheat the oven to 375.
Mix one egg yolk with 1 Tbsp whole milk and brush the dough.
Bake for 30-40 mins, turning in the oven halfway through to ensure even browning.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The October Daring Bakers Challenge: Macaroons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Here is the recipe:

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen. I made a half recipe. For 2.5 egg whites you can guesstimate or use a food scale, 2.5 ounces of egg whites.

My variation for this Daring Bakers Challenge is Almond Macaroon with Amaretto Ganache. To make Amaretto Ganache, boil 1 cup heavy cream, remove from heat and stir in 4 oz finely chopped bittersweet* or semisweet chocolate until smooth. Add a few teaspoons of Amaretto to taste. Put the ganache in the freezer for 10 mins, stir, and spread on the cookies. If the ganache is still too runny simply return it to the freezer for another 5 or so minutes.

*Since these cookies are very sweet I recommend bittersweet chocolate.