There are some recipes that every serious baker should have. Pie dough, for example. Or a good chocolate chip cookie. A cake to bring to parties is also useful to have on hand. The recipe I’ve been giving thought to lately is Brioche, a rich, buttery bread. Brioche is versatile, being commonly used in a variety of sweet and savoury applications. Useful and delicious.
The first step is to hit the books. I do mean books, too. Though occasionally I resort to online research, I prefer finding my recipes in actual books. The initial though is that recipes in books are more reliable, but in practice most online resources often work even better than some in books. You can’t generally write on the pages of online recipes, though. Once I’ve found a recipe to use as a base, it’s time to tweak. The recipe that most appealed is from Glorious French Food by James Peterson. His recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s and in turn I am adapting it from him.
The first thing I do (as with many recipes) is reduce the sugar. Especially with bread I want to keep the sweetness to a minimum and focus on the almost croissant-like butter flavour. It’s important to know your ingredients. Sugar doesn’t just sweeten, it also softens the final product. So a brioche with less sugar could lead to a stiffer product. To compensate is easy enough, we’ll just increase the ratio of liquid to flour. And we’ll add a wee bit of extra butter just for fun. Yes, that means more fat, but do you know what fat is? Flavour. Fat is flavour.
75g Scalded Milk
250g All Purpose Flour
5g Instant Yeast
180g Softened Butter
Combine the ingredients for the sponge and mix together loosely. Cover with the flour from the rest of the dough and let sit for about an hour. Once the sponge is ready the flour on top will be thoroughly cracked. Next add in everything else except the butter and knead until the gluten is mostly developed. If you are using a stand mixer switch from your dough hook attachment to your paddle. Start mixing in the butter a bit at a time until the dough is uniform. Toss in a container and refrigerate overnight. The next day, divide into 150 gram potions and roll so that they have a tapered end and a rather bulbous one. Tie each one in a knot as shown above. Leave to rise until fully proofed and egg wash. Bake at 375° for about half an hour.