I love butter. I used to eat pieces of butter when I was little. (Eek! I couldn’t do that now.)
And so I also, by extension, love brioche. Brioche is what happens to a croissant when, instead of allowing the butter to peacefully coexist in little layers between the dough, you beat it into assimilation. It makes for a very rich, homogenous, and tender bread.
I did, however, show some restraint. I’ve seen brioche go up to 80%, but I kept mine at a moderate, and perhaps a bit stingy, 40%. It’s soft and tender and definitely best when lightly toasted, just to warm it up and recrisp the slightly flaky crust.
Brioche dough is wonderfully soft, with all that butter, and stretchy, from all that gluten development you hopefully created. However, it is best, when you have higher butter content, to keep the dough at a lower temperature; otherwise it can get very greasy. This is one difficulty with sourdough brioche…I wanted to get it done in one day, but cold rises are very, very slow so I ended up leaving the dough out at room temperature. I was just a bit more careful as I worked with it, and it was fine.
Sorry for all the photos… with three different flavours I somehow ended up taking three times the photos I normally do.
Lately I’ve also been concerned with starting the breads I make from percentages. I’m not sure it’s very interesting, but it’s a good reference for me; usually my percentages work don’t turn out too well, but I hope with practice it’ll become less airy guesswork.
Starting percentages: or how I planned to make this bread
Of course things never turn out how I expect them to, so my actual dough ended up having higher hydration, and I cut down on the sugar and salt as I realized just how much I was intending to put in.
Finally, I am a bit disappointed that I only seem to get a few lovely holes in brioche! I don’t aim for a loose crumb in brioche; rather it’s usually a tighter crumb. Whereas in my usual bread…if only I could somehow transfer the holes!
As for the flavours: My favourite was probably the apple brioche; I like the Swiss cheese-type look the pieces of apple gave the bread, and the excess moisture helped. I tend to overbake (even though this time around I remembered to check the internal temperature–I just checked it too late). For that reason the other two brioche were a bit dry, so they were best when toasted.
The crabapple brioche was sweet and sticky–I really like baking with preserves–but I did not notice too much of the orange or lavender.
The pistachio and rose brioche took some warming up to, but the toasted pistachios on top were lovely and it had the lightest (although also the driest) crumb, and the best oven spring.
And happy Fiesta Friday! Has it really been a week since last Friday? I do sometimes try to do 2 posts a week…so I let my blog sit for a little while and before I knew it, Friday again! This event is so very kindly hosted every week by Angie, the Novice Gardener, and cohosted by Aunt Juju of Cooking with Aunt Juju and Amanda, The Chunky Chef.
Sourdough brioche (& three flavours)
100 g flour
50 g starter
100 g milk
Mix to combine. Let ferment overnight.
300 g flour
30 g sugar
5 g salt
4 large eggs (or approximately 200 g)
20 g milk
160 g butter (or around 1.5 sticks)
Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Beat in the sponge, eggs, and milk. Continue mixing/kneading until dough is smooth and satiny, stretchy, soft, and a bit sticky. Add the butter piece by piece and beat until fully combined. The stand mixer with the dough hook is definitely the best for this.
Cover dough, let proof until doubled; 6-8 hours for me. As the dough contains so much butter, don’t let it rise anywhere too warm.
Cut the dough into three pieces; proceed with each of the fillings below.
Spiced apple filling
1 Gala apple (I thought I was going to put more thought into the apples I use, but this one was in the fridge!)
3 small green cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
a good sprinkle of ground cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and nutmeg.
Peel apple and cube. Place in a small saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Crush the cardamom pods, add the whole spices to the water. Heat until it comes to a simmer, cover, remove from the heat and allow to sit for a few hours. Once the dough is proofed, drain the apple cubes.
Take the third of dough and gently knead in the ground spices; due to all the butter, I prefer not to handle the dough too much. Then roll it out into a rough rectangle, place the around 1/3 – 1/2 of apple over top. Roll, cut off one end to form the “tete.” Gently shape into a ball, and place the remaining piece on top.
Place in a buttered brioche pan. Cover and let proof.
Crabapple, orange, and lavender filling
zest of half an orange
Roll out brioche dough into a long rectangle. Spread with crabapple jelly, sprinkle with dried lavender and orange zest. Roll up, lengthwise, into a long rope. Coil, place on a parchment lined pan to proof.
Pistachio and rose filling
handful pistachios, chopped
dried rose petals
a bit of rosewater (unnecessary)
Roll out dough into a rough rectangle. Sprinkle with pistachios. Crumble the dried rose petal and sprinkle that overtop as well, and additional rosewater if desired. Roll into a rope, and cut off one tip to form the “tete.” Form the remainder into a ball, and place into a buttered brioche pan to proof; place the small piece on top.
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400F. Let the brioche rise until fairly well risen, but not doubled; around three hours or perhaps more.
Beat the egg yolk and vanilla extract together. Glaze breads generously.
Bake for 10 minutes at 400F. Turn down the temperature to 350F, and bake for another 20-30 minutes. The internal temperature should be 190F according to this recipe; otherwise bake until the bread is nicely browned.