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Saturday, 11 January 2014

New Experiment - Brioche Dough

Brioche dough is something that I have never tried baking, and I don't think I have ever eaten a proper bit of brioche.  As I did with my focaccia experiment, I will not be following a recipe from anyone else.  I like to follow a process with all my recipes and this brioche post is an outline of the process I follow.

Brioche bun with wild plum jam



First I have done a little reading about brioche, I found some interesting recipes, this one from Michel Roux is interesting and wikipedia's entry has a lot of historical context.  There seems to be a range of dough that could be considered brioche, most are bread dough fortified with eggs and butter. They range from the lightly fortified, but still more fortified than my sweet bun dough, with only a small amount of egg and butter, to heavily fortified. The Roux recipe is right at the rich end of the scale. 6 eggs and 350g of butter for 500g of flour is a lot of enrichment.  I don't really know how much fat you can put in a dough before the yeast retards so much that it will no longer ferment, but this is about as rich a dough as I have come across.

For my dough I want to put enough enrichment into it to produce a rich brioche, but I would also like to have a longer slower fermentation do develop some extra flavour.  In order to do this I will be using slightly less butter and I will be pre-fermenting a third of the flour with about 5g of instant yeast. Pre-fermenting will allow the yeast to multiply and by-products of fermentation to be produced rapidly without the presence of fat.

The pre-ferment is then thinned by adding 50ml of cold milk, the remainder of the flour added along with the eggs, well beaten first.  The dough is roughly mixed and then left to stand for 15 minutes, this will reduce the amount of kneading required.  I would make my dough as wet as possible in order to get the lightness and extended texture inside that I want.  This poses one of the problems I will face today as a really wet dough is quite easy to make with a mixer, but I do not have one, so this will need to be mixed enough to develop the gluten by hand.

After standing, 200g of softened butter is mixed into the dough, mixing for another 10 minutes brings the dough to a consistency that I am almost happy with, by this time, my arms are burning and ready to give up on the mixing.  Further development of the gluten is achieved by gently stretching and folding the dough a few times every 30 min during fermentation.  Fermentation is given 3 hours at about 20°C and then the dough is retarded in the refrigerator for 5 hours.  After laying a few bricks for my new wood fired oven the dough is taken out of the refrigerator and warmed up again for 30 mins before shaping.  I do not have any proper brioche bun tins or loaf tin, so instead I use large muffin cups and a regular loaf tin.  Each tin gets 3/4 of a portion of dough shaped into a ball in the bottom and then on top a smaller ball with the remainder of the portion.

Finally, I prove the dough for about 2 hours at room temperature until it is a little over 2x bigger than the shaped dough. Then baked at about 190 °C for 15 minutes for the buns, and about 35 mins for the loaf.

I am very happy with my first attempt.  They are light and fluffy with bags of lovely flavour, I suspect a lot of this is from the really good quality butter and the excellent eggs.  We have now tested the result served with some of my Wife's wild plum jam.

For the bakers reading, here is the crumb shot!