As most have you seen time and time again, I mastered the making of french bread with the DB February challenge. Since then I have to honor my family’s request for it every weekend I go home. This weekend was no different. So I spent Friday evening churning out a double recipe for nice petit pains, half plain and half with poppy seeds. I think I can now do them with my eyes closed and it’s actually almost relaxing. Who knew I’d be saying that?
Empowered by one french bread success, and knowing that those little rolls would go well with the Mother’s Day dinner my aunt was making, I needed to come up with something else for Mother’s Day breakfast. So, at first I went through Dorie’s Baking: From My Home to Yours looking for the lemon poppy seed muffins. I was almost sure that those little darling were what I was going to make. Yet something kept niggling at the back of my mind that it just didn’t feel right. I already knew I was going to be making a spinah frittata and the muffins just didn’t seem right. Perhaps if this year I’d decided that fruit salad and soft boiled eggs were to be on the menu, but that wasn’t to be the case.
Instead I turned to page 48 and opted for this:
Golden Brioche Loaves
2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 3/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
For The Glaze
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can– this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you’re doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you’ll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You’ll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.
Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)
Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.
Final Review: I actually had a lot of fun with this recipe. I even went as far as actually buying unsalted butter to use instead of just substituting it for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (which is a heck of a lot cheaper and what I ALWAYS use when baking). At first I thought I was doing it all wrong, my mixer never seemed to let the bough pull away from the pan. Each rise seemed to be on time and I watched in wonder as the bough stopped being battery in the fridge, a progress made inward as it cooled. Since I didn’t sleep overnight I just let the dough chill for about 6 hours. Then I did the log rolling and the last bit of rising.
I was almost afraid they wouldn’t rise to fill the pan while I waited. I sort of think, though Dorie never mentioned it, that one should work the dough a little bit before rolling it into logs to warm it up some. I didn’t and my rising took nearly 4 hours and that’s something considering the early hours of a PR morning are no longer cool. Still, they eventually did rise, much to my relief, and I got to baking them.
In the end, they sliced up really nicely. The crumb was just wonderful but I wasn’t too fond of the taste. They are meant to be very buttery, but I almost fel like they were too satly. I don’t know precisely what it was. Still, I enjoyed the process of making them and I look forward to trying them again and maybe making them into pecan rolls or something.