Last weekend I had to work, so I was unable to bake any new breads. Instead, I decided to bake on Monday afternoon when I got home from work at 3pm. I usually try to start my baking projects earlier in the day because they tend to take quite a bit of time, but this time I had to adapt. The next bread on the list was brioche, a rich, buttery French bread. The book provided three variations: Rich Man’s Brioche, Middle-Class Brioche, and Poor Man’s Brioche. They are each characterized by the amount of butter (and eggs, I think) they contain. I thought it would be most fitting to make Poor Man’s Brioche, since I myself am poor. I also didn’t want to make anything too unhealthy, since Michael and I are pretty much the only people eating my assorted breads. However, the “leanest” option still contains a whole stick of butter and four eggs!
I started by making a sponge with flour, yeast, and milk. That had to sit for about an hour, and once it was ready I added more flour, sugar, salt, and eggs. This is the dough, before the addition of the butter.
Then, I added in the stick of butter, piece by piece. I must say, this dough was ridiculously sticky and hard to mix! The bagel dough was a snap compared to this. But, I finally got all of the butter incorporated. This is the dough, post-butter. Very silky and smooth.
After it was thoroughly mixed, I transferred it to the table and kneaded for about 10 minutes.
I then had to let the dough rise for about an hour and a half. After that, I formed the dough into brioche à tête rolls. I pretty much learned how to do this by following a link to a video turorial; however, I was at work at the time, so I had to watch it without sound. I watched what the guy did, but if he said anything important during his demonstration, I certainly missed it. So, I pretty much just winged it. This is how they turned out. I ended up with 12, but still haven’t bought that extra baking sheet, so six of them had to rest on an upside-down casserole dish.
About 20 minutes later, I brushed them with an egg wash and then baked them for about 15 minutes at around 400 degrees. My one problem area, no matter what I’m baking, is that I always make unbaked cookies, rolls, etc. much bigger than they should be. Even though the end result is always the same, I never learn that even though the unbaked stuff may look “too small,” it’s not!! So, my rolls turned out pretty huge, not surprisingly. The tops also sprang up quite a bit, which was probably due to an error in formation. But, they were nice and brown and delicious, even though they looked a little goofy.
Although I think they came out reasonably well, I think I’m actually going to give them another go on Saturday. I’ll be attending a French-themed dinner party, so it’ll be a good excuse to try and make a better batch. I may even go for the Middle-Class Brioche the next time around.
Monday is Columbus Day and I’ll have off from work, so at that point I think I will attempt the next bread on the list: Casatiello. This bread is made with brioche dough and has an Italian twist: the inclusion of salami and provolone cheese. Good lord, this Peter Reinhart is certainly trying to fatten me up these days.