Monday 21 November 2011

After more than a decade......

            Good afternoon everyone! Today is officially the first day of the school holidays for the primary school  kids  here in Singapore. Theoretically, with the holidays, I would have more time to complete my long list of things to do. But very often, a lot of unplanned errands & requests cropped up because "mummy is free"! Guess I need to plan this  holidays carefully so that it'll be a productive one......we'll see.......

                I've been baking quite a bit these past weeks but I've not managed to post the recipes & pictures. More than a week ago, I baked a few loaves of  Brioche. I used the recipe by Dorie Greenspan from Baking With Julia. I bought this book more than a decade ago when  I was living in the US. It was one of the numerous visits to one of the numerous second hand book stores in town, while waiting for my other half slowly looking through his books, I headed to the cooking section. The thing that attracted my attention was the sign that said, "50% off all cooking books"! Why did I choose this book? Must be the picture on the cover & the fact that it is hard cover. Since at that time, I didn't really appreciate  Julia Child's popularity among the Americans, I don't think she was the reason I bought the book. I also didn't know who Dorie Greenspan was. But  I'm glad I bought the book! Only a year or two later did I realise how  well-respected & popular they are in the baking & cooking arena. Glad I made the impulsive purchase too as I paid only US$12 (about SG$20 at that time)!

            Anyway, I've looked through this book a few times & bookmarked some pages (as usual....) but never got down to using any of the recipes. Recently, I looked through it again, carefully scrutinising the pages, reminding me of  my school days! I've rebookmarked some pages & finally, after more than a decade, I made its Brioche!

            This is not my first time making Brioche. The first few times I made this was during the Bread-Making Course at BITC. I totally can't recall how it tasted but I do remember I didn't like making it because, for a bread, I thought it used too much butter & eggs. Well, times have changed, I'm wiser & more open-minded now as far cooking & baking are concerned. I realise now, even in this field, I need to look at things in perspective.....
          Greenspan wrote that Brioche is a cross between bread & pastry. But it really tastes more a bread than a pastry. It's really a rich bread although it doesn't taste as rich as I thought it would be. The  next time I make this, I would add more salt or I'd use salted butter instead to enhance the flavour.


Recipe by Dorie Greenspan from Baking With Julia.

1/3 cup warm whole milk (37-43 deg C)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast.
1 large egg
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( I used Gold Medal.)

  1. Put the milk, yeast, egg & 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer.
  2. Mix the ingredients together with a rubber spatula, mixing just until everything is blended. Sprinkle over the remaining cup of flour over the sponge.
  3. Set the sponge aside to rest uncovered for 30-40 minutes. After this resting time, the flour coating will crack, your indication that everything is moving along properly.
The dough
1/3 cup up sugar
1 tsp kosher salt (I used regular salt. I'll add more the next time.)
4 large eggs (lightly beaten)
1 1/2 cup ( approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 sticks (170g) unsalted butter

  1. Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge.
  2. Set in the mixer, attach the dough hook, and mix on low speed for a minute or two, just until the ingredients look as if they are about to come together.
  3. Still mixing, sprinkle in 1/2 cup more flour.
  4. When the flour is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 15 minutes, stopping to scrape down the hook and bowl as needed.
  5. During this mixing period, the dough should come together, wrap itself around the hook and slap the sides of the bowl.
  6. In order to incorporate the butter into the dough, you must work the butter until it is the same consistency as the dough.
  7. You can bash the butter into submission with a rolling pin or give it kinder and gentler handling by using a dough scraper to smear it bit by bit across a smooth work surface.
  8. When it is ready, the butter will be smooth, soft, and still cool- not warm, oily or greasy.
  9. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time.
  10. This is the point at which you'll think you've made a huge mistake, because the dough that you worked so hard to make smooth will fall apart- don't worry, don't panic- carry on.
  11. When all of the butter has been added, raise the mixer speed to medium-high for a minute, then reduce the speed to medium and beat the dough for about 5 minutes, or until you once again hear the dough slapping against the sides of the bowl.
  12. Clean the sides of the bowl frequently as you work; if it looks as though the dough is not coming together after 2-3 minutes, add up to 1 tablespoon more flour.
  13. When you're finished, the dough should feel somewhat cool.
  14. It will be soft and sill sticky and may cling slightly to the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  15. FIRST RISE: Transfer the dough to a very large buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2- 2 1/2 hours.
  16. SECOND RISE AND CHILL: Deflate the dough by placing your fingers under it, lifting a section of dough, and then letting it fall back into the bowl.
  17. Work your way around the circumference of the dough, lifting and releasing.
  18. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight, or for at least 4-6 hours, during which time it will continue to rise and may double in size again.
  19. After the long chill, the dough is ready to use in any brioche recipe.

  1. Butter three 81/2- by 41/2- by 21/2-inch loave pans. Set aside. (I used two 81/2 x 41/2 x 21/2 & one  8x8 inch pans & divided the dough accordingly.)
  2. Divide the dough into thirds.
  3. Divide each section into 6 equal pieces (I divided into 3 for small & 6 for large pan.) and shape each piece into a ball on a lightly floured work-surface.
  4. Place the balls side-by-side in a greased loaf pan so that you have 3 short rows, each with two balls of dough.
  5. Do the same with the other two pieces of brioche dough.
  6. Cover the pans with plastic and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190deg C).
  8. Lightly brush each loaf with egg wash, taking care not to let the glaze dribble into the pan (it will impair the dough's rise in the oven).
  9. Use the ends of a pair of very sharp scissors to snip a cross in each ball of dough.
  10. Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 200°F (93degC).
  11. Cool to room temperature on a rack.
  1. STORING: If you are not going to use or bake the dough after it's second rise, deflate it, wrap it airtight, and store it in the freezer.
  2. The dough can remain frozen for up to a month.
  3. Thaw the dough, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight and use it directly from the refrigerator.
  4. You could also use this dough to make the very finest sticky-buns you've ever eaten in your entire life, or you can press it out in a deep dish pizza pan, cover it with cream cheese mixed with powdered sugar, the put fruit slices or berries over it for a very upscale"fruit pizza".

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