Friday, December 23, 2011
Brioche Loaf for Sandwiches and French Toast
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...My family loves really good French toast and to be honest with you they're more than a little spoiled, at least at this time of year. I have a lovely recipe for French toast that I'll happily share with you, but the only thing that really sets it apart from others you have seen, is the bread I use to make it. At Christmas time, I whip out eggs and lots of butter and make a loaf-shaped brioche that is used to prepare holiday sandwiches and French toast. There will be a second, more classic brioche, served for breakfast on New Years day, but Christmas and French toast have become a tradition in our home and this bread is where it starts. If you have an electric stand mixer and can wait 24 hours before baking the dough, the bread, while not easy to make, is doable. It also helps to be a little crazy, but we'll talk of that another day. You also will be asked to put your creative instincts aside. Even small changes to this recipe can be disastrous, and, I know from experience, that you will be tempted to make them. Please don't! This recipe was developed by Sally Darr for Gourmet magazine about 10 years ago. It works if you follow it. Here's the deal. The magic that will transform the sticky mass you've created into a workable bread dough, occurs in the refrigerator, not on the bread board. The addition of more flour might make a workable dough but it will not make brioche. So, I'm going to ask you to suspend belief, and trust me on this one. That shaggy mass will turn into brioche without the addition of extra flour and you will love its crust and crumb. Here's the recipe. I double-dog dare you to give it a try.
Brioche Loaf...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Gourmet magazine and Sally Darr
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm milk or water (105 degrees F)
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon hot milk or water
3 large eggs
1-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices and well softened
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1) To make starter: Stir milk and sugar together in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir 1/2 cup flour into yeast mixture, forming a soft dough, and cut a deep X across top. Let starter rise, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature, 1 hour.
2) To make dough: Combine salt, sugar, and hot milk in a small bowl and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Fit mixer with whisk attachment, then beat 2 eggs at medium-low speed until fluffy. Add sugar mixture and beat until combined well. With motor running, add in order, beating after each addition: 1/2 cup flour, remaining egg, 1/2 cup flour, about one fourth of butter, and remaining 1/2 cup flour. Beat mixture 1 minute. Remove bowl from mixer and fit mixer with dough-hook attachment. Spread starter onto dough with a rubber spatula and return bowl to mixer. Beat dough at medium-high speed 6 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add remaining butter and beat 1 minute, or until butter is incorporated. The dough will be a sticky stringy mass at this point. This is normal, so not to worry. DO NOT add more flour. Lightly butter a large bowl and scrape dough into bowl with rubber spatula. Lightly dust dough with flour to prevent a crust from forming. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature until more than doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours. Punch down dough and lightly dust with flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough, punching down after first hour, at least 12 hours. Dough may be chilled up to 3 days. Punch down dough each day.
3) To form and bake brioche: Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Remove dough from refrigerator and turn onto a well floured surface. Flour your hands and form dough into a 9-inch log. Transfer to pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until dough has more than doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Adjust rack to middle of oven before preheating to 375 degrees F. Mix egg yolk and heavy cream together in a small bowl. Brush over surface of bread. Bake loaf until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool bread in pan on a rack for 20 minutes, then turn out onto rack and allow loaf to cool completely, about 1 hour. Yield: 1 loaf.
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