Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Brioche

Weather often provides us with excuses to get out of the things we really don't want to do. This time, Hurricane Irene gave me the perfect excuse to do exactly what I wanted to do, stay in and bake. Steve racked up some major brownie points on Thursday night by bringing over his old stand mixer. Precisely what I needed to kick of our brioche marathon weekend. At first glance, brioche might seem intimidating, overwhelming, or even untouchable. It is a pretty long process, but I was surprised by how forgiving it actually was.

If you're interested in baking this brioche or other delicious breakfast breads and pastries, I suggest you order the Tartine cookbook. If you enjoy a more rustic style of baking and want to learn how to bake using your own natural leaven, pick up the newer Tartine Bread cookbook. Can't go wrong either way. They're both fantastic.

The Tartine recipe makes three 9x5 loaves. I ended up staggering the three loaves, baking the first in a 10x4 bread pan on Friday (worked fine), then used the same bread pan on Saturday (because of the longer rise it didn't work so well... the bread poured over the sides while baking), and decided to make brioche buns with the third dough on Sunday.

Preferment Ingredients

3/4 cup nonfat milk
1 3/4 tsp instant yeast (Tartine calls for 2 tsp active dry yeast)
1 3/4 cup bread flour

Dough Ingredients

1 tbsp + 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast (Tartine calls for 2 tbsp + 1 tsp active dry yeast)
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3 1/2 cup bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Egg Wash

4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

I'm not going to write out step-by-step instructions because IF you have the desire to make brioche, you owe it to yourself to get the Tartine book.

Here are some pictures from my 4-day brioche party for your enjoyment, and hopefully reference.

Rolled it from one narrow end to the other and placed it in the buttered bread pan, seam side down.

Within 2-3 hours will double in volume. Trust your gut on when it's ready to go in because the temperature of your home will severely impact the rise time.

The recipe said to bake at 425° for 15 minutes, then reduce oven to 350° and bake for another 45 minutes... Mine was done in 35-40 minutes total. It could be because of the smaller bread pan and/or because I was baking them one at a time.

Very flattering picture of me eating my first slice. Nom Nom Nomm....

After two gorgeous, airy loaves of brioche, I decided we needed some brioche buns for our veggie burger dinner.

Rolled the dough into 6 even balls and lightly pressed down on them to flatten.

I placed them in a turned-off oven to rise because (a) it's much cooler than a hot NYC apartment in the summer, and (b) it's draft free. After they almost doubled in size (about 1.5 to 2 hours) I brushed on the egg wash and sprinkled with sesame seeds. You'll want to let the egg wash dry for 5-10 minutes before baking.

Bake at 425° for 10-15 minutes. Let cool (or not) on a wire rack and serve 'em up!

We prepared a classic veggie burger with a Garden Burger patty, smoked gouda, avocado-mayo-sriracha spread (made my Steve), boston lettuce, thinly sliced sweet yellow onions, and a hefty slice of beef steak tomato.


  1. hi shantilly picnic...... i love your blog. your writing is so friendly and your photos make everything look irresistible.
    I liked the part about you the best.... I think you are on the road to something very sweet!

  2. Thanks Regina! Missing all of you at the beach this weekend!