Yesterday I spent the better part of the day as a slave to yeast, milk, flour, eggs, and butter. It was what later became a “day trip” into the world of making bread, specifically, Brioche. After 24 hours and two batches, I just pulled out what could be considered Brioche, given I’ve never actually seen it in person or tasted it before!
The day all started when I watched a new Martha Stewart show, “Martha Bakes”, on my DVR. The focus was Brioche, three different ways. I was so inspired watching her (she makes EVERYTHING look so easy!) that I decided I could try this. Upon printing out her recipe from the website, I began noticing many disadvantages for me, but they didn’t stop me.
The first was that her measurements for yeast and flour were in ounces, which was foreign to my measuring cups. The second was that her recipe was for 2 loaves, and there was no way I was going to use all those ingredients and not have the dough rise or something. The third, and most obvious for me, was that I don’t have the infamous KitchenAid mixer. Without this machine, I would not be able to mix the dough exactly to what was needed, as my arms only have so much juice left in them after my pilates bootcamp class.
Finally, the fourth disadvantage was the unfamiliar territory of yeast – I think I successfully made one loaf of white sandwich bread years ago, after many failed attempts. When my yeast doesn’t “proof” or wake-up and get moving, I take it personally. I killed the yeast. I’m a bad, bad, bad person.
With all these listed to the side of the recipe as a last-ditch attempt, I made the decision to accept the challenge and forge through the rough terrain to see what happens in the end. Who knows- maybe it will actually work! (I didn’t have any other plans for the day anyway)
The first batch I threw into the garbage disposal because it was a watery mess, only to realize through the second batch that I just converted the flour in ounces to cup wrong. For the second batch, I actually made up two yeast packages, for when one of them didn’t work. I felt like a scientist! I had the thermometer out measuring the temperature of the milk every 5 seconds until it was just right, blended the yeast in, and watched it grow a few inches from my face. I also learned from the first batch that if you’re using yeast and other liquid ingredients, the “others” need to be the same temperature so that the yeast doesn’t die when added in. For example, if the dough calls for 3 eggs, make sure they are room temperature, which can take a few hours. The same for butter. That means if you want to make homemade bread, you must plan ahead of time.
By the time everything was alive and growing, the adventure had been 2 hours in and was just getting started. I poured the dough into a bowl, covered, and let it rise while enjoying our Sunday evening together. The only thing that worried me was the dough was less of a doughy “mass” and more of a doughy “mess”. But it was still rising, so we decided to go through with it and see what surprise will be waiting for us. Before going to bed I put it in the fridge and silently prayed that it would be “something” I could bake in the morning.
7Am. All is well.
I divided it up into 8 balls, placed in baking dish, and let it rise. AGAIN. This bread needs a lot of lovin’!
Two hours later it had risen, and off to the oven it goes. The egg wash on top gives a very nice golden color and after a short 16 minutes of baking, the internal temp was spot on 205 degrees and the coloring deepened very nicely. My only hesitation was it hadn’t risen very much in the first few minutes being in the oven. It was far from Martha’s pretty loaf. But it was looking good inside; moist, fluffy, and buttery.
Having never tasted Brioche before, I didn’t know what to expect. There was a very prominent “yeasty” flavor – almost salty. However, with a little butter & jam, you couldn’t tell! I think it’s safe to say that I cooked a Brioche loaf!
Recipe from here.