Tag Archive | Flour

Adventures with Broiche

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.

Final score: Irene, 1 and Me, 0

Remember how I adamantly tried to refocus your energy away from hurricane Irene to making salted caramel brownies this past weekend? Well, let’s just say that if you live in the Northeast, Irene certainly came out winning across the board.

Sniffle, Sniffle.

That’s right, the brownies failed.

Actually, if we are to continue being brutally honest with each other in our blogging relationship, I think I should admit I failed the brownies. It was a sad sight in the kitchen on Sunday and I am so happy no one was there to witness me waving the white towel of defeat.

As a disclaimer, I have never made homemade brownies. I know you are picking your jaw off the ground right now, but it is true. As a little girl I loved baking all the time, especially when it was our turn to bring treats for Sunday school. I reveled in all my glory as each of my fellow classmates swallowed my creations and went up for more. I loved getting compliments served with surprised expressions from the parents who didn’t want to believe I actually baked them and not my mom. The secret that I kept from them, a sin that I was making every time I made the treats for Sunday school of all places, was that they were all made from a box!! Yes!! I am confessing my sins after 20 years! Betty Crocker was my God in the kitchen each Saturday night!

I hope you won’t judge me.

God still loves me and you should too.

I will never, ever lie to you. I promise. I pinky swear.

Getting back to the salted caramel brownies… It all started with the “caramel” sauce. Before reading the directions, I assumed the caramel sauce was to made up of sugar and butter maybe? But no, it was evaporated milk, brown sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla, and butter.  I went along with it even though it tasted yucky and had a weird consistency. I made up the brownies according to the recipe, double checking it till I felt I was going crazy over a brownie recipe. In the oven they went. I set aside the caramel mixture with a little confidence and took the brownies out when they had slight brownie come out when I stuck a fork in it. That’s what the recipe said to do, so I did it. As the brownies cooled for 30 minutes, I made the chocolate mix to drizzle over the caramel at the end. That was a nightmare! Who would have thought that melting chocolate could be such a difficult thing to do? Not me. The issue I had was that when I melted the chocolate with evaporated milk, at 20 seconds it was creamy and consistent for drizzling, but then at 30 seconds it hardened and became a mushy, ugly, fowl looking mess. I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me!

Eventually the brownies cooled and I spread the caramel sauce over them and let it sit for 30 minutes. It was supposed to have hardened by then, but it was far from that. I let it set another 30 minutes and we had no improvements. The brilliant cook that I am, I decide to check the brownies and see if the caramel is soaking into them. I don’t know what chemical reactions were occurring, but now the brownies were gooey and gross. The oven went back on and I put them in (with the caramel on top) for 15 minutes. They looked awful, so I scraped the caramel (still a liquidy, soupy & goopy mess) into the sink and let the brownies cool.

The best part of this adventure was when my boyfriend tells me (2 days later) his views on my brownie-making. He says that as we were leaving to grab a bite one night, he lagged behind in the kitchen while I was in the car so he could sneak a chunk of brownies. Well, apparently they were hard as a rock and tasted so bad he spit them out and couldn’t tell me for 2 days!! Thanks Babe. I know you are looking forward to the boxed version this weekend, and that is O.K. I know you still support me learning to cook. I’m just glad it was you who tried them first and not my future boss 🙂

If you are feeling inclined to try the recipe and prove to me it wasn’t my fault, then by all means, go ahead. I support you 110%!!! But you have been warned!! Me, I have a lot practice before I can call myself a baker.

If you want to try how good the idea of salted caramel brownies are, Decadent Creations has a version that I initially fell in love with.

from Cooking Light magazine, Sept. 2011