Recipes You Should Make Before it’s Too Hot to Bake: Brioche

by Kelly on May 25, 2010

It seems like without fail there is always a week of unseasonably warm weather in April or May. I remember it fondly from college because it usually hit around study period. For the afternoon I’d abandon the air conditioned cave that was the library basement (my study location of choice because it was open 24 hours during finals and was always reliably quiet) and take my books to the BU Beach. This college spot was aptly named not because it was a real beach, but because the traffic off Storrow Drive, which separated this grassy hill from the Charles River, vaguely sounded like waves. I’d sit cross legged on my purple fleece blanket half studying, half soaking in the rays.

Even though I now live in Chicago and am far removed from my student days (as evidenced by the fact that the DePaul students in my neighborhood make me feel incredibly old and lame) I still relish those freakishly warm weekends. This time though my joy comes not from laying outside, but planning a baking project to beat the warm weather. Maybe it’s just me, but when I know steamy weather is on the way I like to sneak in a few baked goods before the heat kicks in and makes the idea of turning on the stove unbearable.

King Arthur Flour's Brioche

My recipe of choice was for Brioche. I landed on this lusciously soft bread because warm weather has me craving simpler food, like sandwiches, even though it’s often too warm to bake the homemade bread to make them special. Luckily before our highs of 80+ degrees kicked in I was able to sneak out one loaf. With its combo of butter and eggs this enriched dough is definitely on the indulgent side, but worth it for the special flavor and texture it imparts. Best of all, it freezes incredibly well so it’s worth it to bake and slice a loaf while the weather is still temperate to freeze away for warmer weather sandwiches.  I’m also thinking this dough would be fantastic in the form of buns for a nice veggie burger or hamburger.  Yum!

Brioche
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baking Companion
Yields one loaf, 12 slices

Ingredients:
-2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
-1/4 cup cool water (about 70 degrees F)
-4 large eggs, plus 1 yolk for glaze
-2 tablespoons sugar
-3/4 teaspoon sea salt
-1 cup (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter

Method:

Place 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the yeast, water, and whole eggs in a mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed, using the flat beater paddle, until smooth. Cover the mixture and let sit for 45 minutes. It will develop some bubbles, but not change a lot due to the thinness of the batter. However, the yeast is getting a head start.

Add the remaining flour, the sugar, and salt, and beat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough cleans the sides of the bowls and is shiny and elastic.

Sprinkle a work surface with a small palmful of flour (about 2 tablespoons of flour). Place the butter on the flour. Pound with the side of a rolling pin until it has become a cohesive rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Fold it over several times as you pound; it will become pliable without getting too warm or soft. Add it to the dough and beat until it is fully incorporated.

Cover the dough with a towel and let it rise in a warm room for an hour. It should be very soft and have risen about 1/3. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and fold it over several times. (Use a bench knife or dough scraper to scrape up any bits that stick to the table.) Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or up to 16). The dough will firm up considerably and be easier to work with.

Working quickly, shape the dough in a 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ high loaf pan. Cover the dough lightly and let it rise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until it is doubled and is crowded well over the top of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Beat the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and brush all exposed surfaces with the egg wash. (Try not to let any egg wash drip onto the edge of the pan as it will cause the bread to stick.) Cut four slashes in the top of the loaf.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until its internal temperature reads 190 degrees F and the top is golden brown. If you like a lighter crust, and I do, tent the bread with aluminum foil after 20 minutes of baking.

Remove the brioche from the oven and cool it in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn it out of the pan and let it cool completely on a rack. Slice the brioche when it is completely cool.

What about you? Are there any baked goods you’re dying to make before the weather gets too warm?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

CaSaundra May 25, 2010 at 8:27 am

I’ve recently been trying my hand at a lot more breads in the kitchen, just because yeast and I don’t always get along, but I’ve still decided to challenge myself! This looks great. And I don’t really stop baking when it gets hot out, I just crank the AC, as bad as that may sound!

Reply

Lauren May 25, 2010 at 9:46 am

Gorgeous loaf of brioche! I bet it’ll make for some delicious french toast.

I have a never-ending list of baked goods to make, and I’ll probably continue to chip away at it over the summer.

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brandi May 25, 2010 at 10:08 am

Can you believe I’ve never had brioche? I know. Tsk, tsk.

I need to make some more bread and baked things before it gets too hot, too. Including a few cakes if I can remember!

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sophia May 25, 2010 at 11:09 am

I’ve always been so intimidated by brioche…they sound hard to make! I didn’t know that they freeze well…I’ll try this sometime!

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momgateway May 25, 2010 at 1:46 pm

toasted brioche with butter and jam is my dad’s fave breakfast…will try this soon

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Erin May 25, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Lovely loaf! I foresee a round of very decadent French Toast in your future.

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Juliana May 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Oh! I love brioche I haven’t tried this recipe yet…it sure looks yummie. I love to make French toast with brioche 😉

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Reeni May 25, 2010 at 6:28 pm

What a lovely loaf of brioche! Made me crave french toast. I have a whole list of stuff that I want to bake. During the summer I sometimes stay up and bake really late at night – that way by time I wake up the kitchen has cooled off.

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Shannon May 25, 2010 at 10:23 pm

it’s totally too hot to bake right now. i don’t even know what i’m going to eat for lunch tomorrow… i’m thinking hummus and a smoothie 🙂 this loaf looks amazing!!

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The Duo Dishes May 26, 2010 at 1:52 am

Let’s hope you have french toast on the menu soon. Or maybe some sweet croutons for soup?

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5 Star Foodie May 26, 2010 at 9:58 am

Yum! A freshly baked brioche sounds absolutely wonderful!

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Sophie @ yumventures May 26, 2010 at 11:43 pm

There is nothing like homemade bread. You are a master baker

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Esi May 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Surprisingly it’s cold and rainy in southern California…perfect weather to bake! Great looking bread.

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Meghann June 2, 2010 at 1:37 pm

This looks fantastic. Highs are in the 90s here today, but that is what central air is for. I have never tried making brioche before, but I am attempting it today. Thanks for the recipe!

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