Monday, April 17, 2017

Cranberry Orange Brioche

© 2017 Edward C. Kern, Jr.
I decided in the absence of finding my old brioche recipe, I would check out recipes in my more recently acquired cookbooks. How to Cook Everything has an easy looking brioche recipe and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, an intriguing recipe for Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels.

Using ideas from both, here is the recipe I used this Easter:

In a small bowl wisk together until the yeast has dissolved:

1/3 c milk
1 t instant yeast

(I tried using a fork first but found I really needed to use a whisk to dissolve the yeast).

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment [Smitten Kitchen uses paddle; my engineer son says paddle is not designed for dough --- see * below] place:

9.8 oz (2 1/4 c) flour
2 T sugar
1/2 t salt

Add the yeast mixture and:

2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

Mix at at low speed  until the dough comes together in a shaggy pile then turn to medium speed and beat for 10 minutes. [Then switch to the dough hook --- if you are using padddle and your mixer hasn't died] and knead  until a smooth dough forms, another 5 minutes.*
Then add:

8T (1 stick) butter, cut in small slices, at room temperature and continue mixing until a smooth dough forms.

Then add:

1 c dried cranberries
Zest of 1 organic orange

Continue mixing until cranberries and zest are well distributed in the dough.

Turn into a large, well buttered dish, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 2-3 hours until doubled in bulk.  Turn onto a floured board and divide dough into thirds, Roll into three long cylindrical strips and braid. Flatten and shape the loaf then let it rise for about an hour.

Brush with a glaze made of:

1 egg
1 t water

Bake in a 400 degree over for about 1/2 hour. Check after 15-20 minutes,and if the brioche is getting too brown, cover the top with foil. When done the bottom of the brioche when tapped, should sound hollow.

Despite the disruptions in intended technique (see below), the brioche came out well and was shared with Alex and her family Easter morning.  It's the third generation (Henry despite all the chocolate eggs he had already eaten, enjoyed a big slice and part of a colored hard boiled egg before negotiating for another chocolate egg) restart of a tradition and the recipe will no doubt be tested and tweeked before next Easter

© 2017 Edward C. Kern, Jr.
* Full disclosure: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook starts out using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment at slow speed until the dough becomes a "shaggy pile".  It then directs the speed be raised to medium and the mixture beaten for ten minutes --- "the long mixing time creates the soft, stretchy strands brioche is known for" (page 18).  It then directs a switch to the dough hook for the remainder of the recipe. This is the technique I had intended to use. However, my mixer lasted about two minutes into the long mixing time then crashed (fourth photo from top). Time to improvise. I kneaded by hand for a while though maybe not a full 8 additional minutes then tried not so successfully to knead in the butter by hand. I then switched to my food processor fitted with the dough blade.

Ms. Perelman notes: "Unfortunately I find this to be the rare bread dough that's radically easier to make with a stand mixer. Nevertheless, should you feel up for the challenge, you can vigorously "knead" the dough in a large bowl with a wooden spoon for a good 10 minutes before adding the butter. Yes this takes longer than your average bread dough, but that long kneading time is what yields the long stretchy strands essential to great brioche" (page 18).  Well good brioche this time --- great, I hope, after my mixer gets fixed.

Although in my hurried improvision, I used the dough blade, it turns out the metal blade may in fact be better for bread. This is in fact what Mark Bittman recommends in his recipe for Brioche (page 232) in  How to Cook Everything.  The difference is he adds the yeast with the dry ingredients, processes for 5 seconds. Adds cold butter and eggs and processes for 10 seconds, then with the machine running adds the liquid (in his case both milk and water). He then adjusts with water/flour to get the dough to the right consistnecy.  Using 4 c (18 ounces) of flour his recipe makes about twice the dough as the recipe above.

Reviewed 5/8/17

Looking for a Recipe --- Easter Brioche

The virtues of being a messy cook..... The main purpose of this blog is to organize family recipes, particularly those associated with a special occasion. Alex called a few days ago, surprised the recipe for the "brioche" I used to serve on Easter was not on my blog and asked if I could find it. We haven't had a family Easter morning in many years and it is too buttery a loaf for just Ed and me so I hadn't made the bread in a long time. Even so, I was pretty sure I could find this recipe. Among other things, I kept lists of favorite recipes at the start of each section in my old paper notebook. Oops, no "Brioche" under BREAD.
I thought it was in one of my New York Times cookbooks, but checking all three, I found two brioche recipes ("American" and "French") but both were spotless, no notes, no spilled ingredients and no lingering bookmark.  Very unusual for a recipe I had made so often.  Both recipes called for refrigerating the dough overnight and the "French" recipe called for placing the dough in a bowl, covering with lukewarm water, and letting rise until the ball floats in the water.  I don't remember either technique.

The brioche recipe in The Silver Palate Cookbook was also suspiciously clean, but if I had compared recipes I probably would have chosen it because it used less butter, eggs and sugar than the Times recipes.  None of the recipes suggest braiding the brioche, rather baking in muffin tins or brioche molds (with a top knot of dough), or in loaf pans. Then  I realized I had not checked  The Art of French Cooking. No brioche. In fact I was surprised to find the only entries under bread are "preparation of" (as in cutting off the crusts and making toasted bread cases), "crumbs", "croutes", and "rounds". Viva la Boulangerie!

Photos top to bottom 1994, 1995, 1996
There is always the possibility I used the Christmas Stollen recipe. This recipe is covered with ingredients and notes, for many years I've made this just using raisins (not candied fruit) and the Easter "Brioche" does contain raisins (something lacking in all of the above mentioned brioche recipes).  I checked all my paper recipe collections but am going to keep looking for the recipe with the tell-tale spills and notes (like add raisins, braid). Meanwhile Alex may find her own recipe and I'll add a new potentially traditional recipe to Cook's Cache.

Reviewed 5/8/17