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

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