Brioche recipe by Dominique Crenn

Basque Culinary World Prize

Brioche recipe by Dominique Crenn

Like pumpernickel, brioche dates back to the fifteenth century, but unlike pumpernickel, brioche was a huge part of my childhood, in one form or another. Brioche may be baked into a variety of shapes, from brioche à tête, which is shaped like a fluted muffin topped with a smaller ball of dough, to Juan’s spiced brioche, which is baked in a loaf pan, to brioche feuilletée, which is laminated with layers of butter, like a croissant. In this recipe, the butter layering is optional, and therefore, the amount of time in the oven is variable. But as my friend and baking guide Mehdi Boudiab points out, home ovens are hardly ever calibrated correctly, so it is always important to watch for browning when making a recipe for the first time.

Whatever the form, the essence of brioche is its beautifully fluffy crumb, which makes it perfect for making dehydrated squid ink brioche in our Beef Carpaccio. We also serve slices of brioche and butter immediately before presenting our Lobster Bisque, so that guests have a chance to enjoy the brioche on its own terms before tasting it in relation to the soup.

Makes 36 muffin-size brioche or 3 full-size loaves

BRIOCHE is excerpted from ATELIER CRENN :copyright: 2015 by Dominique Crenn. Photography :copyright: 2015 by Ed Anderson. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Ingredients

  • 1 kilogram (8¾ cups plus 1½ tablespoons) pastry flour, plus more for dusting
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) unsalted butter, plus 300 grams (10.6 ounces) cold unsalted butter for layering, if desired
  • 150 grams (⅔ cup) beaten eggs (from 3 to 4 eggs)
  • 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 30 grams (2½ tablespoons) active dry yeast
  • 18 grams (1¼ tablespoons) fine sea salt, plus more for the egg wash
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60 grams (¼ cup) whole milk
  • Equipment
  • Stand mixer with dough hook attachment
  • Rolling pin (optional)
  • Brioche molds or loaf pans (optional)
  • Silicone basting brush
  • Wire rack

Method

One day before baking:
• TO MAKE THE LIQUID LEVAIN: In a large storage container, combine the pastry flour and 130 grams (½ cup plus 2½ teaspoons) water and mix well. Cover tightly and let sit in a warm place until approximately tripled in bulk, 16 to 27 hours.
The day of baking:
• Set 200 grams (7 ounces) of the butter aside at room temperature to soften.
• In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the liquid levain with 200 grams (¾ cup plus 1½ tablespoons) water, the eggs, sugar, yeast, and fine sea salt. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Raise the mixer speed to medium and mix for 4 minutes. Add the 200 grams (7 ounces) of softened butter and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
• Turn off the mixer and cover the bowl with a clean, dry towel. Let sit at 25°C/77°F for 30 minutes.
• TO LAMINATE THE DOUGH TO MAKE BRIOCHE FEUILLETÉE, IF DESIRED: On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to shape the dough into a ½-inch-thick square. Stretch a large piece of plastic wrap on a flat work surface and place the remaining 300 grams (10.6 ounces) cold butter in the center. Cover the butter with a second layer of plastic wrap. Beat the butter with a rolling pin to flatten the butter. Use the rolling pin to roll the butter into a flat rectangle, as long as the dough on one side and half the size of the dough on the other. Unwrap the butter and place it on the dough in the center. Fold the ends of the dough over the butter so that they meet in a seam in the middle. Stretch the dough and fold again at the seam to make a double fold.
• Cover the dough (laminated or not) with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
• Butter 36 brioche molds (for brioche feuilletée or brioche à tête) or 3 loaf pans.
• TO SHAPE THE DOUGH FOR BRIOCHE FEUILLETÉE, IF DESIRED: Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into a rectangle ½ inch thick. Cut the rectangle into 2-inch-wide strips and roll the strips into spirals. Place the spirals in the buttered brioche molds with the coil showing at the top. Alternatively, shape the dough into brioche croissants or any shape appropriate to laminated dough.
• TO SHAPE THE DOUGH FOR LOAVES: Split the dough into 3 equal balls. Split each ball into 8 round balls and arrange them in the buttered loaf pans in 2 x 4-ball grids.
• TO MAKE THE EGG WASH: In a medium bowl, beat the whole eggs and egg yolk. Add the milk and a pinch of salt.
• Use a silicone basting brush to wash the tops of the dough with the egg wash.
• TO PROOF: Cover the brioche molds or loaf pans with a damp kitchen towel and let sit at 26°C/81°F until risen, 2 to 2½ hours.
• Preheat the oven to 180°C/355°F.
• Bake until golden brown, watching closely to prevent burning, for 20 to 25 minutes.
• Allow the brioche to cool in the molds or loaf pans for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

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