custom cakes/cookies

Monday, June 7, 2010

Brioche Baguettes with Jefferson Market Nostalgia

Do you remember Jefferson Market the way it used to be when Jean Henry owned it? If you do, consider yourself lucky. Sadly, it changed ownership before my arrival to Ann Arbor. My friends talk fondly of this popular bakery shop in its heyday. It was a favorite neighborhood hangout: a good location to run into friends, catch up on weekend gossip, and eat amazing pastries while lounging in the adjacent garden.

One fond memory involved eating brioche baguettes, a brioche dough-based pastry filled with vanilla cream and chocolate chunks. Jean was kind enough to share her recipe with my baking friends. (A perk of living in a small town; someone always knows someone...) Last Saturday, while sharing a stellar brunch from items collected that morning at the farmers' market, Susie, Shana, Shannon, Elizabeth, Emily, and I made the baguettes with great success. Elizabeth beautifully documented the day in pictures, which can be viewed here.

If you're appetite is whetted, and you are interested in making these yourself, then read on...

For the Brioche:
link to recipe source
Makes about 2¼ pounds dough

The Sponge
⅓ cup warm whole milk (100 to 110° F)
1½ tsp instant yeast
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Put the milk, yeast, egg and 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Mix the ingredients together with a rubber spatula, mixing just until everything is blended. Sprinkle over the remaining cup of flour to cover the sponge.

The Rest
Set the sponge aside to rest uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes. After this resting time, the flour coating will crack, your indication that everything is moving along properly.

The Dough
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
1½ cups (approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge. Set the bowl into the mixer, attach the dough hook, and mix on low speed for a minute or two, just until the ingredients look as if they’re about to come together. Still mixing, sprinkle in ½ cup more flour.

When the flour is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 15 minutes, stopping to scrape down the hook and bowl as needed. During this mixing period, the dough should come together, wrap itself around the hook, and slap the sides of the bowl. If, after 7 to 10 minutes, you don’t have a cohesive, slapping dough, add up to 3 tablespoons more flour.

Continue to beat, giving the dough another full 15 minutes in the mixer – don’t skimp on the time; this is what will give the brioche its distinctive texture.

Be warned – your mixer will become extremely hot. Most heavy-duty mixers designed for making bread can handle this long beating, although if you plan to make successive batches of dough, you’ll have to let your machine cool down completely between batches.

Incorporating the butter
In order to incorporate the butter into the dough, you must work the butter until it is the same consistency as the dough. You can bash the butter into submission with a rolling pin or give it kinder and gentler handling by using a dough scraper to smear it bit by bit across a smooth work surface. When it’s ready, the butter will be smooth, soft, and still cool – not warm, oily or greasy. With the mixer on medium-low, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. This is the point at which you’ll think you’ve made a huge mistake, because the dough that you worked so hard to make smooth will fall apart – carry on.

When all of the butter has been added, raise the mixer speed to medium-high for a minute, then reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for about 5 minutes, or until you once again hear the dough slapping against the sides of the bowl. Clean the sides of the bowl frequently as you work; if it looks as though the dough is not coming together after 2 to 3 minutes, add up to 1 tablespoon more flour. When you’re finished, the dough should still feel somewhat cool. It will be soft and sticky and may cling slightly to the sides and bottom of the bowl.

The First Rise
Transfer the dough to a very large buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 to 2½ hours.

The Second Rise and Chilling
Deflate the dough by placing your fingers under it, lifting a section of the dough, and then letting it fall back into the bowl. Work your way around the circumference of the dough, lifting and releasing. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight, or for at least 4 to 6 hours, during which time it will continue to rise and may double in size again. After this long chill, the dough is ready to use in any brioche recipe. This recipe yields enough brioche dough for 3 têtes or 3 loaves.

If you are not going to use the dough after the second rise, deflate it, wrap it airtight, and store it in the freezer. The dough can remain frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw the dough, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight and use it directly from the refrigerator.

Putting It All Together:

1 recipe brioche dough
1 recipe vanilla pastry cream (see end of post for recipe)
8 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Roll out defrosted or freshly-made (2 rises and deflated) brioche dough into a rectangle about 12" x 18" x ¼" deep on a floured surface.

Spread a ⅛" layer of pastry cream across the top leaving a ½" clean on each 18" side. Sprinkle chocolate chunks, in an even layer on top of the pastry cream. Be sure to leave space between chocolate pieces as too many will make the dough difficult to cut.

Fold dough into thirds along the 18" side, sealing by pressing with fingers along the clean edge. This leaves a 6" x 18" piece of dough with filling inside.

Make baguettes by cutting along the 18" length every 1½" creating 9 or more rectangles depending on the length you rolled the dough. Place on a parchment covered sheet pan, with plenty of room for rising left between the baguettes.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Allow baguettes to rise at room temperature to double their size (about 30 minutes), then bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store at room temperature and consume within 12 hours of baking.

To freeze and serve up to one month later:
Freeze the filled and cut baguettes immediately (before rising) directly on the parchment-lined sheet tray for about 30 minutes. Once frozen, remove from tray and place in freezer-quality zipper storage bags. When ready to bake, remove as many baguettes as you'd like and place onto a parchment covered sheet tray. Allow the baguettes to fully defrost in the fridge overnight, then bring to room temperature, so that the baguettes rise to double their size. Bake as directed above.

Vanilla Pastry Cream
yield: ~1½ cups
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
2 TBS (16 g) cornstarch
¾ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 TBS (30 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Dissolve cornstarch in 2 TBS of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour a third of the boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking. Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla. Pour cream into a bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Just before using, whisk by hand until smooth.

1 comment:

the twins said...

those look delicious!