Thursday, April 10, 2008

Brioche Beautiful Part 1

Dorie Greenspan is a delight. I had the incredible good fortune of meeting her recently at The Greenbrier. In fact, I had the funny and near-silly experience of sharing a bar of Vosges Chocolate Bacon bar with her. Picture about 10 avid food writers, food literature readers, food magazine editors...I think it was Dorie who did the honors of breaking it into pieces for everyone to experience. It was passed around the table like a communion plate. We all took a shard of chocolate...Then someone read the near zen-like instructions from Vosges on how to enjoy the chocolate...At one point we all had our eyes sounds were being made...and then you couldn't keep us quiet...because of COURSE we all had opinions. (For the record, we didn't like the chewy texture of the bacon left in our mouths when we let the chocolate melt first...some of us liked it more when we chewed right into it, releasing salty, smoky, sweet all at once...)

But this post isn't about the chocolate. It's about my discovery: Dorie's Brioche. I got the lowdown from the insiders: The Brioche is to die for. And the sticky pecan buns--to die for a second time...So when my signed copy of Dorie's Baking: From My Home to Yours arrived in the mail (no way I was dragging those pounds and pounds of books home on the plane...), I had to get started on the brioche.

I knew enough that the process would be easier if I made the dough the day before...Clever me: I'll throw it together at 10 PM and get it right into the fridge. Mmmhmmm.

Like any bread, the ingredient list is short. Yeast, water, milk, flour, salt, sugar, eggs and butter. Lots of butter. But it is lovely. Once again, Kitchenaid comes to the rescue. When discussing this with Dorie, her first question was: Do you have a mixer? Apparently her first experience was with this dough, a wooden spoon and her aching shoulders. At any rate, it starts as an ugly, mealy dough.

Then the eggs go in and it looks a bit better. And then you start beating the butter in, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Here's me holding the mixer to keep it from walking itself off the counter as it works that dough...
When all is said and done, you are left with a glossy, silken mass of dough.
It is gorgeous (I happily had about 1/2 pound of lovely, yellow Irish butter on my counter to use here...)

Oh, back to my cleverness...First punch down: after one hour. Then every 30 minutes or so FOR THE NEXT TWO HOURS. Until it stops rising. And THEN you get to go to bed...I mean and THEN you get to put it in the fridge (and go to bed...)

It will be a late night...This last shot is of the dough rising on the back porch, where it's warmer.
Just did the first punch down..The dough is just so nice to touch...Do you think anyone else is out on her balcony punching down brioche dough? Now it's 12.43 a.m. Do you know where your brioche is?


Anonymous said...

Ha! I put the bacon bars in my kids' Christmas stockings this year. I can just imagine the Greenbrier conversation!

Jen said...

Wow, I love your silky dough picture! (and the image of you pounding your brioche dough down in the middle of the night on your back porch - I had a good laugh at that!)