17 May 2010
Brioche... My Nemesis. Part II
Since my less-than-stellar attempt to make brioche a couple of weekends ago, I have moved on to a couple of other more successful recipes. I soothed my bruised ego with a batch of good ol' back-to-basics Chocolate Chip Cookies, put together a pretty decent Bread Pudding from the least disastrous batch of brioche, and padded down memory lane with some paw-printed Macarons for my May Mactweets challenge. All of these have helped to boost my confidence and fade the memory of defeat just enough to make it possible for me to head back into battle once more.
As you may remember, I attempted three batches of brioche, from two different recipes - one of which that had omitted one very necessary ingredient: MILK. The second recipe had all the ingredients listed, but it was still a bust - unless you like warty hunks of unmixed dough in your brioche, and I'm suspecting you don't. For attempt #4 I decided to go with yet another recipe for this pesky little dough, and I am pleased to say - SUCCESS! This dough turned out tender and buttery and exactly the way I wanted. Whew! I can finally check this one off my list!
I again read through the recipe a full three times before starting - once bitten, twice shy, you could say. It all looked very simple and straightforward, and wildly different from the other two recipes I had failed with before. As far as I could tell, this was a good sign. I should mention I had also decided it was time to consult the fine folks at Cook's Illustrated for some extra insurance - their recipes never seem to fail for me, and thankfully this was no exception.
Once the dough was behaving properly, I improvised and used it to make some lovely cinnamon rolls for my mum. She loves cinnamon buns, and I like baking treats for my mum, no special occasion necessary. I made a spread from unsalted butter, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg, along with some vanilla and salt to polish up the flavours a bit. For a contrast of texture, I toasted & chopped up some lovely fresh walnuts and sprinkled them over top of the cinnamon-sugar-butter spread out on the rolled out dough. Then it was a simple matter of rolling it all up, slicing into rolls and tucking them into the pans. Left to their own devices for an hour, they were plump and puffy and all cuddled up to one another, and ready for their trip to the oven. Breathing a huge sigh of relief at having finally won the Battle of the Brioche, I tidied up the kitchen while enjoying the warm, spicy smells from the oven. Thankfully, once they were done baking, they didn't take too much time cooling down to a temperature that hubby and I could enjoy a taste without scalding the roofs of our mouths.
These cinnamon brioche rolls tasted wonderful - as good as I could have hoped for. I'm sure they would still have been good had I not struggled my way through 3 botched batches before this one, but I was certainly savouring them so much more after all the hard work I put into them.
So, for those of you who haven't been completely scared off by my initial defeats, I hope you will give this recipe a try. It's pretty easy, and a much quicker recipe than the first three. Most importantly - it actually lists all of the ingredients you need to make it.
Quick Cinnamon Brioche Rolls
(adapted form Cook's Illustrated)
makes 12 rolls
2 1/2 tsp (1 envelope) dry active yeast
1/2 Cup (120ml) whole milk, warmed to approximately 110˚F
2 1/4 Cups (320g) all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp (90g) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp (45g) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 Cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 Cup (100g) dark brown sugar
1 tsp (5g) cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
1 Cup (75g) walnuts
Begin by making the sponge: in a small bowl, whisk together the yeast and the milk, then stir in 1 Cup (142g) of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a draft-free area.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine butter, sugar and salt until well blended and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, processing after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the workbowl and process again for several seconds until well blended. Don't worry if the mixture looks curdled at this point. Add the remaining 1 1/4 Cups (178g) of flour and process in 1-second pulses until thoroughly combined. Finally, add in the sponge, and pulse again until a smooth dough forms. Then process continuously for 15 seconds. The dough will be quite sticky at this point.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and gently knead until smooth and elastic. Form into a smooth, round ball and place in a large, buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a slightly damp towel and let the dough rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a small bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, spices, salt and vanilla, and whisk until fluffy. In a saute pan over medium heat, toast the walnuts, being careful not to let them burn. The nuts are done when they are fragrant and lightly toasted. Immediately remove the nuts from the pan, onto a chopping board and allow them to cool slightly. Finely chop the walnuts, and set aside. Generously butter a 9x13 baking pan and set aside.
Once the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto generously floured surface. Gently knead the dough and roll it out into a large rectangle, roughly 12 inches x 18 inches. Spread the cinnamon butter mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about 1 inch of dough along the top, so the roll can be sealed. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the butter spread and gently press the nuts into the mixture. Gently roll up the dough until you are close to the clean edge of the dough. Using your fingers and cold water and wet the clean edge of the dough, then finish rolling up the dough, and pinch along the seam to create a seal. Using very gentle pressure and a serrated knife, cut the dough log in half, and then cut each half into half again. Finally, cut each section into three rolls, and place each pice, cut side up, into the buttered baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap or a lightly damp towel and allow to rise for about 45-60 minutes.
Move oven rack to the centre position and preheat oven to 350˚F. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 180˚F when inserted into the centre of the pan. Turn pan upside down onto a service plate and immediately remove the baking pan. Allow the rolls to cool for 5-10 minutes before devouring.