Tag Archives: bread

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

How did we get to the middle of January already? Wasn’t Christmas just yesterday? The month is flying by and I can’t believe it has been two weeks since my last post. Oops. I have no good excuse, really, other than, where did January go? Wait, I already asked that question. Oh, and I was going to post my birthday cake, but well, it was a bit of a disaster. My cake, that is, not my birthday. I had a great birthday and ended up just buying a cake. Shock, I know!

This bread, rosemary olive oil, is definitely one of my favorites. I first learned the recipe back in culinary school and it has become a staple in my house. It’s great for burgers (I prefer black bean), great just dipped in olive oil (with a glass of wine and cheese), great with pasta and salad. Don’t forget breakfast…slather a little butter and you have the perfect companion for your eggs. It’s a one stop shop!  And, it freezes and reheats beautifully. It has a crusty exterior and a pillowy interior. It works great as rolls and great as a loaf. It can all be made in one day since the starter only needs three hours. You can mix up the herbs if you don’t have (or like) rosemary.

The recipe comes from DiMuzio’s Bread Baking: An Artisan’s Perspective. It was the book we used in culinary school and I continue to use it for reference and my favorite recipes. It has the history of bread baking, important techniques, and so many great recipes. It doesn’t have a lot of pretty pictures and sometimes reads like a textbook, but I still find it incredibly useful.

One Year Ago: Macarons

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

From DiMuzio

Yield: About 18 rolls or two small loaves

Time: Hands on 1 hour | Total 8+ hours

Difficulty: Medium

Starter (Old Dough)

  • Bread Flour 250 g (8.5 oz)
  • Water (room temp) 170 g (5.8 oz)
  • Salt 5 g (0.2 oz)
  • Instant Yeast 2 g (pinch)

To make the old dough, scale out all the ingredients and knead lightly until combined. It will not be smooth. Just knead until it is all combined and starts to get slightly sticky. Let rest for three hours at room temperature or let rest one hour at room temperature and refrigerate overnight.

Dough

  • Bread Flour 750 g (1 lb 9.5 oz)
  • Water 510 g (1 lb 1.3 oz)*
  • EVOO 40 g (1.4 oz)
  • Rosemary leaves, chopped 5 g (0.2 oz)**
  • Salt 15 g (0.5 oz)
  • Instant Yeast 5 g (0.2 oz)
  • All of Old Dough

*If it is humid, add less water. Start with 450 g. If it looks dry in the mixing bowl after a couple minutes of mixing, lightly spritz with additional water.

**Any herbs can be used. Dried will work too.

1. Scale all of your ingredients into a mixing bowl and attach the dough hook. It helps to put the ingredients in the bowl in this order: starter, liquid, dry. That’s usually the case with most bread recipes because it helps the mixing process. If you don’t put everything in this order, don’t worry, it will still work but may take a bit longer.

2. Turn your mixer to speed 1 and set the timer for 5 minutes (clean up stage). Watch the dough carefully and spritz water if it is looking too dry. After 5 minutes, increase to speed 2 for 3 to 5 minutes. If the dough is still looking a little droopy and not well formed, mix for another minute or two.

3. Pour the dough into a lightly oiled proofing bowl. Perform one stretch and fold. Set the timer for 30 minutes and then perform another stretch and fold. At this point the dough should be fairly strong, but will need to proof awhile longer. If it is still not strong, perform one more stretch and fold after 30 minutes. It took my dough 90 minutes and my house is about 68 degrees. It will double, or come close to doubling.

This is what it looks like after the first rise:

At this point you can either divide the dough in half and make two loaves, or make rolls. Trying to describe how to shape bread in words is not easy and I’m likely to confuse you. So once again, I’m sending you to Ciril Hitz. This particular video shows numerous shaping techniques.

How to Shape Bread

If you are short on time, making round loaves is by far the fastest way to go. Rolls are easier to reheat individually, but take longer to shape.

Here’s my rolls before rising. I did 90 g per roll.

And after rising:

I probably could have let them rise a bit longer, but it was getting late and with my cold house, it was going to take awhile!

The oven temperature will depend on what you are making. For rolls, preheat the oven to 425F. For loaves, 350F. Score the bread before baking. My hubby does the scoring in the house and he made “x” on each roll. For loaves you could do the same. It doesn’t really matter just as long as you score. Spray with water when you put in the oven to help them brown. You can also dust lightly with flour if you desire for a more rustic look. Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes, rotating and spraying once more with water at the halfway point. Loaves will take around 30 minutes, but be sure to check the internal temperature. It should read at least 180F.

I hope this bread becomes a favorite of yours too! Enjoy!

As usual, check out Yeast Spotting for more bread recipes and tips!

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Baby It’s Cold Outside – Focaccia & Soup

Happy New Year! It’s been cold here the past few days, down in the 20s at night. And since I’ve been in warm environments for the past eight years that is darn cold to me. But I was born and raised in the frigid state of North Dakota, so people are shocked to find that I’m from there and actually get cold (and also because I’ve lost all traces of my Northern accent. Seen the movie Fargo? Yup, that’s how they talk).  In my defense, I was not a very good North Dakota girl. Up there people will start leaving their coats at home when the temperatures rise, yes rise, to the 30s. I was still bundled up. People start wearing shorts when the temperatures hit 50, meanwhile I was still wearing my warmest sweaters. So I was never very good at being a North Dakotan.

And now when I’m cold the first thing I do is make some hot soup. And you can’t have soup without bread right? As part of my New Years goals I want to blog about bread more. It’s easier than you think and can easily be worked into a busy schedule. I know lots of people are starting their “eat healthy” New Years Resolutions, many which will die in a matter of weeks, and may be cutting out bread entirely. I long ago quit trying to lose weight by cutting out the things I love. I love bread and I love desserts so any diet not involving those will fail. So instead I eat some every day. But not a lot, just normal serving sizes (with the holiday period excluded, of course; all willpower is out the door). It works for me and I hope it can work for you too.

Focaccia is a great bread for beginners because there is no shaping involved. Unfortunately it is not a bread that you can just leave alone for hours; it does require a minute (literally) of your attention every 30 minutes for about 2 hours. But total hands on is about 45 minutes. Basically you just have to be home.

This recipe is from Ciril Hitz: Baking Artisan Bread. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to make bread. Lots of pictures and very clear step by step instructions. And it comes with a DVD with videos on shaping, which is also quite helpful for a new bread bakers.

Focaccia is a very versatile bread. You can keep it simple and just sprinkle with salt & pepper. You can do what I did and put caramelized onions and cheese on it. You can use it to make a sandwich or just dip it in olive oil. And no one can resist the light and airy texture, so perfect for dipping in soup.

A couple of tips on bread making: a scale is not necessary but will give you better results. And it is much easier. All of my bread recipes use instant yeast, which is different from the active dry yeast found in grocery stores. Instant yeast requires no proofing. You just throw it in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and away you go. I find it much more convenient and cheaper. You can find it at Sam’s Club or at King Arthur Flour. That 16 oz bag lasts me a year stored in the freezer, so you can see how much more affordable it is compared to active dry. And really, who wants to sit around waiting for yeast to proof?

And the most important tip yet: use good flour. You know I use King Arthur. In the summer I can get a local flour at the farmers market which also works great. Stay away from store brands and anything bleached. Also, bread flour will give you the best results but if you can’t find bread flour AP will work, just expect it to be less chewy.

Enough chit chatting, let’s make some bread!

Focaccia by Ciril Hitz

Yield: One half sheet pan of delicious bread

Time: Less than one hour total hands on/20 hours including rising time

Difficulty: Medium

Starter (Poolish, which is equal parts water and flour to make for a very wet starter)

  • 330 g (11.6 oz) (2 1/2 cups) Bread flour
  • 330 g (11.6 oz) (1 1/2 cups) Water, room temp
  • Pinch of Instant Yeast

The day before make your starter by putting all ingredients in a medium bowl and stirring until you have a sloppy dough. It will be very wet and look like this:

Cover and let rest overnight for about 16 hours. After resting it will look like this, all bubbly and ready to use:

When your poolish is ready, gather the remaining ingredients:

  • 613 g (1 lb + 5.6 oz) (4 1/2 cups + 2 TB) Bread Flour*
  • 405 g (14.3 oz) (1 3/4 cups) Water at 104F**
  • 2.6 g (0.09 oz) (7/8 tsp) Instant Yeast
  • 18 g (0.6 oz) (3 1/2 tsp) Sea Salt
  • All of the Poolish

*I used 413 grams of Bread Flour and 200 grams of KAF Italian Style Flour, which has a very low protein content. I wanted the chewiness of the bread flour, but also wanted an light bread. I’m guessing you aren’t like me though and don’t have five six seven different kinds of flour in your pantry, so if you want to mix it up use both bread flour and AP flour.

**If you are making this bread in the summer time in a warm kitchen lower the temperature to about 80 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, first, get one, and until then just use your finger. If it feels hot, it probably is and will kill your yeast. Better to go with cooler water than warmer water. It will just take your bread longer to rise.

Place all ingredients into your mixing bowl. (Since this is such a wet dough, it’s really hard to do by hand. You can though, just use a wooden spoon to stir or a dough whisk.) Using a dough hook, turn the mixer speed to low and mix for six minutes, stopping every two minutes to scrape the bowl. If you don’t scrape the bowl you will have blobs of flour that didn’t get mixed.

After it is done mixing it will look like this:

There’s really no structure yet at all since it is a wet dough. We’ll fix that though with multiple stretch and folds. I tried to take a picture of myself doing stretch of folds which was nothing short of disastrous, and instead found this video of Ciril Hitz doing a stretch and fold, as well as explaining the purpose.

Stretch and Fold

He’s using baguette dough which is much stronger than focaccia, but it serves the same purpose. The first stretch and fold you do will be quite difficult so don’t fret. Just do the best you can and know that the dough will get stronger.

So after mixing, scrape all the dough into a bowl (or I suppose you could just leave it in the mixing bowl) for rising and do a stretch and fold. Since this is a sticky, wet dough, it helps to dampen your hands with a bit of water first. It will look like this:

Then set your timer for 30 minutes. Do another stretch and fold. It won’t rise much and will look like this:

You can see it is starting to bubble. Set your timer for another 30 minutes and then perform another stretch and fold. It will then look like this:

You should notice the dough getting stronger and easier to stretch at this point. Set your timer for another 30 minutes and then the final stretch and fold for a total of four including the first one right out of the mixing bowl.

More bubbles! Set your timer again for 30 minutes for the final resting before transferring to a pan. Look at all those bubbles! And you can see it pretty much doubled in size. That may not always be the case though. The signs that your bread is ready: dough should be noticeably stronger than when you first finished mixing.

At this point, prepare a half sheet pan with parchment and olive oil. Alternately, you can use round cake pans. Ten inch work best and you’ll have to divide the dough in half.

Dump all the dough onto your prepared pan:

Now we are going to gently stretch the dough so it fills the pan. Put some olive oil on your hands and “…spread your fingers apart like a pianist” (Ciril Hitz) and gentle stretch the dough by dimpling with it with your fingers. It will not stretch all the way the first time and will look like this:

At this point, preheat your oven to 450F. Set your timer for 10 minutes. If you are going to add toppings, add them on the second stretch, with the exception of cheese. The cheese is added during baking to prevent it from burning. I added onions but well, forgot to add them at this point. But you won’t do that, right? Right. This is what it looks like after the second stretch:

You can see it is almost filling up the pan now! Set your timer for another 10 minutes, then come back for the final stretch. It should now fill up the pan and look like this:

Looking yummy, huh? Let rest for another 15 minutes before baking. Then bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until golden. If you are adding cheese, add after about 20 minutes of baking.

The final product:

Delicious, huh? It really is as good as it looks. Try to let it cool for 30 minutes before slicing. That will be hard though!

For the soup, I used this recipe for a guide: Tomato Soup but am out of celery and carrots. Sheesh, guess I need to head to the store!

I hope you enjoyed making focaccia. The possibilities are endless with this bread. Enjoy!

Check out Yeast Spotting for more bread tips and recipes!

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Daring Bakers December Challenge: Sourdough Bread

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create sourdough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with sourdough recipes from Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley as well as delicious recipes to use our sourdough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

I’m not new to baking bread. In fact, we haven’t bought bread in about two years because I’ve been making our bread exclusively. I know, I know, I hardly ever post bread on here. That’s because making bread is second nature to me now. It’s part of my daily routine. But my New Year’s Resolution is to blog all my favorite bread recipes in January and February. And I’ll give you plenty of tips so that you too can start making bread on a regular basis.

This recipe, however, is messy, not easy to work with, and terrible to shape. All that is fine for an experienced bread maker, but may be frustrating for a new bread maker. It was frustrating for me! It does taste good, but not like sourdough that you are probably accustomed to.

The good thing about this bread is the crumb structure. You’ll notice how light and airy it is. That’s because this is an extremely wet dough! Almost as wet as ciabatta, which is also very light and airy.

I did not make this bread by hand, but used the dough hook instead. It’s much easier to make bread that way and I especially recommend it for this dough. It will make your life easier!

This is a minimum of a five day process, though very little actual hands on. My starter took much longer since it is quite cool in my house right now. I gave my starter almost two weeks to get going, at first feeding daily (and quite appalled at the initial smell, so much so that I almost threw it out), then every couple of days as it started to grow and bubble. It won’t smell tangy since it is a new starter, but it should bubble and start to smell yeasty.

Read through the entire procedure before starting. And if you are new to bread making, don’t be afraid to try it. It is challenging, but pretty hard to screw up. The biggest rule is to use quality flour. Using good quality flour is always important, but it makes the biggest difference with bread. I once used cheap flour for pizza dough and the recipe completely failed. Switched to a good bread flour and I had perfect pizza. So skip store brands and go for unbleached flour and good wheat flour.

Country Wheat Bread

Day 1

  • 4.5 TB (40 gr/ 1.5 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 3 TB water

In a medium sized storage container, mix the flour and water into a paste. Cover and set aside in a warm place.

Day 2

  • 4.5 TB (40 gr/ 1.5 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 3 TB water

Mix flour and water into previous days mixture. Cover and return to warm place.

Day 3

  • 4.5 TB (40 gr/1.5 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp water

Mix flour and water into previous days mixture. Cover and return to warm place.

Day 4

  • 3/4 cup plus 1½ tablespoons (120 gm/4.25 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup less 4 teaspoons (100 ml) water

Mix flour and water into mixture. At this point it will hopefully be bubbling and starting to smell pleasant. Mine was not at this point and I almost threw it out because I did not like the smell. I continued this step for several more days and it was bubbly and smelling yeasty, so I think it was the wheat flour that gave a different smell than what I’m used to. I’ve never used a wheat starter before. After about 3 days of feeding with white flour, I started feeding every other day and reduced to 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. I didn’t actually use the starter until day 13, although it was ready a few days before that. I just didn’t have time when it was ready. I kept it at room temperature and continued to feed it.

Day 5 (or whichever day it ends up being for you)

  • 1 cup less 1 tablespoon (160 gr/5 ⅔ oz) starter
  • 6 tablespoons less 1 teaspoon (50 gr/1¾ oz) whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (150 gr/5 ⅓ oz) unbleached bread flour (AP will work too, but bread would be better)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water

Mix all together with a wooden spoon or this nifty contraption. It will be messy and not form a smooth ball. I mixed mine in the mixer bowl since I knew I’d be using it later. Loosely cover with plastic wrap.

Let rest in a warm place (try the oven with the oven light on. Just don’t forget it is in oven!) for about four hours. Then it will look like this:

Then add the remaining ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup less 1 teaspoon (100 gr/3 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (300gr/10 ½ oz) unbleached bread flour or AP flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons sea salt (use less if you are using basic table salt)
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) water

1. Using the dough hook on your mixer, knead for about 10 minutes or until mixture is smooth and pulls away from the bowl slightly. It will still be very sticky though. Alternately, mix with wooden spoon and knead lightly. Let rest for one hour. Avoid adding additional flour if you knead by hand. Just dampen them with water.

2. After one hour, perform a set of stretch and folds. Just stretch each of the four sides over onto itself and form a smooth ball (it will be difficult since it is a sticky dough. Dampen your hands with a little bit of water to make it easier). If you have a bannetone, spray it with non stick spray and flour very heavily, all the way to the top. Or place a thin towel or bannetone liner and flour heavily. If you do not have a bannetone, place a thin towel, heavily floured, into a shallow bowl. Place the dough into the bowl, seam side up (if you have a seam, might be too sticky). Lightly flour the top and cover loosely with a thin towel.

3. Let rest another 3 to 5 hours. It will double in size. Once it is almost ready, preheat the oven to 425F (remember to take your dough out first if you are proofing it in the oven!). Take the dough and flip it onto a sheet pan lined with parchment or silpat. The easiest way to do this is to put the sheet pan on top of the bowl and flip it over. It may stick a bit. If so, just use a knife to gently cut away the parts that are sticky. Try not to pull the dough too much at this point.

4. Using a sharp knife, lightly score (cut) the bread in about three spots. Just use a quick movement to cut the dough about 1/2 inch. This will allow the bread to bake evenly and will make it look pretty. However, your dough may be too sticky and this will not work. Don’t fret if it doesn’t.

5. Place dough in oven and lower temperature to 400F. Bake for about 40 minutes or until bread is golden. Temperature in the center should be no less than 190F.

6. Let cool and enjoy!

Some tips on using your bread: I like to enjoy bread with either butter or dipped in olive oil and a glass of wine to wash it all down. But this bread makes a great sandwich. I had some leftover prime rib which I sliced thin, warmed up in a saute pan, sprinkled some cheese on it, and placed between two slices for a very tasty lunch. It would make a great panini, grilled cheese (for a grown up version try adding some sauteed mushrooms and onions), and crostini.

Maintaining your starter: If you won’t be using your starter for a week or more, place in the refrigerator and take it out to feed once a week. At least every other time you feed it, discard some of the old starter before stirring in fresh flour.

Cleaning your kitchen: In this day and age we are obsessed with anti-bacterial everything. This kills all the good bacteria and can actually hurt your starter when it meets your kitchen counter. And, those chemicals can get into your bread as well. I clean my kitchen with vinegar, baking soda, and mild soap. That’s it. No ultra-kill-everything-die-germs-die cleaner, just the basics. It’s cheaper and better for you. Vinegar still kills all the bad bacteria while leaving no residue behind. At the very least, refrain from using the harsh chemicals where your bread will be.

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Daring Bakers October Challenge: Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

This was my very first Daring Bakers Challenge. It’s a great way to challenge myself and try recipes I might not have tried before, like this Povitica! I still can’t pronounce it, but I did read it is very similar to a Babka. My only experience with Babka is the Seinfeld episode, one of my favorites. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. “Cinnamon takes a backseat to no Babka!”

I was of course thrilled that the first challenge for me was a yeast recipe, since I bake bread all the time (I know, I need to post my bread on here more often!). But this recipe was a little hard for me to follow. I’m very particular (perhaps peculiar?) about how a recipe is written and organized. I had to sort through it and rearrange it to my liking. Also, I never use active dry yeast (and you shouldn’t either!) and always use instant. So that took some modifying. But only a couple very tiny changes and the end result was really tasty. I’m so glad I made it and have also added “Chocolate Babka” to my must-make baking list. As if I didn’t already have a long list!

This recipe isn’t hard, but it sure isn’t easy nor is it quick. Plan on this taking a couple of hours of your time, depending on how fast you work. But the end result makes a great breakfast the next day. And a mid-day snack. And dessert after dinner.

Yield: 2 loaves

Dough

  • ¼ Cup (60 ml) water
  • 1 Cup (240 ml) whole milk*
  • ¼ Cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp instant yeast*
  • 6 TB + 1 tsp (89 grams) Sugar*
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 4 cups (560 grams)  AP flour, divided

*Note: the original recipe calls for warm milk. Since we are using instant yeast here, warm milk is not required. If you do use active dry, then you will need 1 packet of yeast, 1 tsp of sugar, and milk warmed to 110F. You can still warm the milk a little for instant, but check the temperature. If it is over 110F, you will kill the yeast.

1. Mix together the melted butter, milk, eggs, and water in a separate bowl until just combined.

2. In stand mixer bowl, add your yeast, sugar, salt, and two cups of flour. Add liquid ingredients. Mix with paddle attachment just for a minute or two to help combine ingredients. Switch to a dough hook on speed 1. Add the remaining flour a tablespoon at a time until dough is well formed and smooth. You may not need all the flour, but I used all two cups and a little more. It depends on your weather!

3. Let rest in an oiled bowl until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. The picture below is before doubling. While it is rising, make the filling and topping.


Topping

  • ¼ Cup (60 ml) cold coffee
  • 1 TB granulated sugar

Combine and set aside

Filling

  • 3½ cups (560 grams) ground walnuts
  • ½ cups (120 ml) whole milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1  egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (225 gm) sugar
  • ½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (I added extra!)

1. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.

2. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.

3. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture. Let cool slightly.

4.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

5. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.

6. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

Returning to Dough

1. After dough has doubled, cut into two pieces. Just eyeball it. Spray two bread pans lightly with non stick spray. Preheat your oven to 350F.

2. Set out a silcone rolling sheet (or if you don’t have one, just use a clean bed sheet, it will help tremendously with the rolling) and a small bowl of flour for any light dusting. Get your rolling pin and prepare to work up a sweat! (Just kidding, it actually rolls out pretty easily).Roll the dough out very thin, less than 1/4″.  My rolling sheet is 24 inches by 14 inches and as you can see in the picture below I filled up the whole thing.  If you have any oddball pieces like I did, feel free to cut them off. Or if you aren’t a neurotic perfectionist like me, then leave it! A little extra dough never hurt anyone. 3. Add half of your filling and spread it on the dough, leaving room on the edges for rolling. Be careful rolling because your dough will be quite fragile at this point.

4. Very carefully start rolling the dough, just a little at a time, using light hands.

5. Then very carefully lift your dough into a bread pan. Form a “U” shape and twist back on itself.

6. Cover and let rest while you roll the second loaf. After both loaves are done and have rested about 15 minutes, brush with the coffee mixture. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

7. Bake until golden, which will take another 30 to 45 minutes. Check the internal temperature and when it reads at least 180F, it is done.

8. Important: Let cool in the pan. This goes against most bread making rules, but if you try to remove it while it is still warm, it will fall apart. It is a very heavy bread!

9. After it is cool, slice, pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy!

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Pumpkin Brioche & French Toast

I hope all of you aren’t getting sick of pumpkin. I’m not! I recently made one of my favorite treats – Pumpkin Brioche. There are many things you can do with this dough, but this time I made it into loaves for the Best French Toast Ever. Yup. That’s right. You’ll agree with me when you eat it yourself. The pumpkin and spices, soaked in a custard, cooked until golden and then topped off with some fresh whip cream. Are you drooling yet? 

Now to have this as your delicious Sunday brunch, you’ll have to do a little planning ahead. Never fear though, while it is a little time consuming, there isn’t much hands on. Just a lot of waiting and you can knock off other things on your to-do list while you wait. This recipe is once again from Ciril Hitz, although I’m not sure what book it is from because it is a recipe I picked up in culinary school.

You’ll follow a similar technique to Classic Brioche, except this recipe has a starter called a Biga. The biga is super easy, but you need to plan for it to rest for at least 12 hours, preferrably 24. The biga has very little yeast so it won’t rise much, but it will help enhance the flavor.

Biga

  • 312 g    (11 oz)  Bread Flour
  • 190 g     (6.75 oz) Milk
  • Pinch instant yeast

Mix all ingredients together and then knead by hand until it forms a somewhat smooth, but still dry, dough. It will seem as though something is wrong, but it’s not. As long as it is mixed and kneaded, it will be fine and should look something like this: 

Cover and let rest at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

The next day…..gather all your ingredients and keep the cold stuff cold.

  • 500 g (17.6 oz) Bread flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 8 g (1 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
  • 25 g (0.9 oz) milk
  • 11.5 g (0.5 oz) salt
  • 375 g (almost 1 can) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie!)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 65 g (2.3 oz) sugar
  • 50 g (1.76 oz) honey
  • 125 g (4.4 oz) butter

Place all your ingredients, except for the butter, in your mixing bowl. It helps to put the liquids in first, then your biga (which you can cut into pieces), and then the dry ingredients. Keep your butter aside for later. Mix on speed 1 for five minutes. While the dough is mixing, make your butter pliable.

After the clean up stage, increase to speed 2-4, depending on your mixer. I usually do speed 4. Slowly incorporate your butter adding a little at a time and waiting until fully incorporated before adding more. Remember, this process will take about 15 minutes.

After all the butter is incorporated, mix until a good gluten window has formed and the dough is smooth.

Empty dough into a container sprayed with cooking spray and perform a stretch and fold. Let rest for 45 minutes and perform another stretch and fold. After another 45 minutes, the dough should be ready. But, if it looks like it needs a little more time (perhaps your kitchen is cold?) then let it rise a bit longer until double.

A loaf is the easiest way to do this dough if you are making it for french toast. We will explore other options (such as filling with pastry cream!) another time.

This will make two big loaves of dough. It would probably make three loaves if you like your slices a little on the smaller side. So, depending on your preference, divide your dough up into two or three equal parts. Loosely shape your dough into rectangles and lightly flatten. Then, to shape into loaves, fold half the dough over towards itself and then the other half so they meet in the middle.

One side folded over to the center. Repeat with the other half.

When both sides are in the center, fold one side again so that it completely covers the other side and seal by lightly “hammering” with the side of your hand. Then flip the dough over and cup both ends with your hands and pull gently towards yourself repeatedly until the seam has sealed. Once it is sealed, place the dough in a prepared bread pan (sprayed lightly) and let rest until double. To create a home proofer, put both loaves in the oven and spray the oven with water. If this isn’t possible, just cover with a damp towel.

Before proofing.

After proofing.

After proofing, brush lightly with egg wash. If you made two big loaves, preheat your oven to 325F. I made the mistake of baking at 375 and the very top burned ever so slightly, so I’d recommend baking a lower temperature. Bake until a thermometer in the center (insert thermometer from the side or bottom, not the top) reads 160F. If you made three smaller loaves, then 375F should be fine.

After a few minutes, remove loaves from pan (don’t let sit in pan for more than 10 minutes or bread may become soggy) and let cool completely on a cooling rack. This will be hard to do. You will want to taste it. Resist the urge!

After cooling you can do what you wish. Make toast with cinnamon sugar (yum!) or make French Toast, which as mentioned earlier was my sole purpose for making this bread.

My favorite french toast recipe is from Alton Brown, modified slightly.

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 TB honey, warm
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together. Slice your bread and preheat oven to 250. Set up a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Place another sheet pan in the oven. Preheat a pan and have butter ready. Dip your bread in the custard and let each side soak for about 30 seconds. Move to cooling rack so excess can drip off. Add butter to your pan and brown the bread on each side, then move to oven to keep warm until you are finished with all the bread and custard.

Then, if you so desire, make some whip cream. I used about a cup of heavy cream, a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar, and some grand marnier. Whip until fluffy. This is all done to taste, so just experiment with what you like.

And then…dig in!

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Brioche, Cake-like bread. ‘Nuff said.

I love to make bread. My bread class in culinary school was by far my favorite. Maybe it is because I love to eat bread. Maybe it is because making bread doesn’t require a lot of tools or creativity. Either way, I love it, and brioche is my favorite bread to make. I love how soft and pillowy the dough is (does that make me a nerd for liking how a dough feels?), and it doesn’t hurt that it is loaded with butter! I also love how versatile the cake-like bread is. Nothing beats a great brioche bun for a delectable burger. And no bread can compete when making french toast! It just soaks up all that delicious custard for a fantastic breakfast.

I frequently make brioche just for the french toast. My hubby and I love to have french toast on the weekends with coffee and a mimosa. And the extra freeze very well. My most recent reason for brioche was to make hot dog buns for a party. I’ve never made hot dog buns before so this was a new experience for me. Everyone loved the buns, so of course the imperfections were only noticed by me!  Just look at how delicious that french toast looks!

This recipe is for plain brioche (although brioche isn’t plain by any standards!) from the great Ciril Hitz and it is verbatim from the book  Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads.  It does not require a starter but it is a two day process. The dough can be frozen up to two weeks. When ready for use, simply put in the refrigerator overnight. The whole process takes about 1 1/2 hours of hands on time total between the scaling, mixing, and shaping. Easy even for the busy baker!

Here is a video from Hitz showing how to shape brioche. It is very helpful.

Source: Baking Artisan Pastries and Bread by Ciril Hitz

Equipment required: Stand mixer with dough hook, or some serious muscles.

Ingredient list

  • Bread Flour                                    500g (4 1/2 cups)
  • Granulated Sugar                         50g (1/4 cup)
  • Instant Yeast                                 14g (4 tsp)
  • Salt                                                     8g (1 1/2 tsp)
  • Lemon zest (optional)                1/3 lemon
  • Whole Milk                                      200g (3/4 cup)
  • Unsalted Butter                            200g (14 tbsp)
  • Eggs, whole                                     50g (1 egg)
  • Egg yolks                                          50g (2 yolks)
  • Egg Wash                                           As needed
  • Toppings                                           As desired

Procedure

Day before baking

1. Before beginning, make certain that your liquid ingredients (milk, eggs, egg yolks) and butter are cold.

2. In the bowl of a 5 quart stand mixer stand mixer, mix the flour, granulated sugar, instant yeast, salt, milk, eggs, egg yolks, and lemon zest at low speed until cleanup stage.

3. While the ingredients are mixing, make the butter pliable by hammering it with a rolling pin.

4. Increase the mixing speed to medium and slowly start to add the butter to the dough in stages. Remember to wait between additions until the butter is completely absorbed and the sticky, slapping noise in the mixer has subsided. If it is warm in your kitchen, you might want to put the butter back in the refrigerator in between additions. Also, you can rub ice on the bottom of the mixing bowl to keep it from getting too warm.

5. Mix until all the butter has been incorporated into the dough and the dough is well developed with a nice gluten structure. Check the dough with a gluten window test. This whole process will take 15 to 20 minutes.

Gluten Window Gluten Window

6. Remove the dough from the mixer and work into a ball. Gently press it down to flatten and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the freezer for a minimum of six hours.

7. The night before baking, take the dough out of the freezer and transfer to the refrigerator for 12 hours.

Baking Day

1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

2. Using a scale and a bench scraper, divide the dough into 50 g (1.75 oz) increments.

3. Work the units into small balls. This can easily be done by cupping your hand around the dough and moving it in a circle motion. The video helps too!

4. Spray two loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray and place 10 units of dough into each loaf. If you have extras, simply place on a sheet pan and you will have rolls for dinner!

5.  Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof until double in size, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature of the room and the dough.

6.  Mix up the egg wash and preheat a convection oven to 33oF (165C).

7.  When the dough has doubled in size, brush the tops with egg wash. If desired, sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon and sugar. If making savory rolls, try sesame seeds.

8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a rich, golden brown. Internal temperature should be around 180F.

Let cool as long as possible before diving in! Freeze any unused portions.

To make the hot dog buns, scale out 100 g (3.5 ounces) and shape into a log.

The finished product!

 

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