Tag Archives: breakfast

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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Savory Scones – Bacon, Onions, and Gruyere

I’ve made scones many a times. I almost always make cranberry orange. I love cranberries and I love the buttery goodness of a scone. This time, however, my hubby requested I make savory scones for his students on the first day of class. I’ve talked of making savory scones (on that long list of Things To Make. I should write that list down someday) but just never did until now!

Making savory scones isn’t really much different than sweet. You just add different goodies at the end. The rest is the same. This particular recipe I added pepper with the dry and a pinch less sugar, but otherwise, the base is essentially the same. Which means if you don’t want savory scones, you can still use this recipe and just add whatever you desire!

These turned out really, really yummy. In fact, people scarfed these down faster than my sweet scones! Perhaps it was the bacon? Or maybe that it was something different? Really all that matters is people enjoyed these immensely. Which makes me happy!

I didn’t measure my bacon, onions, or cheese. But here’s the suggested amounts:

  • 45 g (1/3 cup) Caramelized onions
  • 45 g (1/3 cup) Cooked Bacon
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) Gruyere

I cooked my bacon first then used the bacon fat to cook the onions:

Let those cool and drain on a paper towel and continue on with the recipe.

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Scones with Gruyere

Recipe from Ciril Hitz Baking Artisan Breads and Pastries

  • 400 g (3 1/4 cup) All purpose Flour or Bread Flour (I prefer half each)
  • 4 g (1/2 tsp) Salt
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) Pepper (omit if using a sweet filling)
  • 56 g (1/4 cup) Sugar
  • 24 g (2 TB) Baking powder
  • 148 g (10 TB) Unsweetened Butter, Cold
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg white (save the yolk for egg wash)
  • 230 g (1 cup) Buttermilk
  • Egg wash, as needed

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients.

3. Cut the butter into cubes, but keep cold. If using a mixer, mix the butter into the flour using a paddle attachment. If not using a mixer, use your hands or a pastry cutter. Work the butter in until it is the texture of cornmeal. Be careful not to over mix.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk. Slowly add the liquids to the flour mixture. Mix just until combined!

5. Move your dough to a work bench and get ready to knead! Get your things together before this step: Rolling pin, dough cutter, dowels, egg wash, pan with silpat or parchment, and knife or pizza wheel. And flour for dusting. Very important.

6. Work your dough into a nice ball. It will be pretty sticky at this point so you will need flour. Knead it by folding it over on itself, then rotate 90 degrees and repeat. This will create layers which will make your dough flaky.

7. Once the dough has come together fairly well, add the onions and bacon and knead to work it in. You may want to do this in batches.

8. Now that all the goodies are worked into the dough, roll out the dough to 1/2″. This is where you need the dowels. Again, if you don’t have dowels, use a ruler.

9. When you are at 1/2″, use your knife or pizza wheel to cut triangle. I like to cut squares and then triangles.

10. Move to your pan. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with the cheese.

11. Bake until golden, which should take 15 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

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