Tag Archives: brioche

Mini King Cakes

Today is Mardi Gras. A splurge day before you must behave until Easter. Or something like that.

Mardi Gras has a rich history, particularly in New Orleans. I have been to New Orleans, pre-Katrina, but I was there during the off season and it was still crazy. Did you know that Mardi Gras originated in Mobile, AL? I’d always assumed New Orleans!

I’d never had a King Cake before, but essentially it is brioche (the “cake”) and gold, green, and purple sprinkles. Williams-Sonoma did a fun blog post on King Cakes describing the sugars as “…purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.” Those are some seriously loaded sugars.  Newer versions of King Cake include various fillings, such as cream cheese and praline. And in true Alabama fashion, their version of the King Cake is deep fried. I would expect nothing less.

I’m sure you’ve heard of hiding a prize inside the King Cake. In past years it would be jewels (the wealthy), beans (the poor), almonds, and in most recent years…a plastic baby. The plastic baby really creeps me out for some reason. I mean, it’s a piece of plastic in your cake! I just find that odd, so I omitted that part. Forgive me. But the main point of the prize is that whoever gets the prize is in charge of bringing the King Cake next year. I don’t mind making them again. They were easy and very tasty.

I found my recipe from King Arthur Flour but you could really use any brioche recipe, add some lemon and nutmeg, glaze it, sprinkle some sugars and voila! King Cakes! This brioche recipe is a little bit “cak-i-er” and less “bread-i-er” than other brioche and it was fast and easy to make. Less than four hours including bake and rising time! Can’t beat that.

If you don’t have gold, green, and purple sugars, make your own. Just add a little food coloring to your sugar. Easy. I had gel food colors so I put a dab on a toothpick, spritzed with water, and added to the sugar. It doesn’t take much at all.

Mini King Cakes

Yield: 10 to 12 mini King Cakes

Time: about 4 hours, including baking and rising

Difficulty: Easy

One Year Ago: Chocolate Souffle

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Dough

  • 1/2 cup (8 TB) butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dry milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 3 1/2 cups AP Flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast

Icing

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla or lemon extract (I used Fiori di Sicilia, but careful – a little goes a long way)
  • 1 TB + ½ to 1 tsp milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze

Topping

  • yellow, purple, and green sparkling sugars

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients for dough into mixer. Mix with dough hook for 5 minutes on speed 1 until dough comes together. Increase to speed 3 until dough forms a smooth ball. You may need to sprinkle more flour into the dough. I had to add about an extra 1/2 cup because the dough was just too soft. It should be soft and slightly sticky, but still have some shape. If it is just a sloppy mess, you will have a hard time with it. Sprinkle one teaspoon at a time and let mix completely before adding more. This step may take 15 minutes total.

2. Let dough rise, covered, for about one hour in a warm place, like your oven with the light on (but oven turned off!). See before and after rising:

3. Scale into 12 equal pieces (I did 10 since I only have 10 brioche pans). Shape into rolls. This will be very easy to do since the dough is easy to work with. Place into greased muffin tins or brioche pans.

4. Let rise for another hour (but not in your oven this time) covered loosely with a towel. While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 350F.

5. After rising, combine the reserved egg with  about a tablespoon of water, mix thoroughly, and brush on the cakes. Bake the cakes for 35 to 45 minutes, tenting if they brown too fast. Check the temperature about the 30 minute mark. It should read at least 180F  when they are ready.

6. To make the glaze, just combine all the glaze ingredients together, adding more milk if needed. After the cakes have cooled, dip in the glaze and sprinkle with sugars. Eat!

Check out more bread recipes at Wild Yeast.

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Day 12 of Baker’s Dozen: Cranberry Brioche Coffee Cake

Surely you are all done with your holiday shopping, right? Yesterday, maybe not, but today, definitely, right? No? Well, there are quite a few stores that still guarantee holiday delivery. One happens to be my favorite baking store, Sur La Table (hint hint). Not only do they have an amazing baking supply, like these great paper baking pans, but they also have a fantastic selection of adorable foodie ornaments, which I plan on shopping for at After Christmas Sales (another favorite!).

And those paper baking pans would be perfect for today’s recipe, Cranberry Brioche Coffee Cake, which would make an amazing gift and earn you a few BFFs. Who wouldn’t love a beautiful coffee cake for a gift? Bonus: I used the Sugared Cranberries in addition to dried cranberries. Yum. And just another reason to love brioche, as if we needed another reason, right?

This recipe is one that can be very easily adapted to suit your needs. Don’t like cranberries? No problem, just add any fruit that you like. Want to make several smaller cakes? Easy.  You don’t even need to use this brioche recipe. There are a ton to chose from (just a quick google search brought up Epicurious, Food Network) or maybe you have your own that you like.

And the great thing about brioche is the dough freezes very well until you are ready for it. Maybe you want this coffee cake for Sunday morning. You could make the dough today, freeze it, take it out Saturday to thaw, and have this coffee cake in time for brunch with very little work. Or, even better, you could make it Saturday because it tastes better the next day.

This recipe came from the most recent issue of King Arthur Flour’s Baking Sheet, which I received as a housewarming gift from a dear friend (many thanks!!). However, I made a few adjustments, and I used my trusted brioche recipe and not theirs, although I’m sure it’s great and would work just fine. Enjoy!

Cranberry Brioche Coffee Cake

Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s The Baking Sheet, Holiday 2011

Yield: 1 8 inch coffee cake

Difficulty: Easy to Medium

Prep time: About 45 minutes hands on, 12+ hours for resting dough, 35 minutes for baking

Ingredients

Procedure

1. Soak the dried fruit in the alcohol or juice overnight, or microwave for 30 seconds. Note: the alcohol does not cook off completely and still has a distinct flavor. If you don’t like this, I recommend using half alcohol and half juice, or all juice. Drain before using.

2. Make the brioche recipe of your choice and have ready before rising (this does not refer to the freezing and overnight chilling if your recipe calls for that). Scale out about 500 g (17 oz) and press into a buttered 8 inch pan. I used a spring form pan but any pan will work. If you want to make mini coffee cakes, just scale out enough dough for the mini pans. If you want a bigger cake, use more brioche.

3. Let rise until puffy, preferably in a warm spot like your oven (turned off!). It took a good hour for mine because the dough was still cold and my house is chilly. If your recipe doesn’t call for any chilling, this may not take as long. Preheat oven to 400F (but take the dough out before preheating if you were proofing it in the oven).

4. Once puffy, lightly dimple the dough, but do not deflate it. Pour the cream over the dough (if using a spring form pan then make sure it is sitting on a sheet pan), then the sugar, and then the drained dried fruit. Alternately, you can lightly kneed the fruit into the dough before putting in the pan, and sprinkle a few extra on top. If you are using the sugared cranberries I’d recommend pulsing them in a food processor first.

5. Bake in preheated oven until golden and a thermometer reads 190F in the center. It took about 30 minutes for my cake. The original recipe says 23 minutes, which wasn’t long enough. Let cool completely or ideally overnight before serving. Enjoy with a cup of coffee!

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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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