Tag Archives: instant yeast

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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