Monday, March 31, 2008

Artisan Breads- Master Recipe Boule, Brioche and Chocolate Brioche

First, an update that justifies my blog having a law based name: I decided where I am going to school next year! I am going to be attending GW Law. Super excited, though inherently broke. Cheaper ingredients will soon become a common feature here at Chez Tart Reform. Doesn't matter though. I have made a decision and am happy with it.My First real cookbook review! So…I’m excited! I recently purchased “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” after being inspired by many lovely posts on it. The basic idea is that you take about 10 minutes to mix the dough (literally, I timed myself when I mixed it one day before class, and I had it mixed in 10 minutes). You mix enough to make about 4 loaves of bread. Then you let it sit out for a few hours untouched. Later, you put your large bowl of bread in the fridge, where it sits, again untouched, until you pull out just what you need to bake bread for that night. Most loaves (ones without eggs or milk) are fine for up to 2 weeks (though the longest mine has lasted is a week because we eat it up). On the day you want bread you have 2 options:
1) in the morning, take out your dough and shape your loaf. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. Bake.
2) at night, take out dough and shape your loaf. Let sit about 40 min then bake.
Either method only requires about 5 minutes of hands on time, but I preffer the 1st method (called the refridgerator method so that I can get dinner on the table quicker.
Since “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” came in the mail a few weeks ago, I have been hooked. One of my friends from home is even getting a parbaked loaf of the Brioche filled with Chocolate Ganache as her birthday present and way to end Passover. I have tried 2 base recipes as well as a few cooking methods, so here is a review recipe by recipe:

Master Recipe: Great. SOOOO easy to make, you can’t go wrong. The taste is good to start, but does get even better over time in your fridge (think of a mild sourdough) or if a little bit of the last dough is left in. The dough becomes harder to work with as time progresses (stickier and harder to shape) but is delicious and still super doable. I have made it into the basic boule (easiest and perfect for serving with dinner), the wheat stalk shape (WAY too much crust. Looked very pretty but it is hard to bite into the tips of the stalks) and the sandwich loaf ( I wouldn’t call it a sandwich loaf so much because it isn’t the size of a loaf you are used to for sandwich bread. Think more like a size that would be perfect for appetizers once sliced. Mine was about 4” wide x about 2-3” high). I have come to serve the boule of this recipe with dinner regularly. I also turned this into the sundried tomato and parmesan bread the book lists, and I had great results. Not having sundried tomatoes, I baked some cut cherry tomatoes with olive oil and basil in the oven until about the same texture. It was so pretty and super tasty served with baked ziti.Brioche Recipe: I only made a ½ batch and both loaves from it got turned into chocolate ganache filled loaves. Not that I’m complaining. They are DELICIOUS. Soft, buttery sweet bread (a lot like challah) rolled around a chocolate glaze, baked to golden brown and then topped in more chocolate glaze. And, still very easy to make. Just be sure to flour your rolling area as it is sticky.

Conclusion: I highly recommend this book. There is the caveat that the bread is not ACTUALLY done in the 5 minutes listed in the title (about 30minutes in the oven plus 40 minutes rising if you don’t use the fridge method) but even that time isn’t hands on and can be done while making the rest of dinner or even watching tv. I have read complaints online about the bread not having much flavor, but I haven’t found this to be the case if you either give it time, give it some leftover from your last batch or just aren’t overly critical of the warm, crusty bread that you make in about 15 minutes total of work time. Seriously, it is GREAT with time or a little leftover, but is still darn good without. OH! And, one of my favorite things is that one of the authors updates a blog about the book with answers to questions, color pics, tips and variations to the recipes. LOVE IT!

Other recipes from the book I intend to try soon: Ciabatta, Caraway Swirl Rye, English Granary Style, Vermont Cheddar Bread, Caramelized Onion & Herb Dinner Rolls, Spinach Feta, Roasted Garlic Potato Bread, Pizza, Spinach & Cheese Calzone, Focaccia with Onion & Rosemary, Fougasse Stuffed with Roasted Red Pepper, Pita, Naan, Challah, Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls, Soft-Style American White, Buttermilk Bread and the Blueberry Lemon Curd Ring.Master Recipe for a Boule
Preparation time: 15 minutes to prepare enough dough for four loaves, to be baked within 2 weeks. Each daily loaf will average 5 minutes of active preparation time.
Makes four 1-pound loaves3 cups lukewarm water (about 100ยบ F) (NOT HOT! You should be able to comfortably put your fingers in)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (I use a little more since I have active dry yeast, not instant)
1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt (I use 1 TBSP since I use table salt)
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (no need to sift)
Cornmeal for the pizza peel.

1. In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. If dry bits of flour remain, wet your hands and quickly work them in. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough.

2. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.

3. After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.

4. On baking day, prepare a pizza peel (I use a silicone baking mat) by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour (I find this leaves too much flour on the extra dough, so I just flour my hands, flour my work area, then proceed. After cutting, I loosely roll the cut dough in floured area). Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives or kitchen scissors are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time

5. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.

6. Place the dough on the cornmeal dusted pizza peel/mat. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered (or cover and put in fridge up to 14 hours). The bread may not rise much during this time.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone (I use a cookie sheet) on the center rack of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, use another baking sheet. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 F.

8. When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.

9.Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone (sometimes I just put the mat on the baking sheet just for ease). Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.

10.Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.

Brioche Bread
Makes four 1 pound loaf.
The recipe is easily doubled or halved.
1 1/2 cups luke warm water (slightly heated, but not hot)
1 1/2 tsp yeast (again, I use slightly more since mine is active dry, not instant)
1/2 tbsp salt (I use slightly less since I am using table salt, not kosher salt)
8 Eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup Honey
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter ( 3 sticks), melted, plus extra butter for greasing the pan.
7 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Egg wash ( 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water)

1. Mix the yeast, salt eggs, honey, and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl.

2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon. If you are not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled, don't try to work with it before chilling.

3. Cover (not airtight)

4. Refrigerate in a lidded (not air tight) container (or in the same bowl, covered with plastic wrap) and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days freeze the dough in one pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then allow the usual rest and rise time

5. Defrost the dough overnight in the fridge if frozen. On baking day grease 9 x 4 x 3 inch nonstick loafpan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and and cut off a 1 pound piece (grapefruit size) (Again, I find it easier to dust hands and work surface so you don’t overflour leftover dough). Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.

6. Elongate into an oval shape and place in the prepared pan. Allow to rest for 1 hour and 20 minutes

7. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

8. Using a pastry brush, brush the top crust with egg wash.

9. Place the bread near the center of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a medium golden brown. Due to the fat in the dough, brioche will not form a hard crackling crust.Brioche Filled with Chocolate Ganache
1 pound brioche dough (grapefruit sized)
1/4 pound bitter sweet chocolate finely chopped (semisweet works too, but not as well)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan.
4 tsp unsweetened cacao powder.
1 tbsp rum
5 tablespoons corn syrup.
1 egg white lightly beaten with 1 tbsp of water.
Granulated sugar for sprinkling on top

Making the ganache:
1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave on low heat, until smooth. Remove from heat, add the butter and stir until incorporated.

2. Stir the cocoa powder into the rum, add the corn syrup, and mix until smooth. Add to the chocolate.

3. Assembling the brioche:Lightly butter 9 x 4 x 3 inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated brioche dough with flour and cut off a one pound piece. ( I flour my hands and work area more so than the dough)Dust the piece with flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around the ball a quarter turn as you go. Using a rolling pin, roll out the ball into 1/4 inch thick rectangle, dusting with flour as needed.

4. Spread 1/2 cup of the ganache evenly over the rectangle, leaving a 1 inch border all around. Starting at the short end, roll up the dough, being careful to seal the bare edge.

5. Gently tuck the loose ends underneath, elongate into a oval , and drop into the prepared pan.

6. Allow to rest 1 hour and 40 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with egg white. Sprinkle lightly with the granulated sugar.

8. Bake the brioche for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the sugar caramelizes. Due to the butter in the dough, the brioche will not form a hard crust.

9. Remove from the pan and cool slightly, then drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of ganache over the top crust. Cool completely and slice.


Robert said...

Congrats on the GW decision. It's supposed to be a great school. I definitely have to make an effort to stick to ingredients within my price range. It's still possible to make some very good stuff though.

Tasha said...

The Master Recipe calls for 1-1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt, actually. Remember, the doubled recipe is 6-3-3-13 (water, salt, yeast, and flour).

Tasha said...

BTW, the chocolate ganache-filled brioche looks amazing -- gonna have to try that one!

Carolyn™ said...

That chocolate ganache filled brioche is a must to try - thanks for sharing.