I was feeling rather chuffed with my bulbous, shiny brioche loaf until I saw another Alpha Baker's loaf and remembered that the classic brioche shape has a little knobbly bit on top. I've been very busy at work and rushed to get this made so I didn't bother too much with the shaping instructions. Nevertheless this turned out very well, knobbly bit or no, and was pretty easy, with patience and good timing the main requirements.
I did marvel, before I started, that I was not the slightest bit overawed by the task of making brioche. This is what the Alpha Baker project has achieved so far for me - confidence with previously daunting tasks. Luckily this didn't prove to be over-confidence.
The biggest decision was what shape to make the brioche. I realised after some thought, that my mother had bestowed on me a little brioche tin at least 15 years ago in one of her guilt-induced baking tin clean outs. I have no guilt about amassing piles of baking equipment and am the happy recipient of any cast-offs from my more morally conflicted relatives.
I did have to scrub some little bits of rust off the tin since it hadn't been used (ever?) for a very long time. I felt the rust coming off was a metaphor for lifting the load of guilt of baking hoarders everywhere.
The brioche begins with a starter of bread flour (Wallaby bread flour because I think the protein is equivalent to the flour Rose specifies), an egg, some sugar, yeast and water. This is mixed up into a sticky dough and more flour is blanketed over the top of the dough and left to ferment.
The monster awakes! (I like a bit of melodrama in my baking) The starter ferments and seeps into and over the flour.
To this mixture you add more eggs and butter and mix in the stand mixer to a sticky dough.
The sticky dough is left to double in size.
Once it has doubled you roll it out and do a couple of business letter folds. The folded dough is then refrigerated for an hour or so until the butter in the dough is cold enough not to melt and separate.
You can see in the photo below why brioche isn't like other breads. The butter and eggs shine through the rich soft bread dough.
The dough is then moulded into a ball and put into the brioche tin to rise again. The cold butter in the dough made it surprisingly firm to handle.
I love to watch the dough rising which explains the gratuitous number of photos of the brioche in the act of expanding.
C'or what a crumb!. Actually I suspect it's not meant to have big holes in it but it was lovely and soft. Even though this was lovely and I did eat a good deal of it myself, brioche is by no means something I would choose to make as a loaf (as with pannettone). I find there's something slightly unsatisfying about it compared with more bready, dense offerings. Nevertheless this is a great recipe if you have some good reason for making brioche.
I took a short break from baking after a nasty bout of food poisoning and missed the Red Velvet Rose. I am baking this week's Alpha Baker cake - the Double Damage Chocolate Obllivion - which promises to be a very unusual and over-the-top chocolate cake. Hurray!