Back to school again. This time, the class is focusing on yeasted products typically served during the first meal of the day. The regular instructor was away, but our substitute was a familiar face, the same Chef who I've had for both cake classes. Many of the students were familiar, including two others who I've partnered with.
We started out by making a sponge from equal weights of bread flour and milk and a bit of fresh yeast. Someone mentioned seeing compressed yeast at the Bulk Barn; I'm going to have to see for myself. I don't like to use it, because I don't make bread all that often and it only has a shelf life of a few weeks. At home, I usually mix the sponge by hand for less than a minute, but we did ours in the mixer for a good five minutes.
After that fermented for a half hour, we mixed up the main dough which was enriched with whole eggs and a few yolks. A grating of lemon zest pushed this bread into the sweet variety. Our instructor suggested using herbs if we wanted to use the brioche in a savoury application. After kneading the dough until it was smooth and uniform, we gradually tossed in the butter. The amount we used was about 37% the weight of the flour, putting our recipe in between what Reinhart calls “poor man's” (23.5%) and “middle-class” (50%). I've used the latter in cinnamon buns with great success.
After 20 minutes bench time, we degassed the dough and divided it using the dough divider into 36 pieces. To make the traditional à tête shape, we pinched off a tiny piece, rounded the remaining piece then nestled the smaller ball on top of the larger one. Due to the butter and warm classroom, I could see a shine developing on the dough if I worked it too much. Fortunately, I've gotten lots of practise in shaping rolls so I didn't make too much of a mess. Instead of using fluted molds, we baked our breads in greased muffin tins. After a light egg wash and a stint in the proofer, Chef baked them in the oven.
As she warned, many of the heads rolled off to one side after baking. Some recipes call for poking a hole in the dough then looping one end through to form the head. Anyway, the brioches were rich and buttery as you would expect, suitable for a calorie-enriched diet, ha ha. They weren't very sweet though, I would have preferred using a bit more sugar.
Cream Puff's writeup (we're in the same class!) is here.