Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The New Math

Ok, we decided a long time ago to do the all the brioche recipes over December 3 & 4. It seemed like a good thing to do and we put it in our calendars weeks ago. I was afraid if I didn't do it, I'd end up scheduled teaching a class on the Monday and leave J the excitement of roll out, fold, roll out, wait, fold, wait, roll out, place. Truly, since it was on my calendar when I got the email for open days to teach in December, I could honestly not include those days as open.

Well, the week before, we were discussing what we were going to do and realized that about two recipes later, there was a sticky bun recipe that used the brioche as its base. Again, any forethought shown in this blog goes to J. She's the one that finds all these connections. It's times like these that I feel like I'm just along for the ride.

There was this great moment when we were doing three batches of yeasty bread type cakes and rolls, and had doubled one, even though we really could have just tripled it and had two batches to work with since the sticky buns and the struesel brioche start with the very same dough. It was confusing, and it looked like a comic kitchen. I sorta half expected the Three Stooges to come out and poke our proofing yeasty bread type things for fun and hilarity.

We did manage to make three batches, and never had to throw any out and start over, thank you very much. It's really much easier when you double -- if you forget to double you can always add. Halving on the other hand is a bit different. By the time you discover you forgot to halve the leavener, your zucchini bread has exploded out of the pan onto the bottom of the oven- not saying that's ever happened of course.

Just as RLB cautioned, we did find that we were overtaxing the motors on our two food processors when we were making the brioche. We ended up using the Kitchen Aid mixer. The virtue of using the food processor is lost on us, next time we will begin in the stand mixer and just stay there.

Our day started with the La Brioche Cake (CB pg 76) which is used in the Praline Brioche (pg 171). It started with making a sponge the night before. Relatively simple process. Actually nothing we did for any of these recipes was difficult or required a lot of hands on time. While it took about 2 days to make them, we only had to be in attendance on them for about 15 minutes.

I loved the fact that we start on Monday and when we get to cooking on Tuesday, it's only in the oven for 15 minutes!

After all the work, the Praline Brioche wasn't one of our favorites. So much so that we never even took a picture of it after we sliced and soaked and frosted. You are asked to make a cake which is not really a cake, but a giant domed mass of brioche in a 9" springform pan- see below,
then cut away more than half of it to have a crustless 7 1/2" by 1 3/4" disc of brioche. Then into this relatively small amount of cake, you are to let it absorb, practically submerging it, almost 2 cups of rum syrup. Then the the sodden layer gets frosted. All that manhandling -- or should I write person handling as J did quite a bit of that herself? :) -- seemed for naught. The texture was a bit weird, as in wet, and the rum was totally overpowering although the sugar put up quite a fight in that battle. This is one that I might think of making again only because it seems like it should work. It seems unlikely that what we produced could possibly have been near the mark, despite following the instructions explicity. Really, I think it was the fabulous Coffee Caramel Silk Buttercream (pg 242) that makes me such an optimist- what a delicious buttercream.

This is The Holiday Hallelujah Streusel Brioche (CB pg 94) and it was really similar to the previous in process. The recipe states that it freezes well and since we'd been pretty much brioched out, we froze it. J and K brought some over for the holiday party that M and I throw every year. (One of the happier things that took up some of our time this last month). This recipe did hold up well in the freezer. It was a nice addition to the other cloying sweets that we had on our table. It was eaten quickly. With many compliments. The texture was a bit dry to me. But others disagreed, they said it was flaky, which might have seemed a bit odd since it was a yeasty cake, not a pie crust. But a good brioche has a texture that is a cross between flakes of yeasty dough and the crumb of cake.

MMMM sticky buns (CB pg 98) These were very much worth the effort that we made them again for our Carb Fest 2008 (More on that in the next installment).

These start out with the exact same dough for the Streusel Brioche. Then you top (or is it really, bottom) them with butter light brown sugar and pecan halves. This is the most dreamy, melt in your mouth, smells like a home should smell like bit of baking we have done. It comes out all toasty and gooey and if you stop to think about it for any amount of time at all, everyone has beaten you to them and all the sticky buns are gone.

As you can see, these are well worth the work.

Bake through....


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