Yes, I admit that I love delicious brioche, both making and eating it. Even though there’s a good deal of butter and egg in this enriched dough, if the base recipe is just right and the process is executed just so, it’s a real winner in my book. Light and pillowy with a tight yet soft crumb, it’s a canvas for so many different creations.
I’ve written about brioche in the past, but I’m one of those folks who loves to peruse recipes, compare and tweak the ingredient ratios as well as the methods used to produce some version of this particular delight. Knot rolls coming up!
This time I had citrus (orange to be exact) on my mind. During the winter months I often have a mix of orange segments with their juice plus some cut-up apples in a bowl in my fridge for that all important daily fruit quotient that we all need. Not wishing to waste any part of the orange, I zest my oranges before segmenting them, then wrap the zest in little packets, stashing them in the freezer so the zest is handy for my next citrus baking adventure.
I reviewed Dorie Greenspan’s brioche recipe in her book Baking Chez Moi in addition to Jeffrey Hamelman’s in his book Bread - A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes. While there are tons of recipes out there for brioche, what I took away from this review was one small interesting technique that Hamelman recommends when using a planetary stand mixer (like the ubiquitous Kitchenaid that many of us have). He notes that it’s more difficult to adequately develop the dough in a planetary mixer so suggests holding back half or more of the sugar at the beginning of the knead.
Sugar is hygroscopic and actually acts as a liquefying agent, so if it’s all added at the beginning, the result is a looser textured dough that doesn’t develop as well. Who knew? Learn something new everyday.
NOTE: if you’re interested in a quick run down on planetary (most commonly used) and spiral mixers (more specifically for bread and artisan dough) check this out.
The mixing process went well, the resulting dough had that silky, buttery texture one hopes for before the overnight refrigeration, and the following morning the division and shaping proceeded apace. I divided my dough into 42 g / 1.5 ounce portions, did the preliminary ball shaping and gave them a 10 minute rest.
I rolled each one into a snake and then formed ‘em into single knots. Kind of reminds me of some sort of creature peaking out of its burrow or a coiled snake (hopefully not ready to strike!)
One of the important steps in the brioche making process is the final rise - if it’s too short, the end result isn’t that wonderful light, airy and oh-so delicious creation on which you’ve spent a decent amount of effort. Especially during the winter months in my 69º kitchen, I’m careful to give the dough plenty of time, sometimes up to 2 hours, for that all important rise.
Note that since brioche is such an enriched dough, the rise may not be as obvious as that of lean breads, but you should be able to appreciate the increased fullness and puffiness of the risen dough.
These baked at 375º F for about 20 minutes - all nice and golden brown.
Once cooled I opted for an orange cream cheese glaze that set these babies off with just the right touch. Delicious. Soft, delicate crumb, light and wonderful.
Here’s the recipe for my orange brioche dough, yield 1320 g / approximately 2.9 lbs.
537 g flour, half bread and half all purpose
90 ml whole milk, cold
90 ml water, cold
5 large eggs, cold
11 g salt
68 g sugar, divided in two portions
18 g instant yeast
255 g unsalted butter, cool and pliable, medium diced
1 tablespoon orange zest (from 2 medium oranges)
Place flour, milk, water, eggs, salt, yeast and half the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low to incorporate then knead on speed 2 for 5-7 minutes until you have a strong dough using the windowpane test.
Add the second half of the sugar and knead for 2 more minutes.
Add butter bit by bit on speed 2. Once all added, knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and sheets nicely.
Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl, tuck plastic on and around the top and let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
Fold the dough gently, place it back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. De-gas 2-3 times over several hours then refrigerate overnight.
Proceed with dividing and shaping as noted above . For these orange rolls I divided the dough into fifteen 42 g portions, using about half the dough (a full batch would give you 30 rolls!). You don’t have to use all the dough - just tightly wrap any unused dough with plastic wrap and freeze for later.
Once the knot rolls are shaped, cover lightly with buttered plastic wrap and let rise 1.5-2 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Heat the oven to 375ºF and bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.
Cool before icing.
For the icing I blended 227 g / 8 oz softened cream cheese, 2 T corn syrup, 2 T heavy cream, 75 g / 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, pinch salt and the zest from one medium orange. You may not need all of it - it keeps in the fridge, covered for a week or so.
I used my leftover glaze on some petite citrus financiers. Deelish. Now go have some brioche fun!