Orange glazed brioche

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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!

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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.

Balled up dough ready for final shaping

Balled up dough ready for final shaping

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!)

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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.

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These baked at 375º F for about 20 minutes - all nice and golden brown.

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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.

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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)

  1. 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.

  2. Add the second half of the sugar and knead for 2 more minutes.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Heat the oven to 375ºF and bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.

  9. 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!

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Roasted garlic cheese bread

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Ooooh I loved this baking adventure! Not only did I use Fontinella, a delicious bread-worthy cheese from The Cheese Lady, but added in some roasted garlic that the Steve-man has recently been providing in spades.

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I’ve been wanting to experiment more with different ways of filling and shaping bread dough and am often inspired by ideas I absorb from King Arthur Flour’s “Sift” magazine and/or their website which is chock full of wonderful tips, tricks and ideas.

In addition, I’m learning more about the ways to tweak one’s bread recipe from a straight or direct dough to a pre-ferment approach to build more flavor into the final result. Not only is it fun but appeals to my scientific bent.

In addition to KAF’s website, my go-to resources for bread baking include Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “The Bread Bible”, Peter Reinhart’s “artisan breads every day” and Jeffrey Hamelman’s “Bread”. So much to learn.

For this project I married ideas from a provolone bread recipe from CIA’s “Baking and Pastry” that I’ve been making for some years now with a KAF recipe for a cool looking twisty cheese/sundried tomato/herb number. I wanted to do a poolish this time and found some great tips on the “Weekend Bakery” blog, written by a Dutch couple who bake at their home. Lots of good stuff there too.

I’m not here to slog through the calculations but, in a nutshell, a poolish is equal weights of flour and water taken as a percentage of the whole from the base bread recipe you’re using. Based on my understanding of how one goes about this, I created my poolish with 200 g bread flour, 200 g water and 1/8 + 1/16 teaspoon of instant yeast, looking for a 6 hour room temperature fermentation. NOTE: the amount of yeast you add will vary depending on how long you wish your poolish to ferment.

Here’s my poolish after about 5.5 hours - nice and active and bubbly!

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To make the final dough I combined the poolish with 510 g bread flour, 7 g instant yeast, 235 ml tepid water/milk mix, 71 g olive oil, 20 g butter and 16 g salt.

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Using the dough hook I mixed everything for 4 minutes on low speed and then 2 minutes on medium speed. Then a 30 minute bulk fermentation followed by a fold-over then another 30 minutes before dividing.

After the bulk fermentation

After the bulk fermentation

I divided my dough into two 740 g portions with a plan for two different shaping approaches.

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The first shape involves rolling the dough into a rectangle and sprinkling it with 227g grated cheese (fontinella in my case). Then I took 6-7 cloves of roasted garlic and smooshed and pieced them up, scattering the pieces over the rectangle. A light sprinkle of Penzey’s salt free pizza seasoning mix, then roll up a snug log.

Starting the log roll

Starting the log roll

Once the log is complete, pinch the seams, place it seam side down on a parchment lined sheet, slit it down the middle to a depth of about an inch, leaving the ends intact. The log will open up to expose the filling.

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Then shape it into an “S” and tuck the ends under. Pretty cool.

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My second shape followed the method used for babka in which you roll up the log as already described, then slit the log entirely down the middle yielding two separate pieces filling side up.

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Begin at one end and twist the two pieces over and under each other, continuing to keep the filling side up as best you can (I could use some more practice on this one!). In this case I then went for a couronne or crown by forming it into a ring and tucking the ends under.

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Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 45-60 minutes, heating the oven to 350ºF during the last half of the rise.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until nicely browned.

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The fontinella and roasted garlic went a long way to making this one a truly delectable bread experience.

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For a family supper we sliced it, drizzled some melted butter over it, loosely wrapped it in foil and warmed it for about 10 minutes in a 325ºF oven. Oh my.

Yup. I’d make this again.

Smashed potato rolls


Some weeks back for the Memorial Day gathering at Clear Lake we planned to bring brats and sausages from Kingma's market (good stuff by the way) for the main course. There was also a potato contest in the works to see who might create something that could hold a candle to one of the family favorites, cheesy potatoes.

Steve planned to make his famous potato galette, and I wanted to contribute something potato-y as well. Hey! How about potato rolls to go with those delicious brats? Why not.

Embarking on my potato roll quest, I reviewed a couple of recipes that used roasted potatoes in the dough but ended up with a dinner roll recipe from King Arthur Flour that seemed like just the ticket.

Back during our Vermont days we would often prepare and enjoy food with friends Ross and Candi Walton. Candi always referred to mashed potatoes as "mashies", a term we have used now for many years when referring to that particular dish.

For this roll recipe I boiled up some Yukon Golds and gave them a rough mash - something I like to refer to as "smashed". I think Candi would be on board with that one, don't you?


Let me tell you! This recipe process was molto interessante as the Italians would say. I pretty much followed the KAF recipe (it'll come, don't worry), aside from reducing the egg a bit, but what really tangled me up was the lack of any guidelines for the kneading time of this starchy, enriched dough. Soooooo sticky!

I kneaded it for 8 minutes in my Kitchenaid stand mixer then gave it a 30 minute rest with an every 10 minute stretch and fold over. It was still pretty sticky so I gave it another 6-7 minute mixer knead. Frankly I wasn't quite sure where I was with this dough.

But I plowed ahead, placed it in a lightly greased bowl covered with plastic wrap and let it rise about 90 minutes.


I had intended to make hot-dog style buns, but, when it came to dividing and shaping the dough, I found it simply wasn't behaving the way I had hoped. It remained quite sticky, so I tried both the flouring-the-surface-and-hands method and the oiling-the surface-and-hands method to be able to handle this interesting dough. Both worked - sort of.

First I created 75 g pieces, gave them an initial boule shape, let them rest 5-10 minutes and then attempted to roll them into hot-dog, log-like shapes. Nuh-uh. It was not happening.

So I reverted to the boule roll form and persevered. FYI - I almost gave up on this one.

Once shaped and placed on a parchment lined sheet pan, I gave them a 1.5 hour rise until puffy.

I heated the oven to 350ºF and baked 20-25 minutes until nicely browned.

Hmmmmm. Maybe this will work after all.


They felt REALLY soft once cooled, but, not to be thwarted this far into the process, I decided to let them sit overnight covered with parchment.

Boy howdy! These babies were delicious. A wonderful soft texture, delicate flavor but with enough structure to hold up to a good turkey-lettuce-mayo sandwich. Yum.

Steve declared them unfit for brat use (not the right shape don't ya know), so into the freezer they went and we've been enjoying them since. Burgers, sandwiches. It's all good.

Now for the recipe. Going against my usual grain, I'm providing this in good ole measurements as opposed to metric weights. It just feels right here.

2 large eggs (I backed that off to about 1.5 eggs)
1/3 cup sugar (I made this one a scant 1/3 cup)
2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons butter, soft
8 ounces smashed potatoes (unseasoned), at room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water, preferably water in which the potatoes were boiled. I used half potato water and half milk.
4 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur of course - after all, this is I recipe I found on their website!)

1. Mix and knead all the ingredients to make a smooth, soft dough. No time frame is given so I winged it as described above.

2. Place dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 90 minutes until doubled in bulk.

3. Gently deflate the dough and divide into desired sized pieces. For a good size hamburger bun I used 2 5/8 ounce or 75 grams with a yield of 16 rolls. Round each ball into a smooth roll.

4. Place the rolls on parchment lined pans, cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and let rise 1.5-2 hours until quite puffy. Toward the end of the rise preheat the oven to 350ºF.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and feel set. Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool. (Option - brush with melted butter)

6. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store well wrapped in plastic for several days at room temperature or freeze (what I did).


All I can say it there is so much to learn about bread baking. I recently purchased Jeffrey Hamelman's book "Bread" and have just begun delving into it. So much detail, so many variables and so many ways to make delicious bread. 

With this recipe I based my kneading time somewhat on the fact that this is an enriched dough with butter, egg, and sugar, reminiscent of lean brioche. It seemed like a longer kneading time was the thing to do. Was that the right approach? I'm not sure. All I know is they taste good and that's what counts!