Creamy Mushrooms and Eggs {FFwD}

AMFT Cover

Although I haven’t been participating in French Fridays with Dorie (or any other bake- or cook-along group) recently, I happened by the website the other day, and this recipe was enough to pull me back in. Mushrooms, cream, and poached eggs (singing: these are a few of my favorite things) on top of toasted brioche — I mean, what’s not to love?

This recipe was as simple as it was delicious. Cleaning the mushroom caps and chopping the mushrooms, shallot, rosemary, and mint were the most time-consuming parts of the whole process. After that, it was just a matter of adding everything to the pan in the right order while Mom poached some eggs.

Once I had my mise en place, I began by heating olive oil and melting butter in a sauté pan. I dropped in the shallot and sautéed it for a few minutes, then added the mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Once the mushrooms had given up their liquid and begun to soften, I added cream and let it simmer away for a few minutes while I sliced up the brioche and started toasting it. Finally, I removed the pan from the heat and stirred in rosemary and mint.

By that time, Mom was finished poaching the eggs (perfectly, I might add), and we plated everything. We put a slice of brioche on the plate, topped it with a nice spoonful of mushrooms and the poached egg, and then finished it off by spooning the mushroom cream over the top.

Everyone agreed that this was a perfect Sunday supper — simple, homey, filling, and insanely delicious.

I’m glad to be back cooking with my friends for French Fridays. I can’t say for sure how many recipes I will make, or if I’ll post many or any of them. But I have already made next week’s Coupetade. And I love both asparagus and avocado. So there’s a good chance I’ll be around at least for the month of May.

Bon appetite!

Brioche {BWJ}

Our next Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Pecan Sticky Buns, which is due to be posted May 15, 2012. The first “ingredient” listed in the recipe is one batch of brioche dough. Since the brioche is a separate recipe and is used as a base for various other recipes in Baking with Julia, I decided it deserved its own post.

Brioche dough is loaded with butter and eggs, so you know whatever you make with it is going to be good. Brioche is known for its richness and fine texture. It can be tricky to work with, and it is definitely best made using a heavy-duty stand mixer.

Now, I’m no stranger to brioche. I made three versions of it during the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. Bubble-top brioche was one of the first recipes I made from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table (AMFT). And Nick Malgieri has a quick and easy brioche recipe in The Modern Baker, which I used to make a quick brioche braid and marbled chocolate brioche loaf.

The recipe in BWJ was contributed by Nancy Silverton and begins with a sponge. Milk, yeast, one egg, and a bit of flour are mixed just until the flour is blended in.

More flour is sprinkled on top, and the sponge is allowed to rest until the yeast begins working. You know it’s ready when the flour starts to crack.

Once the sponge was ready, I added sugar, salt (not enough, in my opinion; next time I’ll increase the salt by about half), and more eggs and flour. I mixed the dough in my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook for about 15 minutes, until I had a shaggy dough that clung to the dough hook and slapped against the side of the bowl.

The next step called for incorporating lots of butter into the dough. In order to do this, the directions said the butter should be roughly the same texture and consistency as the dough. The recipe recommended beating the butter with a rolling pin or smearing it on the work surface with a dough scraper. I decided to use the smear method, but I found the dough scraper awkward to work with. I had much better luck with an offset spatula.

I incorporated the butter a bit at a time. Thanks to the instructions, I didn’t worry when the dough separated, as I knew with continued mixing it would come back together. Once all the butter had been added, I continued to mix the dough for about 5 more minutes. The dough was soft, sticky, and warm from all the mixing. I put it into a large buttered bowl and set it aside to rise.

After about 2 hours, the dough had doubled in size.

I deflated the dough and put it in the fridge for its second rise.

After an overnight rest in the refrigerator, the dough was ready to be made into sticky buns. Check out the sticky buns post to see how they came out.

As for the brioche dough itself, I would have to say it was my least favorite of all the variations I’ve tried. It was extremely labor intensive, and the final product didn’t have a payoff in line with the amount of work involved. I suspect Dorie wouldn’t be too surprised to hear this. After all, she developed a much easier and more straightforward recipe for brioche for AMFT.

Cinnamon Breakfast Ring {ModBak}

The third bread in the Yeast-Risen Specialties section of The Modern Baker is Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Ring.

This recipe starts with a batch of quick brioche dough. After turning the dough out of the food processor, I pressed it out to a square, then rolled it into a rectangle.

I spread the dough with a mixture of butter, cinnamon, and sugar, then sprinkled it with pecans. The recipe also called for raisins, but I omitted them so the girls would eat it.

I rolled the dough from the long end, then curled the dough into a ring on the baking sheet.

It didn’t come out as even as I had hoped, and I had a bit of trouble getting the ends to stay together. But in the end, it looked fine.

I cut slits in the ring from the outside about 3/4 of the way to the center.

Then I twisted each section 1/4 turn, so that the filling was visible.

After letting the shaped dough rise for about two hours, I brushed the surface with an egg wash and sprinkled it with more pecans.

I baked the ring in a 350° F oven for about 25 minutes. It looked and smelled terrific when it came out of the oven.

This was an impressive-looking loaf that would be great to serve to company or for a casual brunch. And it was really delicious — soft, gooey with cinnamon, but not overly so. Definitely a dish to make again and again.

Marbled Chocolate Brioche Loaf {ModBak}

The second recipe in the third section of The Modern Baker is another brioche loaf. The basic recipe is similar to Quick Brioche, with the addition of rum and lemon zest. After making the brioche dough, it is divided into three pieces, and one of the pieces is then enriched with bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon.

I patted one of the plain pieces of dough into a five-inch square and set it aside. I did the same with the chocolate dough, then stacked it on top of the plain dough. Finally, I patted out the last piece of plain dough and added it to the stack.

After pressing the dough together, I cut it into three pieces.

Then I cut each strip into about 10 pieces, which I put into a bowl and tossed together.

I added a teaspoon of water, squished the dough into a ball, then pressed it into a loaf pan.

I allowed the dough to rise for two hours. Even though it hadn’t crested the top of the pan, it was ready to bake.

I baked the bread in a 350° oven for 40 minutes. The loaf smelled so good baking, with the chocolate, rum, and butter begging to be tasted.

I cooled the loaf on its side to keep it from deflating.

I sliced into the loaf and liked what I saw. It had a nice even crumb and the marbling looked like the picture in the book.

This was a really delicious bread. The chocolate gave it a wonderful flavor without being cloying sweet. It was good plain, toasted, and with a little marmalade. And after a few days, it made great chocolate bread pudding.

Quick Brioche Braid {ModBak}

The first recipe in the third section of The Modern Baker is a bread with which I am quite familiar, having baked three versions from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and one from Dorie Greenspan’s new book, Around My French Table. What differentiates Nick Malgeri‘s brioche recipe from others I’ve made is that it comes together very quickly, is shaped immediately after mixing, and rises only once.

I made this bread twice. The first time I departed from the recipe in two ways. First, I mixed the dough in the stand mixer instead of the food processor.

As you can see, the dough was very wet. After mixing it, I put the dough in bread pans (the second departure from the recipe, which calls for braiding the dough).

Even though it remained slack, the dough baked up nicely, and I was pleased with the look of the resulting brioche.

As far as the taste goes, I would have to say it wasn’t my favorite of the brioches I’ve made. It tasted fine, but wasn’t exceptional. I made Dorie’s brioche at the same time and liked it better.

I made the first batch of brioche before we actually go to this section of the book, and I decided to remake it, this time following the recipe. So, I mixed the dough in the food processor instead of the mixer. I’m still having the issue of liquids leaking out of the food pro when I use it to make dough, but I’m starting to think it’s either something with my Cuisinart or user error, as others don’t seem to have this problem.

After mixing the dough, I shaped the loaf. The dough was much less slack than the first time I made the recipe and was easy to handle. First, I divided the dough into three pieces, rolled each piece into a rope, and then braided the ropes.

I allowed the bread to proof for about two hours, until it doubled in size.

After brushing the loaf with beaten egg, I baked it in a 350° oven for about 40 minutes, until it was well-risen and golden brown.

The bread smelled amazing. And it looked really nice when I sliced it. The big question, of course, was how it would taste.

Although I didn’t have another brioche to compare this one to, this loaf would stack up well against any of the other recipes I have tried. In fact, given how easy this one is to prepare, it may just become my go-to recipe for brioche.

Coupétade (French-Toast Pudding) {AMFT} {FFwD}

Anyone who knows me knows that I love bread pudding. And those who know me well know I also love French toast, especially baked French toast. In fact, I prefer the baked version to the “real thing”. I’m not much of a morning person, so I like the idea of mixing up the French toast the night before, popping in the oven while I have my first cup of coffee, and having breakfast ready by the time everyone else is up and around.

So, when I found a recipe in Around My French Table that combines both of these into one recipe, I couldn’t wait to try it. I had just made Dorie Greenspan’s brioche and had a loaf left over, just waiting to be made into coupétade.

I began by mixing up the French toast ingredients, which consisted of eggs, milk, and sugar. After soaking the brioche, I cooked it on the griddle in plenty of butter.

After the French toast was finished, I cut each slice in half diagonally, and arranged the pieces in the pan. Then I mixed up the custard ingredients — eggs, sugar, vanilla, and milk. I poured this over the French toast and allowed it soak for a few minutes, so the bread would absorb some of the custard. The recipe called for dried fruit, which I put on half of the pan, as I knew my girls would like it better plain.

I baked the pudding in a water bath for about an hour and a half, until the custard was set. The house smelled amazing while the pudding was baking, and I was excited to try it once it cooled.

So, how did it taste? It was quite good. But not nearly as good as my N’awlins Bread Pudding. In fact, it tasted like one of my baked French toast recipes, which is fine, but not what I was expecting from bread pudding. It seemed more like a breakfast bake than a dessert. And unlike my typical baked French toast, I had gone to the effort of frying the French toast first and so was expecting something more.

So,while I enjoyed it, and we ate most of it over the next few days, this isn’t a recipe I’m likely to repeat. But I will definitely use Dorie’s brioche the next time I make baked French toast or bread pudding.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie. Check out the website to see what others thought of this recipe.

Brioches — Bubble-Top and Loaves {AMFT}

French Fridays with Dorie, the new cooking group dedicated to making weekly recipes from Dorie Greenspan‘s latest book, Around My French Table, doesn’t officially launch until October. The first months’ recipes, chosen for us by Dorie herself, look really great and should be a nice introduction to the book for most people. I, of course, couldn’t wait for the launch of FFwD, so I set out to make a few recipes from AMFT on my own.

The first recipe I tried, Eggplant Caviar, was a hit and had me ready to try more. For my second recipe, I decided to make something I already know and love, Brioche. Having made all three brioche recipes from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, I had an idea what to expect from the dough and resulting bread.

Dorie’s recipe differs from Peter Reinhart’s recipes in that, instead of a sponge, it uses overnight fermentation to develop flavor. As far as butter content, it seems to be somewhere between PR’s Poor Man’s and Middle-Class Brioches.

The dough mixed up fairly quickly in the Kitchen Aid, and after resting for an hour on the counter, it was ready to chill overnight. The next day it looked like this:

There are two shaping options given in the recipe — bubble-top brioches and brioche loaves — and I decided to try them both. The bubble-top brioches are individual brioches made by dropping three small dough balls into brioche molds or cupcake tins.

The loaf is shaped by dividing the dough into four pieces, shaping each into a log, and arranging the logs in the pan.

The loaves proofed for about an hour-and-a-half, until the dough filled the pans.

The bubble-top brioches baked for about 20 minutes; the loaf for about 30, until they were golden brown and well-risen.

The brioches were delicious — buttery and light. They compared quite favorably to PR’s Middle-Class Brioche, my favorite of the three. In fact, I would have to try Dorie’s and PR’s loaves side by side to choose a favorite.

This is definitely a recipe to make again, and another winner from Dorie’s French table.

A Tale of Two (Make that Three) Brioches

When I read about the brioche variations, there was little doubt which one I would choose.  The “Rich Man’s Brioche”, in addition to its name, has the draw of containing a full pound of butter, almost 90% in terms of baker’s percentages.  But if I was going to make such a decadent loaf of bread, I had to do it right.  This meant ordering brioche molds. 

As I looked at the BBA pictures, I realized I already owned a few molds, although when I bought them I had no idea what they were.  I picked them up at a cooking store because I thought they were the perfect size for measuring dry ingredients like yeast and salt on my scale.  I have two sizes of molds, very small and sort of medium-smallish.  I knew these would not be enough for baking the brioche, so I found some online to order.  I ordered a set of four 2 1/2-inch molds, which I think are probably about the same size as my medium-smallish ones; and a 6 1/2-inch mold, to make a loaf (kind of like the one pictured in BBA).

My molds are on the way, but I got to the weekend and decided I had to bake.  I was reading the brioche recipes again and noted that PR describes the Poor Man’s Brioche as making a good pain de mie.  Since I like to bake our sandwich bread, hadn’t used my Pullman pan in a few weeks, and figured it would make killer bread pudding, I decided to go ahead and make the Poor Man’s version this weekend and the Rich Man’s when my pans arrive.

In making the two versions, I was interested in comparing a few things.  First and foremost, the taste.  I wanted to know just how much that extra 3/4 pound of butter would do for the flavor.  And second, I was interested to see the difference in how the doughs handle, as the recipe indicates that the Rich dough can be challenging to handle, while the Poor version is more like French bread dough.

Poor Man’s Brioche

I mixed the Poor Man’s Brioche dough following the BBA recipe, with the exception of the milk.  My milk was bad, so I used water for the milk in the sponge and added powdered milk with the dry ingredients.  The dough was beautiful.  The eggs gave it a rich, golden color, even before adding the butter.  It needed a bit of extra flour during the kneading stage (I kneaded on low speed in my Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer), and the dough was silky and smooth by the end of the kneading period, and much more like the bread dough I am used to than the Rich Man’s dough would turn out (more on that below).  It rose beautifully and right on schedule.

Brioche en Bucket

I used three of my brioche molds and the Pullman pan.  I could tell right away that the dough would not fill the Pullman when it rose and baked, but I decided to use it anyway. 

Buncha Brioche Dough

After proofing, I baked the brioche molds at 400 dF for about 15 minutes.  They looked and smelled fantastic.  Two of them even lived to cool.  Then I baked the loaf at 350 dF for about 40 minutes, until it registered 190 dF on my instant-read thermometer. Since I knew it wouldn’t fill the pan, I left the lid off. The loaves were beautiful.  I especially liked the shiny top crust that the egg wash gave them. 

Brioche and Friends

As for the flavor, the small loaves were a bit dry; perhaps they should have come out of the oven sooner.  The pain de mie loaf was delicious.  Tasting it, I could see how some people described it as “tasting a sweet, buttery cloud”. But alas, it did not live to be sandwich bread, as on the first taste, it screamed out to be made into French toast and bread pudding.  So I cut some thick slices for bread pudding (see the N’awlins Bread Pudding post) and some thinner slices, which I used to make some of the best French toast ever.

Brioche French Toast

I enjoyed this bread more as French toast and bread pudding than just by the slice.  I might make it again for bread pudding, and I am interested in trying it with brie en croute.  But I wouldn’t make it with the intention of using as a sandwich loaf.  My standard pain de mie recipes (white and whole grain) are much better suited for that.

Rich Man’s Brioche

My brioche molds arrived mid-week, so I started the Rich Man’s Brioche dough on Friday evening.  We were planning to go away for most of Saturday, but I gathered from the recipe that when it comes to chilling this dough, longer is better.  

A few things really stand out about this recipe.  First, it calls for a lot of yeast (1 tablespoon instant).  And of course it calls for a perverse amount of butter (one full pound).  I was also surprised to realize that the dough is not kneaded.  Instead, it is mixed, either with the paddle attachment on your mixer (as I did it) or with a spoon.  Finally, I got the impression that this would not be your standard French bread-type dough, but would be much more slack.

I mixed the sponge according to the BBA recipe, then added the eggs (all 5 of them!) and mixed well.  I mixed in the dry ingredients (still using the paddle attachment), then allowed the dough to rest for 5 minutes.  I scraped down the dough, then added one stick of butter and mixed for a minute or so on speed 4.  I repeated the scraping, adding butter, and mixing for each stick of butter.  Then I scraped the bowl and mixed with the paddle attachment on speed 4 for about 6 minutes, stopping to scrape down the dough two or three times.  The dough was very soft and somewhat gooey.

A note on ingredients.  The butter and eggs should be at room temperature.  I always set them out the night before I plan to bake to make sure they are really room temp.  There is nothing worse than waiting for ingredients to warm up when you want to bake!

Mixing Rich Brioche in KA

When I was finished mixing, it was the strangest dough.  It’s difficult to describe the consistency of this dough, but I would say it was almost what you might expect to get if you mixed cake batter and sugar cookie dough.  It was very close to the consistency of my 100% hydration sourdough starter.

Rich Brioche Dough in Bowl

The directions said to put the dough on a baking sheet, but I decided it might keep its shape better in an 8×8 baking pan, so that’s what I used.

Rich Brioche Dough in Le Crueset

I sprayed the parchment with spray oil before adding the dough, and sprayed the top of the dough and my plastic wrap as well.  Then I put the dough in the fridge for a nice, long cool down.

I didn’t get around to baking on Saturday, so I pulled the dough out Sunday morning.  It really rose in the refrigertor.  I would say it almost doubled in size.

Rich Brioche - Risen

PR says to keep the dough very cold, so I cut off a chunk and put the rest back in the fridge.

Cutting Rich Man's Brioche Dough

If I thought the consistency of the dough was strange before, this really took the cake (or should I say, butter?).  The book warned that this was not an easy dough to work with, and indeed it was strange — slippery, but quite mailable.  It felt like shaping cold butter.  I worked quickly, so as not to let the dough get too warm.  From the first chunk I measured 2.5 oz pieces, which I shaped into brioche a tetes for my small molds.  Then I got the dough back out and measured out a one pound chunk for my large mold.  The rest (about 14.5 oz) I put in a standard loaf pan.

Rich Man's - Ready to Proof

I let the dough proof for about two hours, then I brushed the small brioches with egg wash and preheated the oven to 400 dF.  The small loaves took about 20 minutes to bake, and I prepared the larger loaves while the smaller ones were in the oven.  When the small loaves were done baking, I reduced the oven to 350 dF for the large loaves, which I baked for 35 minutes.

See below for the pictures of the final product.  I really liked this bread.  It was rich (bien sur!), with a dense, moist crumb.  It didn’t need any butter and was delicious with orange marmalade.  Will I make it again?  Read on….

Middle-Class Brioche

I hadn’t planned on making all three “classes” of brioche; but so many people were posting about how much they liked the middle-class version that I decided to give it a try.  I mixed up the dough while the Rich Man’s Brioche was proofing.  It was really similar in consistency to the Rich version, but not quite as gooey.  The Middle Class dough was still quite soft, but it felt a bit more like traditional bread dough than the Rich Man’s dough.  I used the same 8×8 pan to bulk ferment the dough.

Middle Class - Ready for Fridge

It didn’t rise quite as much as the Rich Man’s Brioche, but I don’t know if that was a difference in the dough or because it only bulk fermented for about 5 hours.  It definitely rose, though, and looked like it was ready to go.

Middle Class - Risen

I measured and shaped the dough exactly the same as the Rich version and let the dough proof for about the same amount of time.  Here is the dough before and after proofing.

Middle Class - Shaped and Ready for ProofingMiddle Class - Ready to Bake

Again, I baked the Middle-Class loaves as I had the Rich Man’s version, baking the small brioches first, then the larger loaves.  One thing that really surprised me was the oven spring.  Although the dough hadn’t risen as much during the bulk ferment, it looked about the same when it went into the oven.  But here’s what it looked like coming out:

Middle Class Brioche with First Class Oven Spring!

Here are the Rich Man’s loaves (on the left), along with the Middle-Class loaves.  They both came out beautifully, but the Middle-Class loaves won out on oven spring.

All the Pretty Brioches

The crumb looked almost exactly the same (Rich is on the left).

Crumby Crumb Picture

So, how about the taste?  The Middle-Class Brioche was absolutely delicious!  Again, I tried it plain and with marmalade and loved it both ways.  And imagine my surprise when I did a side-by-side comparison of the Rich and Middle-Class breads:  I actually preferred the Middle-Class version!  I thought it tasted richer and more buttery than the Rich Man’s version. 

In the end, I was glad to have tried all three versions.  And I will definitely make the Middle-Class version again (and again, and again).  The Rich bread was really delicious; but for the extra butter and the difficulty working the dough, I think I’ll stick with the Middle Class.  And the Poor Man’s version?  I’d like to try that again to use for brie en croute, as PR recommends.  And I’d bake it just to make bread pudding and French toast with it any day.