Monday, November 23, 2009

B is for Brioche






There is a sentiment/comment/reprimand that I hear on occasion...okay, well, maybe a little more frequently than "on occasion."  It has something to do with crossing the line, a phrase I dislike and a behavior for which I am rarely sorry.  Let's say, for example, that maybe a few friends are talking about music, and then maybe the topic shifts to, oh, say...country music, and then maybe The Judds are mentioned (well, why wouldn't they, the color of Wynonna's hair demands attention), and then maybe Nik says something about how it seemed like the Judds Farewell Tour lasted for about 3 years...chuckle chuckle chuckle, end of conversation.  Um, no, I don't think so, I cannot just let that one slip by...so, just maybe I suggest a possible (graphic) regretful comment that Mrs. Judd may have made when finding out she had Hepatitis C.  Which undoubtedly is followed by a laugh/a groan/then another laugh/and a final groan, and then I hear it...You had to, didn't you...you had to cross the line. 
Or, for example, when a longtime local TV news anchorwoman appears on our television in high definition with bangs (at her age?) and more than her daily allotment of make-up, so I casually mention that she looks like a tribeswoman from one of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon who went to the big city to become a prostitute.  Sure, he's laughing AND he agrees, but he also implies that I crossed the line.
But it isn't limited to verbage or spontaneous commentary.  F'rinstance, there's the annual Halloween battle.  Halloween...an international holiday that exists, as far as I'm concerned, for crossing the line, for pete's sake, and yet, I get shot down year after year.  Why?  Because instead of appearing at J and T's party as the overdone and predictable "Diana Ross and The Supremes" (yawn), apparently I cross the line when I want to dress as "Diana Ross And The White Supremacists."  Come on, it's Halloween!!!

I could go on, and apparently that's the point, sometimes I do go on...a bit much, some might suggest.  Perhaps it's really just a matter of editing.  There are those who edit prior to speaking.  I, on the other hand, sometimes, allow my listeners to make the choice for themselves, and thus provide them with the unedited/unfiltered version of my thoughts, from which they can choose to respond/react/revolt/retreat. 
But, to be honest, really...it's almost always just for laughs.  I have always said that I will gladly sacrifice a meaningful conversation for a really good one-liner.  Personality flaw?  Avoidance behavior?  Politically incorrect? Sophomoric?  Sure, maybe, probably.  But, say what he wants, Nik still laughs...when I am the one crossing the line. 

Brioche is a rich, heavenly, wonderful medium with which to cross culinary lines, because it crosses lines by its very existence.  Pastry chefs consider brioche a cake, while for bakers it is certainly a bread.  Rich with eggs and butter, legend has it that (the tragically out of touch) M. Antoinette actually said "Let them eat brioche" in reponse to the peasants' lack of bread.  Crossing the line, when referring to food, might also be called gilding the lily, because what brioche does not need is an additional layer of richness.  But one bite of a soft buttery brioche filled with a vanilla pastry cream, and the concept of need is irrelevant/out the window, and we can be glad for those who cross lines.  

Brioche
Yield:  Approx 20 small brioche

AP Flour.......................................500 grams
Water...........................................50 grams
Sugar............................................70 grams
Eggs............................................250 grams
Salt..............................................12 grams
Yeast............................................30 grams
Butter (softened).............................250 grams
Egg Wash
Turbinado Sugar
1.  Combine yeast and water in mixer bowl, let set about 5 minutes until rehydrated.
2.  Combine dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients and eggs to yeast mixture and mix with paddle attachment for 12 minutes.  (This builds the strength of the dough).
3.  Add the butter to the dough, bit by bit, with the paddle attachment incorporating the dough slightly as you go.  Don't dawdle -- get that butter into the dough.
4.  Beat for approx 6 minutes on medium speed, until the butter is fully incorporated into the dough.  (It may take a few minutes more or less)  The dough will be soft and silky.
5.  Scrape dough into a bowl, cover and let chill at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

When ready to bake...
1.  Prehat oven to 350.
2.  Butter 20 muffin cups (or small brioche molds, if you have them)
3.  Divide dough into 2 ounce pieces.

4.  Roll the dough into a ball, then into a bowling pin laying on its side (using the side of your little finger), then into a sombrero, then place in the buttered muffin cups - folding the rim of the sombrero up and a little around the peak of the sombrero (see picture).
5.  Cover with plastic and let rise about an hour, until they are puffy and almost rise above the rim of the muffin tin. 
6.  Brush gently with an egg wash, sprinkle with Turbinado sugar, and bake for approx 20 minutes (until golden).

7.  Remove from muffin tins carefully (you may have to loosen the sides with a small, thin spatula).
If you are crossing the line/gilding the lily:
1.  Slice off the cap of the brioche. 
2.  Gently remove the interior crumb from the base of the brioche.

3.  Fill with a spoonful or two of pastry cream (see recipe).  (Add a few sliced strawberries in the base of the brioche and atop the pastry cream if you have them.)
4.  Replace the cap of the brioche, serve and enjoy.

Pastry Cream
Yield:  2 1/2 cups

Whole Milk...............................2 cups
Sugar......................................1/2 cup, divided
Salt........................................1/4 tsp
Cornstarch................................3 1/2 Tbl
Eggs........................................1 whole
Egg Yolks..................................2
Butter......................................2 Tbl
Vanilla Extract............................3/4 tsp

1.  In medium saucepan, bring milk and half the sugar to a simmer.
2.  Combine the salt, cornstarch, and remaining sugar in medium bowl.  Mix in egg and egg yolks.
3.  Slowly add the warmed milk to the egg mixture, whisking continually.
4.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat until it begins to bubble, stirring/whisking continually.  Let it bubble for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and add the butter and the vanilla, stirring until it is combined.
3.  Scrape pastry cream out of saucepan, into medium bowl.  Plac ein ice bath, and place platic wrap directly on the top of the pastry cream.  Let cool then refrigerate.


1 comment:

Linda said...

You will sacrifice a meaningful conversation for a good one-liner? You speak first and (sometimes) regret later? That behavior is practically the definition of "Slauson". As Megan once said, "You and Grandpa will lie when you tell a story to get a better laugh." To which Dad and I replied, "What's the matter with that?" I'm still not sure . . .