Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tropizenne part one: no-knead Brioche

The other day we received an invite to a pot-luck dinner which was very interesting. "We're asking each person (family) to bring a dish that reminds them of some special place they've been to or lived in the world," it read.

I started wracking my brain to think of something we could bring that was interesting and vegetarian, as usually no one else brings a vegetarian main dish to these types of dinners and I wanted to make sure Mahesh had something to eat.

After a lot of thinking, the dish I wanted to make the most was a dessert called Tropizenne. It's a pastry we discovered in the south of france, basically pastry cream sandwiched inside of a brioche bun with sugar sprinkled on top. (Brioche bread is just a rich bread made with eggs, butter, and honey). So simple but really the most memorable sweet thing we ate on our last trip to France. I've never seen it in any restaurant or pastry shop here in Vancouver, so in order to ever eat it again, short of going to France I would have to learn how to make it. This sounded like the perfect opportunity.

When I told Mahesh I wanted to make it, brioche bread and all, and he thought I was crazy. But I found a no-knead Brioche recipe, and I decided to make a sample brioche just to see if I could. If I could do that, the rest will be easy.

I almost threw out the dough because the yeast granules didn't look like they dissolved and I was afraid the final bread wouldn't rise, but I decided that it would be just as easy to throw it out after I baked it. I am happy to report that the final brioche turned out great! I will share the recipe below, and next week try and make the whole pastry.

No-knead Brioche

makes 1 Brioche loaf

250 g French Type 55 flour / all purpose flour / plain flour
100 g fresh dairy butter, melted
70 g water at room temperature
2 organic eggs (medium, about 110 g)
50 g runny honey (flower /acacia)
5.5 g / 1 teaspoon salt
3 g / 1 teaspoon instant yeast

-- egg yolk for brushing

-- 1 handful of pearl sugar (or sliced almonds) -- This is a special kind of "puffed" sugar used is French pastries. It looks like "rice crispies" and has about the same light texture and crunch. It's very difficult to find this type of sugar, but worth the effort to make your Tarte Tropézienne look authentic. The only luck I've had in San Francisco is buying some from a local French bakery.

Making the Brioche

1) If you use granulated yeast like I do, put the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit for 5 minutes to dissolve a bit.
2) In a larger bowl, combine eggs, honey, salt and melted butter, yeast/water mixture and whisk, somewhat vigorously, for about 30 seconds. Sift the flour into the mixture. Again, with enthusiasm, whisk for 30 seconds until your dough looks smooth and homogeneous. Cover your bowl and let the dough rest for two hours at room temperature.
3) Take the dough out of the bowl and onto a floured work surface and do one or two stretch and folds (full fold ones, left over right, right over left, bottom over top, top over bottom; see Weekend Bakery's bread movies to observe this technique if you are not familiar with it). If your dough is very ‘elastic’ and cooperative, do a few, if it starts to resist you can just stop.

4) Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with clingfilm and take it to the fridge where it will stay for 24 to 48 hours.

5)  Take the dough out of the fridge. Now it is time to shape. You can choose any shape you want but for tropizenne you want EITHER 4 inch buns, or one large flat round loaf. I am doing one large flat round loaf, so I made a circle about 8" around and 1" high, on a silpat-covered baking sheet.

6) Cover and leave to proof for 2 to 3 hours, depending on the temperature of the dough and of the room.You are looking for it to double in volume. It is best to cover the brioche with something that does not stick to the dough or weighs it down.

7) When dough has risen, brush it with egg yolk and sprinkle the top with the crystallized sugar if using.

7) Preheat your oven at 190ºC / 375ºF. Brush the brioche with some egg wash before you put it in the oven. Bake at 190ºC / 375ºF for about 10 minutes, then turn down the thermostat to 160ºC / 320ºF and bake for another 15 minutes. If the top browns too quickly or gets too dark, cover it with some aluminum foil to protect it.

8) After taking it out of the oven, brush it, with some melted butter directly after baking. Then leave to cool completely before slicing it. The brioche keeps very well for a few days (in container or bag) and even after that it can be given some oomph by toasting it lightly.

I thought it was great, and I wasn't the only one. 

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