Sunday, August 10, 2008

Blueberry Brioche

It sure looks like summer is ending very soon. The weather has been pretty rainy for the past 2 weeks and infact cool at night and early morning that I have to put another layer of clothings on the kids. The rainy days always makes me want to cook something hearthy and bake breads. This summer has been pretty cool compared to all the previous summers that I have spent in the states and I am not complaining.

Before our Vermont trip last week, Curry unexpectedly asked me to make him Brioche and he intended to take it along the trip so we can munch in the car. I looked at him in amazement... sometimes I wonder if he really thinks I am a superwoman and of course he didn't get his wish and probably if he has asked me to pack him a sandwich, that was still do-able but to bake a brioche one day before heading out for a mini vacation is mission impossible to me. But he got me started with the idea and I set out to look for a good recipe as soon as we returned from our lovely Vermont trip.

I adapted a recipe from my favorite English cooking magazine, BBC Good Food. If anyone comes across this magazine, be sure to pick it up as its recipes are simple enough for an amateur baker like myself and the results are always satisfying. Tweaking it a little makes my Brioche a big hit for today's afternoon tea. Although I started with the dough last night, I didn't rush it for breakfast as the dough rising part was the critical part in producing a good quality Brioche.

Brioche is a French style bread and the original shape of this bread is quite whimsical in my opinion, where the base is baked in a mould similar to a fluted muffin tin and a separate round knob of dough is attached to the top part of the base and baked together. Its texture is more cake like as it contains more eggs and butter, while the golden brown color that it yields comes from a generous glaze of egg wash before the baking process.

My friend, Crazymommy who prefers to use the breadmaker machine rather than getting all messy like me introduced me to a product called Wheat Gluten, sold in the local groceries. This product has the exact appearance as usual flour except that the starch content has been removed and it assists in the making of a softer texture in bread as well as giving the end product a better shelve life. As I was still having trouble using the Water roux method as used in the making of numerous Japanese and Asian style bread which yields the super soft and fluffy textures, I was very interested to give this wheat gluten product a try in my Brioche as I know I will not like the cake like texture as in its original form.

For a 2 loaves recipe, I added 8 tsp of the wheat gluten in the preparation of the dough. The dough was very sticky and being myself, my optimism started to waver a bit half way. The recipe stated to let the dough rest overnight in the fridge and I opted my cool oven instead. At the time of the shaping of the dough, it was less sticky but I still had to use the plastic gloves to divide and roll it into little round shapes, measuring approximately 30g each with the help of a floured board. I inserted the blueberries randomly and let the shaped dough rested and rised for another 3 hours before baking it for 25 minutes at 350'F.

Indeed, the wheat gluten makes magic and the bread texture turned out soft. Although I am still in the dark on how it works to create such soft strands, I certainly love this product and will stock up on it for my future bread making. The rolls were uniform in size and easily tear apart from each other. The biggest food critic, Curry was happy that he finally got his brioche and for the rest of us, we are just all too happy that I have finally unlocked the secret to soft texture bread, the easy way as compared to the water roux method.

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