Sunday, October 2, 2011

brioche & bostock

It's October and it's finally feeling like Fall here on the East Coast. Aaahhhhh.....64 degrees.....I've been longing for the weather to be in the sixties. I absolutely love Fall because the weather calls for hot tea drinking and pastry eating and today was no exception. 

I've been also longing for almond brioche toast and chai tea. Not the most classic combination of flavors or cultures, but sounding all good in my book and soon to be in our tummies. 

Ta da!!! 
My brioche!!! 
I have to admit, I have only made a loaf of brioche bread - once. 
In pastry school. 
Over five years ago. 
When you think of baking bread, especially a loaf of brioche, your head starts to hurt. Well at least mine did, but I sucked it up and broke out my enormous Pasty 1 Cookbook from my days at The French Culinary Institute and had at it. As I was making the brioche dough, I was wondering what and why I was so stressed out about making it. The mixer did all of the work!!! I just had to measure out the ingredients and dump them in the bowl at certain times. No. Big. Deal. So here's the recipe I used with some modifications because I didn't have on hand fresh yeast. Who does, really?

makes one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf or 20-25 individual brioches à tête

500 grams bread flour
70 grams granulated sugar
30 grams fresh yeast or 10 grams dry yeast
50 milliliters water (warm-ish)
5 eggs (preferably large eggs)
2 teaspoons salt (I used kosher salt) 
250 grams unsalted butter, cold and cubed

1 egg
1 tablespoon of heavy cream

1. Put the flour and sugar in a bowl of your tabletop mixer and dry mix using the paddle attachment.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the water. ***If you're using dry yeast, proof in the water for 3-5 minutes until foamy*** Add to dry ingredients.
3. Add eggs to the mixture one @ a time and combine. 
4. Switch to a dough hook.
5. At a low to medium speed, work the dough until it's smooth and satiny. You will need to scrape off the dough hook several times during mixing/kneading. The final dough should completely come away from the sides of the bowl and have a smooth texture.
6. Add the cold butter and incorporate each piece thoroughly, or the pieces of butter will melt during baking, creating a void in the dough. If the butter begins to melt out of the dough while mixing, add a small amount of additional cold butter to bring it back together.
7. Add salt and mix in thoroughly.
8. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it well in plastic wrap and chill it for a minimum of 4 hours. ***I chilled mine overnight*** 
9. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
10. Prepare individual molds or loaf pan by coating the sides and bottom with a fair amount of butter.
11. Shape dough by gently flattening it out and rolling it up like a jelly roll, pinching the end onto itself. Tuck in the sides and place into your prepared pan/s.
12. Proof dough by placing it into your cold oven with a pot of water that has come to a boil or in a warm area. Proof for at least 1 hour.
13. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and heavy cream. Gently brush over proofed dough.
14. Bake until bread is medium to dark brown or until internal temperature reads 160-200 with an instant thermometer.
15. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove from pan/s and cool completely.

Bostock? Yes, I have never heard of almond brioche toast being called bostock either.....But in my quest to find the ultimate recipe for brioche topped with almond cream and toasted almonds I found many recipes on the web as well as on my shelf from my TARTINE BREAD cookbook.

Their recipe called for brushing the bread with an orange simple syrup, but I didn't have any oranges and I felt that since my bread was baked fresh that I didn't need to. But I did have vanilla syrup in my frig and I used that instead. I was also intrigued by their version because they smeared their brioche with jam before covering it up with almond cream. Shall I go on???

Almond Cream
1 1/4 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of brandy 
***I didn't have any brandy on hand, so I added 1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract***

Orange Syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
1/4 cup orange juice
grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons of orange liqueur
***If you are attempting this and you don't have orange blossom water or orange liqueur (not your usual pantry staples), simply omit it***

6 slices of brioche, each about 1/2 inch thick and toasted
3/4 cup orange marmalade, apricot jam, or berry jam
powdered sugar for dusting

To make the orange syrup, in a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, orange blossom water, orange juice and zest. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. When the sugar has dissolved, after about 5 minutes, remove from heat. Stir in the orange liqueur. Let cool to room temperature.

To make the almond cream, combine 1 cup of the sliced almonds, sugar and salt in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add eggs and butter and process to form a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the brandy. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Arrange the brioche toasts on a baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, thoroughly soak the toasts with the syrup until they are very moist. Spread with a layer of jam about 1/8 inch thick and follow with a layer of almond cream about 1/4 inch thick. Top with remaining 1/4 cup sliced almonds. Bake until deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. The almond cream will caramelize, and the almond slices will toast. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.  

***I went a little light on the jam and almond cream and didn't really soak my bread in a lot of syrup. My bostock still tasted great!!!***

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