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La mademoiselle brioche

One of the sweet leavened products par excellence

28 March 2022

Friends of Erre4m, welcome to this new post. Today we are talking about sweet leavened products...in this case about: BRIOCHE.

The term is French and indicates the breakfast companion par excellence.  

The brioche is nothing more than a simple bread dough enriched with milk and butter... and so it is, only the simple addition of these two ingredients makes the leavened dough much tastier. After all, it is the addition of fat that, in the first place, amplifies the taste of food... of any food.

The success and origin of the brioche, like almost all bakery and pastry products, has its roots in the distant past when milk and butter were not impossible ingredients to find.

At the time, the sweetness to this bread was added in the garnishing or final filling. The garnishing consists of covering the brioche with syrup and sugar grains or almond icing, while the filling consists of fruit preserves or pastry cream.

Modern brioche recipes see the introduction of sugar in the dough, whole eggs or yolks, cream, cocoa or chocolate, you name it.  

Before suggesting a brioche recipe I will give you some information on the ingredients needed. 

FLOUR

For leavened products such as brioche, enriched with various ingredients such as butter, sugar, egg yolks or eggs, the most suitable flour is one with a high content of gliadins and glutenins, i.e. those insoluble proteins that create gluten, an elastic structure that holds the carbon dioxide produced by yeast fermentation within the dough. 
The percentage of protein that leavening flour should have is 14-14.5% with a W of 300.

EGGS AND EGG YOLKS

The role of eggs is to moisturise the dough and allow the flour proteins to bind into the gluten. For the preparation of leavened products, the yolk is normally preferred over the albumen, as the latter facilitates the cooling of the products. The yolk, on the other hand, aids dough formation and structure due to its fat (32%) and lecithin (0.6-0.8%) content.

In addition, if brushed into the product to be frozen, it increases its shelf life by preventing it from drying on the surface and helps to achieve even colouring during cooking.

THE FAT PART

The role of the fat part in leavened products is threefold:

  1. it generates flavour to the product 
  2. it defines the structure 
  3. it increases shelf life

The fatty part to be used is undoubtedly butter. It gives a characteristic taste thanks to the 82% fat it contains; the greater its quantity, the denser the structure of the baked product.

This diagram may help in understanding the role of the fat-yeast part:

1kg flour dough with 20g yeast 
200g butter > 2-2.5h rising time
500g butter > 4-4.5h rising time

SUGAR

The notable function of sugar is to act as a nutrient for the yeast in the dough.
It helps the ingredients come together thanks to its binding power due to its viscosity which is generated after it is dissolved in the dough.
Eventually the sweet side can be replaced by honey, in the amount of 1-2%, which increases the colouring during baking and the shelf life of the product.

YEAST

Yeast is the ingredient responsible for the fermentation of the dough, a process during which simple sugars are incorporated by the yeast cells with the subsequent production of carbon dioxide, which causes the dough to swell; or the production of acetic acid, i.e. the production of the flavours and aromas that the dough develops when placed in a cold environment.

The fermentation temperature of the dough is the real crucial point for the success of a leavened product. If we want a product that produces fragrances, we must ferment it in a cold environment; but if we want the dough to rise, i.e. let the yeast breathe and consume oxygen, the temperature must be between 24 and 27°C.

The yeast must be fresh and cold from the fridge.

LEVITATION

The final leavening periods are delicate points in the process. Yeasts increase their vitality as the temperature increases and slow down as it decreases.

Therefore, the ideal temperature is 26-27°C, the aim being to obtain a soft and alveolate product.

For home use, one can opt for using a warm oven in winter with a bowl of hot water placed in the bottom; or place the products in tall containers and cover with cling film. This creates a microenvironment in which the yeasts themselves automatically generate moisture, so room temperature in summer and the help of the lukewarm oven in winter. 

500 g flour W 350                        
105 g egg white                         
 20 g yeast                                    
100 g butter at 20 °C
 90 g sugar                                  
   5 g salt
   8 g acacia honey                     
 45 g fresh whole milk
 95 g yolk                                 
Vanilla flavours

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

PROCEDURE

1. Dissolve the yeast, sugar and honey in warm milk at 20-22°C
2. Knead with flour and knead until firm
3. Add egg yolks and egg whites with the salt inside in 2-3 steps
4. Incorporate butter, cut into cubes at 20 °C, a little at a time, continuing to knead until the dough is smooth
5. Place the dough in a lightly buttered bowl and leave to rise in a cool place 15-16°C for approx. 8h; or in a warm place (25°C) for 3-4h
6. Stretch the dough into a loaf and cut into 35g pieces, forming the desired brioche shapes and polish with beaten egg
7. Place on a drip tray and cover with cling film so that they retain their moisture and leave to rise until they double in volume
8. Polish a second time and bake at 190°C until golden brown

 

Blog by Enrico Gumirato pastry chef and moulder