Lisa’s Letters Home: Brioche, And a Farewell to my Kitchen
Today, we bid farewell to our kitchen. Goodbye, 80s monstrosity with your lack of counter space. So long, painted (peeling) wall tiles. Adieu, junk drawer that we could never fully open. Sayonara…ah anyway, our kitchen is being ripped out today.
What this does mean is that we will be without a kitchen for the next week or so, which should be a bucket of laughs. How do you feed a family of five with no kitchen? You do a shedload of cooking the weeks before and stuff your freezer full of Things You Can Microwave (or BBQ.) As I was coming up to my first anniversary at one of my writing gigs, I thought baked goods would be a good way to celebrate. I also thought I might as well see the old kitchen out with a bang and make something I’ve never attempted before: brioche.
Now here’s the thing – I’m really terrible at anything involving bread or pastry. I am not just saying this to be modest, I genuinely make terrible, inedible bread. I’ll chalk it up to my warm hands, inability to knead properly, and impatience. When a bread recipe calls for it to be bunged into a mixer with very little kneading, I’m all over it.
Dan Lepard’s brioche recipe looks somewhat daunting at first glance, but it’s actually not a hugely “technical” recipe. What it does require is time and a bit of forward planning. I made both Dan’s brioche and his brioche twists.
Amazingly, everything turned out very nicely. The bread came out a bit crumbly and tricky to slice, but I think I didn’t bake it quite long enough (my oven has a mind of its own.) The twists were delicious. Crispy, light, buttery, and like something you’d pay real cash money for. My workmates loved everything, and now hopefully my contract will keep getting renewed.
Follow Dan’s instructions and you won’t go wrong. Just a couple of notes to help you along (and many thanks to Dan who answered all of my questions):
* I started to make the dough in my KitchenAid with the dough hook, but switched to the regular blade when adding the butter. It seemed to mix it in more thoroughly.
* The brioche dough might look horribly wrong, but don’t panic. Mine never really went smooth and elastic as I would expect a bread dough to look, and it went rock solid after being in the fridge due to all the butter. Glorious, glorious butter.
* Don’t let the dough soften too much when you shape it before it goes into the tin. The butter does melt surprisingly quickly, especially with warm hands and 25C heat.
* Dan says you can freeze the dough after shaping for 2-3 weeks; leave it to thaw and rise before baking. He bakes the brioche twists and freezes them, then just microwaves one when he wants to eat it. How he doesn’t just eat them all in one go is beyond me.
* I didn’t have any chocolate for the twists, so I did what any sensible woman would do and slathered it in Nutella instead. I did a layer of Nutella, then the custard, and no nuts as I didn’t have any in the cupboard.
Good riddance, old kitchen. May your new counterpart bring us more baked goods, for the sake of my continuing employment.
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