Brioche & Croissants

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I especially appreciated my quiet ride into the city today after yesterday's craziness! Wasn't the weather BEAUTIFUL?! I would have loved to go to the beach and go for a nice long run, but that'll have to wait until Saturday because today was all about baking brioche and croissants.

My partner wasn't there today so I had to do everything on my own. I noticed I was a bit sloppier than normal because I was trying to keep pace with the other groups, but overall I did pretty well! We started out by finishing our croissant dough that we started yesterday. When I looked at the recipe yesterday, I was under the impression we had to go through a similar laminating procedure as the puff pastry (not a fun thing). However, the croissants were A LOT easier since we took a shortcut by using the glorious Kitchen Aid mixer to cream our butter and flour. This was a billion times easier than pounding it out by hand. Also, the dough was so much easier to roll out.. so easy that we didn't even need a rolling pin for some of it.

After I laminated the butter into my dough (and doing some folding and rolling to create the layers), we let our doughs sit in the fridge while we worked on our brioche. Later on, we took our croissant dough out and formed classic croissants and petits pains au chocolat, which were just rolled with bittersweet chocolate batons. Here were just some of my regular and chocolate croissants.. they were so flaky!! I LOVED the chocolate ones!

For the brioche, we took out the dough that we completed yesterday and formed 3 different types of brioche. First, I made a classic brioche a tete. "Tete" means "head" in French, so this tiny roll has a small ball on top that acts as the head to the roll. This is the best part, since you can pull it apart from the rest of the roll. I formed the dough into a mold and Chef showed us how to strategically place the head on top. We proofed these in the proofer (which is temperature controlled with moist heat) before baking them. We also proofed the croissants and other brioche doughs before baking them so they could have a final rise before the baking process.

The other two brioche were completely up to us. I decided to grate up some gruyere cheese and make a ham & cheese brioche. I rolled out some brioche dough into a rectangle and lightly spread on dijon. Next, I layered on the ham, cheese, and a sprinkle of herbs de provence and carefully rolled it up. After freezing it for about 10-15 minutes, I sliced it up, proofed it and baked it. I actually almost burnt these because I completely forgot about them (the downside to not having a partner--you sometimes forget about items in the oven). Thankfully, chef caught them in time. They are a little darker than I would've liked them, but they were still really good.

The last brioche was a simple brioche loaf. I formed the dough into several small balls that I tightly placed inside the loaf pan. After proofing and baking, they rose together and formed this beautiful loaf:

It turned out wonderfully brown on top and golden in the middle. I remembered once I got home to get a picture of the inside of this loaf:

Brioche is a wonderful wonderful thing. It is such a rich, buttery, flavorful bread that can be used in so many ways. It reminds me a lot of my mother's special Easter bread (ahem, I believe it's almost Easter, mom.. time to start baking!)


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