13 February 2009

the brioche that made me think I broke my food processor

Vague instructions will never stop me. Alain Ducasse's Grande Livre is very terse, as it's expected that you know the basics. Which I don't - but, it's such an inspiring book that I can't help but try anyway. And it's always worth it. Take the case of a brioche dough. The instructions are essentially: mix, add, knead, let sit, punch down, let rise, bake.

500g flour (i used all purpose)
300g whole eggs (i think this about 6 large eggs)
60g granulated sugar
23g fresh yeast (i used active dry)
12g fine salt
400g butter, softened
2 egg yolks

The instructions, and my thoughts on it.
1. Combine the flour, whole eggs, sugar, salt, and yeast together. I was under the impression that you always had to soak yeast in warm water before you used it. But the recipe didn't mention it all, so I wasn't sure if it was understood or if you really didn't need to proof it. I decided to just follow the instructions literally, and just mixed the yeast in without soaking it in water first.

2. Knead the dough with a mixer and dough hook. I don't have a stand mixer right now, so I used a food processor instead of a stand mixer. This proved to be veeeery interesting. I got a very very liquidy mass.

The -usual- method for making dough with a food processor is to add the dough and proofed yeast in, then add the liquid part (egg/water) in UNTIL the dough starts forming and the food processor becomes "clean". Then you add the solidy stuff, such as butter, and you have your dough.

But in this case, I just mixed it all! And it was very soggy. After mixing for a bit, I went ahead and added the butter in three separate times, and continued to let the processor do its job. Finally, the 2 egg yolks. And it made it even more soggier. But I noticed that it very slowly became less and less soggy the more the food processor was on. So I thought, well, i'll just let it mix until it becomes normal.

I start washing the dishes. And as I am washing, the food processor is on. And I smell something odd. But I don't know what it is, so I keep washing. And the smell gets stronger. So I keep washing, trying to figure out what's going on since there's nothing in the oven or the microwave. And then it becomes quiet because the noise from the food processor stops. Then it hits me - the thing overheated, and I just broke it..... I immediately unplugged it and took out my warm-not-so-soggy-anymore-but-almost-getting-to-the-smooth-and-elastic-dough.

And sadly, this isn't the first time it's happened - I broke a hand mixer once because I was trying to mix a very thick batter and it died on me. So for a good semester I had to whisk and mix by hand - not fun.

3. Let the dough rest for an hour, and punch down.

4. Mold the dough to your desired shape, let it rest and rise again, then bake in a 350F oven until done.

BUT BUT BUT, many hours later, the food processor revived! It came back to life! Important lesson learned: food processor = pulse only, never ever let it run for long periods of time!

So my recommendation is to use a mixer with a dough hook. Or modify the recipe so it isn't so liquidy and you can use a food processor.

I placed my very sticky dough in a bread pan and let the oven do it's job. And it rose like crazy (so I guess yeast doesn't need to always proof first). I froze it, and nothing tastes better in the morning than a slice of toasted brioche. Yum yum! It is extremely soft and flexible. What I mean by flexible is that as I was slicing it, each slice had no structure and would just fall over and fold over itself. But, it never tore! I could just stand it back up and it would be one piece. I'm definitely easily amused by something than that make such extreme bends and not tear at all. Next time, I'll be using a stand mixer so i can bake it when it is smooth and elastic instead of sticky and mushy. But regardless, it still came out absolutely delicious!


chuck said...

Love the story. I never use a food processor. I do most of my doughs by hand. It's the best way if you are learning to make bread. You will start to learn by feel if the dough it ready or not.

Your Brioche looks wonderful.

Sara said...

Great job on this, even in less than ideal conditions :) FYI - proofing the yeast in warm water beforehand is to prove that it is still alive. It is a good safeguard before you bake something with yeast, but not necessary, as you learned here. Check out the brioche posts on my blog if you are interested in other recipes, we have done Thomas Keller and Pierre Herme's.

csquad said...

chuck: thank you! i will try making brioche by hand next time.

sara: and i will definitely check out your brioche posts! this stuff tastes too good to not make more