Tuesday, November 01, 2011
After a week in Kuala Lumpur it's good to be back home where my own kitchen is. Only I couldn't get pass making just some honey lemon the pass two days because I was immediately struck with the mother of all flu bugs once I unpacked. Not that I'm complaining, better sick now than last week, when our Diwali festive cookout saw Vijay, his family and I raging in their family kitchen since three in the morning the night before, without sleep and much time to spare. While friends were completely smitten with our mutton peratal, ayam masak merah (recipe soon), chicken dalca, dhosai and briyani, we were happy to come back with just a few containers of muruku. I certainly hope those of you who celebrated had a less stressful adventure but equally delightful - if not better - gastronomical experience.
You may have noticed that there aren't any flops posted here at Life is Great. That is now rectified with this bread. Only because it's not a complete flop, the recipe is flawless. Just a really dark bread, left a few minutes too long in the oven while I was wrestling with my laundry at the less glamorous corner of my kitchen. That, and my inability (at that time) to really tell if the brioche was done. So now I'll tell you 15 minutes is all it takes to cook this baby, as long as your oven is accurate. However, if you still end up with something like mine due to some other things/people/disaster pulling away your attention, fear not. Just slice yourself a thick piece, slather on the butter and take a bite. Chances are your loaf, like ours, despite eggless and vegetarian friendly, may not see the light of the next day.
Brioche, no eggs, tangzhong, coconut milk - not exactly things you'd put together but Bee got me curious after raving about 85C's sweet, fluffy brioche. This is really only the fourth time I've attempted bread baking. While the rest of my baking friends have played with their tangzhong starters while making cute little buns, wholemeal loaves and fancy dinner rolls; yours truly, after a home-reared starter sourdough disaster earlier this year, stayed away from bread baking till now. It has been so long, I had to check if my packages of yeast were still alive.
Satisfying outcome aside, let me tell you though, I would have to dismiss Vijay's "This is the best bread you've ever baked!" verdict. I don't think it's fair to compare a buttery, indulgent brioche with a cream cheese and lemon curd stuffed bread and a honey challah. Another brioche maybe, one with lots of eggs and even more butter, one you've possibly made and can't stop talking about. Let me know your secret. If you're curious though, this one wouldn't disappoint. I highly recommend doubling the recipe to avoid ending up like my other half ("No more bread ah?").
Brioche (Tangzhong Method) [Printer Friendly Version]
Adapted barely from Celine Steen's Have Cake Will Travel, tangzhong preparation method referenced from Shirley and Pei-Lin.
Yield: 1 standard loaf/2 mini loaves/8 mini brioches/4-8 waffles
Notes: This post was submitted to YeastSpotting.
Changes I made - I experimented Celine's recipe with the standard 1 part flour-5 parts water tangzhong just to see what would come out and also used regular butter instead of non-dairy. Since we finished the bread by breakfast time the next day, I didn't have the chance to see if the tangzhong approach would be able to keep the bread soft and fluffy for a few days.
To shape alternative loafs or minis, Celine's recipe comes with details. As per noted by the author, this is not a recipe to be attempted by hand but you may use a bread machine (on dough setting) or a food processor (with a dough blade) if you don’t have a stand mixer. For best results, allow maximum time for the second proofing, you will not regret your patience.
For the tangzhong:
- 1/2 cup/120 ml water
- 24 grams plain flour
For the brioche:
- 1/2 cup/120 ml fresh coconut milk (first fresh press or canned, at room temperature)
- 3 tablespoons/36 grams castor sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour (if possible, weigh instead of measure)
- 1 tablespoon/12 grams instant yeast (or 16 grams active dry yeast)
- 4 tablespoons/56 grams cold butter, cubed into 4 portions
- Non-stick cooking spray
Prepare the starter: In a small saucepan, mix the flour and a about 3 tablespoons of water to dissolve completely, without any lumps. Add the remaining water and place the pan over medium low heat to cook. Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon. As the mixture becomes thicker and more opaque (like a starchy glue), continue to stir until lines appear in it as trails left over by the spoon. Alternatively you can check the temperature with an instant read thermometer and stop cooking as soon as the mixture reaches 65°C.
Remove from heat, transfer to a clean bowl and immediately cover with cling wrap, the wrap touching the surface to prevent a 'skin' from forming on the surface. Leave to cool to room temperature. At this point, if you're not using the tangzhong starter immediately, you can put it into the fridge for several hours. It can also be chilled overnight (which was what I did). When you are ready to make the bread, bring the starter to room temperature before mixing. The starter can be stored up to 2 days, discard if the color turned grey.
Prepare the bread dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the tangzhong starter (at room temperature), coconut milk, sugar and salt. When mixture is just combined, add flour and yeast. Mix on medium speed until the ingredients are well combined. Mix for another 2 minutes after that. Add the butter, one cube (1 tablespoon) at a time. Continue to mix on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes, making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to incorporate any stray bits of butter. The done dough will look like a batter, slightly sticky and not really coming together into a ball. Do not panic.
With a spatula, bring the dough together into the center of the bowl. Cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and let stand for 45 minutes at an ambient temperature to rest (away from draft, heat and/or chill). The dough may not look doubled after 45 minutes, don't worry - the resting period is to gently relax it during the first proof. Gently deflate the dough with a spatula, then gather it again into the center of the bowl. Tightly cover with plastic wrap again, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours (up to 18 hours is best, which was what I did). The dough should be about double its size, really cold and stiff after the second proof. Use a rubber spatula to gently deflate the stiff dough again.
To make an 8-bun-loaf like mine: Divide the dough into 8 portions (about 71-grams each, no I didn't weigh), shape them into rounds. Arrange the balls in an 8x4-inch (20x10-cm) or smaller greased loaf pan. Moisten your hands and gently smooth out the top, if required. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until about doubled (mine took about 1 hour 45 minutes, though it really could've gone for another 15). The time depends the dough's temperature and your proofing environment.
About 1 hour before the proofing time is up, preheat oven to 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6. Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the dough. Bake the brioche for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the loaf reaches a deep golden brown color on the top (mine was about 2-3 minutes over as I was doing my laundry, you should check at the 15 minute mark). Carefully remove from the pan, transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.
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