Life is Great

The Delicious Appreciations of Pick Yin

Not exactly predictable.
Has enough brains for codes
(but can be completely clueless on other more important matters).
Likes her Joe (and her man?) black, her chocolate dark and her food spicy.
“Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu.” — Seneca

Total Posts   191      Last Updated   23 November 2015 12:00 PM (GMT +8)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Brioche (Tangzhong Method)

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.

16 Comments on Brioche (Tangzhong Method)

It's gorgeous la... dark or not. Curious, can you taste the coconut milk in the bread?

Posted by Anonymous Sherie @ Maameemoomoo, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:52:00 PM  

Looks absolutely delicious and fab food styling too!

Posted by Anonymous Catchy Chan, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:53:00 PM  

it is that time of year again where it's so cold that the only way to remedy it is to turn on the oven. this is exactly like something i would fiddle around with to keep the chill at bay, either making it or chowing on it.

Posted by Anonymous Lan, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:53:00 PM  

A very different brioche recipe! I like the concept very much.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:53:00 PM  

Hi! That was me! Anh @anhsfoodblog

Posted by Anonymous, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:54:00 PM  

Hi Anh! Do try it... I was pleasantly surprised. Goes to show some vegan recipes can be really good.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:54:00 PM  

Sherie: Well, still, nicely golden brown would've been perfect. You get a small hint of it in the bread, it's still all very much the butter taste. I would say the coconut milk flavor replaces the egg in this one.

Catchy: Thank you!

Lan: Ahhh, how I wish we get cold days here. I'd be using the oven everyday I tell you.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:55:00 PM  

Interesting that you tried the tangzhong method on brioche. Looks yum that's for sure!

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:55:00 PM  

Anon: Thank you!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:55:00 PM  

I thought these look very nice. I have wanted to make a brioche bread for the longest time... I know brioche is rich in milk and butter but what proportion of these makes a bread a brioche?

Posted by Anonymous shirley@kokken69, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:55:00 PM  

Shirley: You made me google Brioche. :D

So the deal is this bread is classed as a Viennoiserie (yeasted dough similar to bread but with added ingredients - eggs, butter, milk, cream, sugar). Brioche in particular is high in egg and butter content.

A typical recipe has flour to butter ratio of 2:1 but it can vary from 3:2 to 4:1. This recipe is 5:1 but is surprisingly buttery due to the absense of eggs I believe. Thomas Keller's highly regarded recipe ratio is about 4 1/3: 1 1/4 (in cups, I know) but uses 6 large eggs. I'm going to try his recipe next, using the tangzhong method if I can help it.

This one is definitely a keeper for vegetarians, we had no trouble finishing it up in a jiffy.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:56:00 PM  

I'm not a true vegan myself, but I'm pretty sure butter isn't on the list of acceptable things to eat. Can coconut oil or or something else be substituted to make it vegan?

Thanks! Cheryl :)

Posted by Blogger Little Z., at Apr 19, 2012, 4:39:00 AM  

Cheryl: The original vegan recipe I linked to here uses non-dairy butter, which is vegan. You can use that or margarine.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Apr 19, 2012, 10:20:00 AM  

Hi, am wondering, can I replace the coconut milk with full cream milk instead?

Posted by Anonymous Jean, at May 9, 2013, 11:12:00 AM  

Jean: Sorry for the late reply! Give it a shot, I should think it's fine, but make sure it's full fat milk. By the way, you can't really taste the coconut milk, if that is your concern.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at May 10, 2013, 10:10:00 AM  

Thanks for the recipe. You mention 85C's brioche in your post. In your opinion, does this taste anything like that? I'm dying to find a copycat recipe for their brioche and yours seems to be the only one that turns up on Google.

Posted by Anonymous Brian, at Mar 13, 2015, 8:48:00 AM  

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