Baking for Bookworms: Mini Brioche from Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde by Thomas Wright

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Brioche is one of my absolute favorite breads–it’s light and buttery and makes the best French toast in the world. But I’ve never made it before, so I was happy to look down my list and see that I could use it for a baking post.

There’s usually not much mention of food in nonfiction. And in a book about Oscar Wilde’s books, there was definitely not going to be much food mentioned at all. This particular book had only two references, and they were references based on what Oscar Wilde had scribbled (or dribbled–some jam) in the margins of his notes:

“In the middle of his reading notes he has drawn a doodle of a large and delicious looking brioche.”            155

This just goes to show that delicious food enters into even the most didactic reader and writer’s mind.

With that in mind, I tried to recreate the classic brioche shape on a smaller scale using a muffin tin (and without the use of the specialty baking pan). I thought that the tin would help make this recipe more friendly for those that don’t have an immense stock of bakeware. I also just love miniature foods.

This is a time consuming recipe since the dough has to rest over night, but it’s well worth the effort and they look charming, even when they’re a little lopsided like mine.

This recipe is slight adapted from Martha Stewart’s video. This recipe makes 8 mini brioche, but you can feel free to double the recipe. The recipe is written for a stand mixer, but if you don’t have one, you can always knead by hand, which I quite enjoy anyway.

Mini Brioche

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lukewarm milk (plus one tablespoon for the wash)
  • 1 packet yeast (1/4 oz)–Martha uses fresh, but I used instant–anything will work
  • 3 eggs (plus one egg yolk for the wash, if you double the recipe, you still only need one told, just add more milk)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 oz flour (about 2 cups unsifted)
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Put the yeast on top of the milk and let it proof for about five minutes (if your yeast is not frothy after 5-7 minutes, it’s probably too old and you should get new yeast before you go to all the trouble and find your bread won’t rise).

In a bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl) briefly whisk together eggs, salt, and flour. Using the dough hook attachment, begin kneading these together for about 1-2 minutes (or mix by hand).

Add the yeast and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Bring the speed up to medium and continue kneading for 5-10 more minutes or until the dough stops being so sticky and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. The dough is pretty soft, so if at the end of the 10 minutes it’s still a little sticky, go ahead with the next step, and the final kneading should take care of it.

Mix together the softened butter and the sugar and incorporate into the dough a little at a time. Then continue kneading for another 5-10 minutes. It should be smooth and shiny.

Place in a greased bowl and let rise, covered with plastic wrap, for two hours or until it doubles in size.

Take your dough and lifting it out of the bowl, let it drop back into the bowl several times to deflate it (this is probably my favorite part). Cover it with plastic wrap again and put in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.

In the morning, or whenever you come back to it, butter 8 sections of a muffin tin. Remove your dough from the bowl and divide it into 8 equal pieces. From each piece, remove a quarter . Roll the remaining dough into a ball. Pinch the ball so that it makes a large size crater or well in the middle (if you use a large crater, your middles won’t be as lopsided as mine). Roll the small chunk into a ball and place in the middle of the well. Repeat with all the dough and place in the buttered muffin tin.

Make and egg wash by mixing one egg yolk with one tablespoon of milk. Brush the egg wash over the mini brioches and store the leftover wash in the fridge to use again later.

Let the dough rise again, covered with plastic wrap, for 60-90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Bake brioche for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to 375F for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the tops are a deep golden brown and the internal temp is 205F (if you don’t have a thermometer, bake them closer to the 10 minute mark. You can touch the brioche right where the top ball meets the rest of the bread, and if it’s doughy there it needs a little longer. You can also stick a skewer in, and if it’s at all doughy, give them a few more minutes).

Let them cool in the pan for five minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. If they need some encouragement to come out, just run a butter knife around the edge.

Brioche is delicious on its own, but it’s even better with jam!

What’s your favorite bread and have you ever attempted to make it before? Let me know in the comments!

 

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2 thoughts on “Baking for Bookworms: Mini Brioche from Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde by Thomas Wright

  1. Pingback: 10 Really Good Books with Fewer than 2000 ratings on Goodreads | Aliza Shandel

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