Recently I went to this bakery in Edmonton Alberta that is quite well known and has major line ups out the store and down the street as soon as they open. The Duchess bakery is this beautiful bakery that has these amazing glass display cases full of beautiful crafted treats. While there are a few things that caught my attention, their sweet and savory brioche tugged at my heart strings, well gut strings if there is such a thing.
Ever since going there I have wanted to try making my own but was a little intimidated to make the brioche dough. I don't know why I was, it really wasn't that difficult, it just takes some time, attention and love, but don't we all need that. On Saturday I decided to start the process, to really enhance flavors and to make a really good brioche the key really is patience and time.
I will warn you ahead of time this recipe I used needs to have the ingredients measured, if you have a small kitchen scale that would be perfect. If you do not have one you can try to look up a basic brioche dough recipe online and then adapt from there. This recipe is a true brioche and any good baker knows that baking and cooking is a form of science and you really do need the right amount of ingredients in order to have the best results.
This is the little kitchen scale I use and I have had it for 5 years now. I think I only paid $10 for it. You can go to any store that sells kitchen items and I am sure you would be able to find one for a reasonable price. With any cooking tools you can splurge and get the super nice expensive ones or you can get one that is good but not crazy expensive.
Basic Brioche Recipe
263 grams of all purpose flour
6 grams of instant yeast
31 grams of granulated sugar
6 grams of fine sea salt
132 grams of eggs
44 grams of whole milk
118 grams of unsalted butter (at room temperature and cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
Place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix for 15 seconds to distribute the yeast evenly. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the butter.
Mix on low speed for 30 minutes, at this point there will be some dough sticking to the sides of the bowl. Add the butter a few pieces at a time, make sure it is well incorporated after each addition before adding the next. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and push the dough off the hook. Continue to mix for 10 minutes.
Using a bowl scraper, release the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work board, the dough will be sticky. Stretch and fold the left side over to the center, then the right over to the center. Repeat with the top and bottom. Place seam side down in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel, and set aside for 1 hour to ferment.
After the first fermenting, refrigerate the dough for at least an hour but overnight is the best. It allows the butter to harden again so that you have beautiful pockets in the dough.
Remove the dough from the fridge and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 85 g balls and roll them gently in your hands so that they are more of a ball shape. Place seam side down on a silpat lined baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Set aside in a warm place to proof for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
During this time make the pastry cream, original recipe is found on Martha Stewart's website, she is the queen after all!
Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
2 cups of whole milk, 2% works as well
1/2 cup of sugar
1 whole vanilla bean (split lengthwise and cut in the middle with seeds scraped out)
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture. Continue adding milk mixture 1/2 cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean.
Add the butter, and mix until the butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes. Place pot in an ice-water bath until mixture is cooled.
Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Just before using, beat on low speed until smooth (you can also whisk by hand).
Assembling the Sweet Pear Brioche:
Once the cream has cooled finish assembling the brioche, peel and slice up one pear into thin slices.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. When the dough has proofed, brush the surface with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar or regular sugar. Dampen your fingers, push the dough down in the center to create a well, be careful not to damage the dough too much.
In the well/center you created spoon in the vanilla pastry cream, I would say fill it to the top, then gently place the sliced pears on top and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the brioche is a deep golden brown color. I like to set the oven to broil, and broil the tops for a minute just to cook the pears and sugar a bit longer. If you had a hand held blow torch that would help give a nice crunch to the sugar on top as well.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Dust with icing sugar right before serving and enjoy!
I was honestly so happy with how they turned out and they tasted amazing, they were worth the effort and time. I am hoping to attempt a savory one next. It makes me excited when I have a vision in my head of how I want it to turn out and then it does.
If you ever have any questions about the recipes I post let me know and I will comment back as soon as I can!
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