CSCA – BREAKFAST PASTRY (VIENNOISERIE)

Monday, we experienced the fruits of our labour. After 4 hours of rolling doughs – puff pastry & croissant – last Monday, the next step would be to shape and bake them!

The class was going too fast. No recipes, just following closely what Chef said. He, in his usual humorous nature, kept the atmosphere light by teasing us and commenting on our weird-shaped dough. Since he didn’t provide recipes, the keen participants would always ask (especially for puree and glaze), “Chef, how much do you put the rum…what did you put inside…?”

“I don’t use exact measurement. Just taste. You must learn how to taste!”

It’s ultra gratifying to see our shabby dough transformed into delicious pastries. I’m most impressed by the ‘peach’ that is made from brioche dough filled with pastry cream and cut peaches and then brushed with raspberry puree and glaze. I didn’t think that bread can be decorated like that. Creative!

So, all of us went home with at least 2 full boxes of pastries and a large bag of frozen doughs that are shaped. Time to give away these goodies!

Chef Delphin Gomes is really good in his craft and he shared his knowledge with us. But the downside is, we didn’t have the time to write our notes. These are some which I could capture.

On Croissant dough:
– Chef added 1/2 tablet of vitamin C (crushed) as a stabiliser and to promote longer self-life. It also prevents the dough from drying too fast in the freezer
– The butter block needs to be in perfect square when you laminate.
– Takes minimum 8 hours and require 3 turns and an hour of rest is needed after each turn.
– Too much rolling will be stressful to the dough. Having said that, once the dough is out from the fridge, work on it quickly to prevent the butter from melting.
– Place salt, yeast and sugar in different pockets of the flour. Don’t add all the liquid at once.
– Use medium speed.
– Never add salt in the beginning.

On Brioche dough:
– The amount of sugar, eggs and butter can change which result in either a lean or rich dough (Sherry Yard’s baking book has a good explanation on it).
– Adding water can cause the dough to last longer if you want to place it in the freezer.
– After the eggs are beaten, test using ‘window-pane’ and then add butter, a few pieces at a time.
– When the dough is elastic, it’s done. It can be stretched and there’s shine.
– Rest for at least 8 hours in the fridge.
– As with croissant dough, it’s best to first shape the dough and then freeze it (up to a month).

On Puff pastry:
– A laminated dough without yeast.
– Takes 6 turns.
– Score with an X on the dough to rest the dough.

Sugar + Spice Brioche Buns

I forgot to mention that during yesterday’s class, Chef deep-fried some brioche dough (that was shaped) and then dipped them into cinnamon sugar. The result was soft, tasty donut-like goodies. All of us were hungry and some went without dinner to attend the baking class and it was much appreciated that we had them after a grueling four-hour rolling of dough.

And I remember I had a half batch of brioche dough in the freeze and since we need something for breakfast, I decided to bake sugar and spice brioche buns, something like yesterday’s donuts, just that they aren’t deep-fried but baked.

The recipe is from Flour and the 1/2 batch brioche recipe can be found here.
For the Sugar & Spice mixture:

1/2 recipe basic brioche dough
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup butter, melted

Remove dough from the refrigerator.

Line 10 cups of a stand 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or butter and flour them.

On a floured work surface, press or rolle the dough into a rectangle about 10 by 15 inches. It will have the consistency of cold play-doh and should be easy to work with. Using a bench scraper, chef’s knife, or pizza cutter, cut the rectangle into 10 equal strips, each about 1 by 5 inches. Cut each strip into 5 1-inch squares. You should have 50 1-inch squares of dough.

Place 5 squares of dough in each muffin cup. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the buns in the pan on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 5 to 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

Brush the tops of the buns with melted butter and roll each bun the sugar mixture to coat.

The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. The can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 1 day and then warmed in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes before serving.

11.30am onwards…

I have been baking and cooking. And then realised I still have not enough time to prepare food for the small group.

Green tea financiers

 Burger buns which look so much like pong pia.

Preparing Brioche dough for the next day

Mantra for the day: Bake/cook, wash and then dry.

Fried radish cake for small group. Radish cake didn’t turn out well; it needs more time in the steamer and the portion is not enough! Nonetheless, have improved.

Not enough time! The hubs to help! Green Pea Fritters to add to the inadequate amount of fried radish cake. But, it’s not really a popular dish. =(

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Joanne Chang’s Sticky Sticky Buns

Ta da! Another Brioche today! And it’s the famous Joanne Chang’s Sticky Sticky Buns! You may ask, “What about yesterday’s loaf of bread?” I’m pleased to inform you that by noon, we were down by one slice.

Yes, we are really bread lovers. I used to worship bread many years ago until I realised too much of it makes me accumulate fats (at least in my case) and since then I had tried to watch my bread intake. However, in recent times, I found myself falling in love with it again, fueled by the ability to bake my own.

Anyway, the freezer had the other 1/2 batch of brioche and after gym, went down to buy a packet of brown sugar before I headed home to bake them. I love the gym – Bodyscrapes Fitness – which cost me $25 for 25 passes. Not bad a deal, isn’t it? I like it that it was not overcrowded, that the machines are new and clean.

Anyway, I was excited to come back to bake my inaugural Sticky Sticky Buns. I hope it to be a success and read the recipes a few times. It was relatively easy. So here goes:

Firstly, prepare the goo. 
170g unsalted butter
330g packed light brown sugar
115g honey
80g heavy cream
80g water
1/4 tsp kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature.

This should make about 2 cups of goo (sticky stuff) but I used half the portion and save the other half in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be kept for up to 2 weeks. Well, if you feel lavish about this sweet stuff, you could use it all. I, would rather halve it for the sake of the waistline. =p

You will also need:
1/2 batch of basic Brioche dough
55g packed light brown sugar
50g granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
100g pecan halves, toasted and chopped

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and half of the pecans.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle 16 by 12 inches and 1/4 inch think. It’s rather easy to work with as it has been chilled. Position the rectangle so that the short side is facing you. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough.

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Starting from the short side furthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. And you need to do so bravely and confidently so that the roll will be tight and you will end up with a nice round spiral. Even off the ends by trimming about 1/4 inch from either side.

Use a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide.

Pour the goo (I used half the amount) into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Place the buns , cut side down, and evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for about about 2 hours or until the dough is puffy, pillowy and soft and the buns are touching.

Meanwhile, go for a run and they should look like this when you are back.

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and heat the oven to 350F.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Use your sense of smell too! Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter and spoon any extra goo ( I don’t have) and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.

The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. It’s true; it’s warm and soft and really delicious. They can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 day and then warmed in a 325F oven for 6 to 8 minutes before serving. Which also explains why we need to finish the buns by tomorrow!

Brioche Loaf

Dear Brioche
I truly do love you.  From the moment I place you inside the oven, you give me nothing but pleasure. Minutes into the furnace, you exude an aroma that only a good loaf of bread can give and so fills my whole apartment. I’m not surprised that the neighbours wonder where it comes from but I’m sure if they follow their sense of smell, they would find the source.

I must admit that in the beginning I find you a little troublesome and difficult to fathom. You consume so much butter and eggs and you caused my beloved standmixer to heat up. The many minutes of kneading also means the same amount of time I stood to watch you transform from a shaggy lump to a smooth and shiny dough. Holding you in my palms is a great delight though. Knowing that you are ready to rest in the air-con is a great comfort for me.

And I couldn’t resist sinking my teeth into you. I couldn’t wait for you to cool in the rack. I’m sorry. Just that the hubs and I had a run prior to your sweating it out in the oven and both of us were hungry as ravenous wolves. I had to slice you. While doing so, it gave me great delight to know that your crust is crispy and yet you are incredibly soft inside. You are awesome, do you know that?

The best part is, you are easy to bake once you came out from the refrigerator. I just need to press you into a 9-inch square and roll you from the edge further from me. Once that was done, all you need is to be placed seam-side down into a well-buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and rest for another 2-3 hours or until you nearly doubled in size.

To make you more shiny, all you need is a gentle brush of a beaten egg on the top and in you go into the preheated 350F oven. And you are good and obedient. You stay in the oven for about 35 minutes before you tell me you are ready! Good o’ loaf. I’m sorry though that I turned you out so soon into the cooling rack. I should have let you cool in the pan  on the wire rack for 30 minutes before turning you out of the pan and continue to cool. My fault, really. But I had a great meal because of you. Thank you so much. I love you.

Pain Aux Raisins

Using the other half batch of brioche dough, I went on to bake Pain Aux Raisins for breakfast tomorrow. It’s really convenient to have Brioche dough in the fridge as standby but the problem is, as with all other types of bread dough, you need to let it proof for the second time which takes time. I would much prefer to have freshly-baked bread/pastries for breakfast but it’s a bit impossible unless I have brekky at 11am?

Nonetheless, the smell of bread in the oven is the most inviting and satisfying moment for me; it just makes me happy! Oh! By the way, the pastries taste real good just by heating it up in a 300F oven for 5 minutes. I think I’ve nailed this!

 

Before and after baking

Recipe from Joanne Chang’s Flour
1/2 recipe Basic Brioche dough
1 recipe Pastry Cream (same link as above)
1 cup (160g) raisins (or golden raisins)

Glaze
1  cup (140g) confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tbsp water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle 16 by 12 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Position the rectangle so that the long side is facing you. Spread the pastry cream evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the raisins evenly over the cream. Starting from the long side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll it tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Even off the ends by trimming about 1/4 inch from either side.

3. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 to 10 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inch wide.

4. Space the pieces, cut-side down, evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Cover the pastries lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for about 2 hours, or until the dough is puffy, pillowy and soft.

5. Position a rack in the centre of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 F.

6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pastries are golden brown on the edges of the spiral and pale brown in the centre. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes.

7. To make the glaze: While the pastries are cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, 2 tbsp of the water and vanilla until smooth. Add more water as needed to thin the glaze enough to make it spreadable. The glaze can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

8. Generously brush the tops of the still-warm pastries with the glaze.

9. The pastries are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 300F oven for 5 minutes before serving.

Brioche Au Chocolat

The brioche dough was so much easier to work with after proofing it in the refrigerator. As I rolled it out, I couldn’t help but be marveled and relieved at the same time at how smooth-going it was as compared to the initial dough I removed from the stand mixer bowl yesterday.

1/2 recipe of Basic Brioche dough
1 recipe Pastry Cream
114g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 egg

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 20 by 10 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Position the rectangle so that the long side is facing you. Spread the pastry cream evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the chocolate evenly over the bottom half (a 20-by-5-inch section) of the rectangle. Fold the top half of the rectangle completely over the bottom half, then press down gently so the halves are smooshed together.

  

3. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the filled dough into 10 pieces, each about 2 inches wide; each piece will be about 2 by 5 inches.

4. Carefully transfer the brioche to the prepared baking sheet. Cover the pastries lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for about 2 hours, or until the dough is puffy, pillowy and soft.

5. Position a rack in the centre of the oven, and heat the oven to 350F.

6. In a small bowl, whisk the egg until blended. Gently brush the tops of the pastries with the beaten egg.

7. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. The pastries are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day and then warmed in a 300F oven for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Brioche (at last)

I decided to wait no more but to start working on my tutorial or notes rather, on Brioche (bree-OHSH). I had my virgin attempt using Francois Payard‘s recipe from his book Chocolate Epiphany and loved the loaf of rich, tender bread. It was decided then that I should bake Brioche again and create different baked goods using the master recipe.

Brioche is made from a rich dough and it’s so called because of its high fat content which comprises a generous amount of eggs and butter. This high ratio of fat makes this dough difficult to work with, but the flavour is well worth the effort. Like all yeast breads, it begins with water, yeast, flour and salt.

The general procedure for mixing brioche dough:

1. Have all ingredients at room temperature.

2. Hydrate the yeast, then combine it with the flour, salt, sugar and eggs. Mix until a soft dough or sponge is formed. This step gives the fermentation a head start. which in turn gives the finished bread a more pronounced flavour.

3. Knead the dough on medium speed for 15 to 20 minutes until it is smooth and shiny.

4. Add the butter in small increments, kneading until the butter is incorporated before adding more. Continue this process until all of the butter has been absorbed into the dough, approximately 8 to 15 minutes.

5. Cover the dough and ferment at room temperature until doubled. This second fermentation is usually referred to as rising or doubling. The longer this process takes, the more flavour develops in the dough.

6. Punch down the dough, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Punching, which is actually a brief knead (not literally punch!) or fold, deflate the dough, expelling carbon dioxide that has built up and letting fresh oxygen in to feed the yeast, prolonging the fermentation. The dough then doubles again, usually in the refrigerator.

7. Divide and mold the chilled brioche dough into desired shapes. Brush with egg wash or cover lightly and proof until doubled in volume. Do not proof brioche in a very warm place; the butter may melt out of the dough before proofing is complete. Professional bakers use a proof box, in which the heat and humidity can be controlled. At home, we can create a similar environment by simply covering the loaf with oiled plastic wrap.

8. Bake in a moderate oven until the crust is deep golden brown. Cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes to prevent the loaves from collapsing, then remove the bread from the pans and finish cooling on racks.

Source: The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard & On Baking: A textbook of baking and pastry fundamentals by Sarah R. Labensky, Priscilla Martel and Eddy Van Damme.

For this basic brioche, I’m using Chef Joanne Chang’s recipe from Flour since I’ll be baking other brioche treats from the same cookbook. =)

Basic Brioche (Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook)

315g unbleached all-purpose flour
340g bread flour
3 1/ 4 tsp active dry yeast
82g sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
120g cold water
5 eggs
310g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water and eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until all of the ingredients have come together. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

2. On low speed (2), add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Then, continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

3. Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium, and beat for another 15 minutes, or until the dough becomes sticky, soft and somewhat shiny. Then turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute (the mixer’s motor gets hot!). You should hear the sough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl.

4. Place the sough on a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.

At the same time, I prepared the pastry cream too so that the next day, I could proceed to making Brioche Au Chocolat. Using the recipe from her cookbook again…

Pastry cream

300g milk
100g sugar
30g cake flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

What do you do with the egg whites then? Guess what? Macarons!

1. In a saucepan, scald the milk over medium-high heat (bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, but the milk is not boiling). While the milk is heating, in a small bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, and salt. (Mixing the flour with the sugar will prevent the flour from clumping when you add it to the egg yolks). In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture. The mixture will be thick and pasty.

2. Remove the milk from the heat and slowly add it to the egg-flour mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly. When all of the milk has been incorporated, return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk continuously and vigorously for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.

3. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small heat-proof bowl. Stir in the vanilla, then cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface of the cream. This will prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until cold, or up to 3 days.

Let’s continue with it tomorrow!

Wet Tuesday

My diary read ‘to run 3.21km today’ in a bid to kick start a training programme under Nikeplus. And then it rained. Not only did it rain, I had my monthly ordeal this very day.

So, I stayed home on this gray, cloudy, foggy day. Looking at the bright side of things, to be able to stay at home and concentrate on my hobby is a luxury. So let’s do all things French. I’m baking Broiche and having Almond basa meuniere, an adaptation from Dorie Greenspan’s Almond flounder meuniere.

It’s not my first time baking Broiche. The first time I baked that was last week and the turnout was a pleasant surprise. It’s incredibly soft and flavourful. I made them into buns with chocolate chunks in each of them and today, I decided to go for the loaf version, using the same recipe by Francois Payard from his book Chocolate Epiphany.

I must say that it is not an easy dough to deal with. It is unlike the other bread dough which I’ve encountered. It failed the windowpane test and after mixing it with butter, it was soft and sticky, just like some cake batter. It’s at this stage when I doubt the dough. Would it work? Am I doing things correctly?

If you’re not in a rush, you could allow the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator. For me, I did the bare minimal. =p The dough was still sticky after it has proofed twice. I guess I persisted because I wanted to see the turnout.

The bread turns out well, I guess. I can’t wait for breakfast!

Go on and try baking broiche. =)

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