Trenzas de Brioche

Trenzas de Brioche

I’ve been posting way too many fails lately, I have been trying way too many new things too, so not feeling terrible about it….yet! The best thing about failing in the kitchen is… knowing i dont own a restaurant.

This trenzas de brioche recipe is one delicious thing I remember eating back in Venezuela, of european origin like most of venezuelan cooking, spanish, italian and french influence mainly (talk about the best combo ever), adopted by portuguese immigrants during and after the WWII, this dish and many variations of it could and can be found in any “panaderias” (bakeries) all over the country mainly owned by the portuguese.

Here’s a recipe which instead of butter uses olive oil:

600 AP flour
250g whole milk
120g (2) eggs
100g olive oil (extremely nice and moist fluffy finish, fragant)
50g sugar
8g yeast (1 packet highly active yeast)
8g kosher salt

Egg wash and wet sugar glaze.

I’ve been spending more an more time reading about baking and dough recipes and some of the science behind it. Extremely fascinating, and extremely vast, the more I read the more I realize how little I know about it, but anyways, I have learned a few things regardless. The first time I made this recipe, it was such a mess I didn’t even bother posting it, but I tried it again tonight, and the results this time were delicious! The spongy soft texture of the inside, the smooth and silky crust… ah, so good!

1. Mix milk (lukewarm), sugar, yeast and let yeast do its thing.

Trenzas de Brioche

2. Mix kosher salt and AP flour in the stand mixer container..

3. Beat eggs, add to yeast mixture.

4. Add olive oil to yeast mixture.

5. Mix dough until dry and wet ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over knead.

Trenzas de Brioche

That was my first mistake last time, I kneaded the dough too much, it developed too much gluten, and it made the dough hard to work with, and less flaky than it should have been.

This time i kept the mixer on for a minute, let the dough rest, checked, mixed a little longer, but only enough to mix all the ingredients well, always using the lowest speed.

6. Finish the dough by hand, added a little more flour, made a ball and let it rest for 20 minutes which allowed the little gluten formed to relax.

I dont think I did this last time either.

Trenzas de Brioche

7. Sprayed water over the dough while it rested, to keep the surface from hardening. It is pretty dry weather these days.

This is probably the most useful trick to control the crust hardening of a any baked good. I really wanted the crust of this bread to be thin and delicate, so I made sure I kept the surface of the dough hydrated, while resting and inside the oven.

8. Cut the dough in half, reserved one half for later (freezer) and cut the reminder in 3 sections.

9. Made 3 “trenzas” or braids and placed them on a cooking sheet covered in tin foil.

Trenzas de Brioche

Trenzas de Brioche

10. Let them rise for about 45 mins, placed the sheet on the stove and let the oven heat warm up the dough and accelerate the rise.

11. Apply a simple egg wash right before they go in the oven.

Instead of the 1st and 2nd rise, the first rise is sort of cut short and the 2 rise is done on the baking sheet, the braids go in the oven with all the CO2 generated on the second rise. I’m sure by adjusting rising times, more interesting flavors can be developed.

11. Let the braids bake for 5 minutes at 415f, i sprayed more water over them and added a half a cup of water to a tray inside the oven to increase the moisture and get a more delicate crust. The high heat helps increase the oven spring, but it is important that the crust remains soft for the braids to rise the most.

12. Lowered the temperature to 350f for 15-20 mins and again sprayed more water over the braids, I kept checking I probably sprayed the braids a couple more times before they smelled so good i knew they had to be ready.

Trenzas de Brioche

By spraying water over them I mean, very finely atomized water, I’m not soaking the braids, simply coating their surface with some moisture to delay crust formation. Worked like a charm!

Trenzas de Brioche

As always, let the bread rest for a good 20 minutes before trying it. Some of the moisture inside the bread will be driven towards the outside crust softening it a bit. Out of the oven, the crust will always seem tougher than it will end up being.

done!

basic french bread II … fail!

Thought I’d log a few new things when making this bread! which ended up in disaster (I’ve made many French bread loaves following what I had learned and had no problems, but changed a few variables around….I guess I will have to figure out what went wrong ), or go check out a successful recipe here!

new recipe (adjusted ratio closer to 5:3 flour to water)

500g flour
322.5g warm water
7g yeast
7g kosher salt
14g sugar (added to warm water to proof yeast)

A couple of things changed in how i’m making bread now. I added sugar to my recipe, a full table spoon, and i added to my 1.5 cups of water, then i add the yeast until it yields a layer of foam close to half the height of the water level, so make sure your you have a deep enough container for the water.

I got a stand mixer, kitchenaid artisan, just like this one! clearance item at macy’s for $150, it used to be a display item, so it was missing the box an the batter paddle, whatever! I brought it home. Cuts down kneading time tremendously, and no more mess in the kitchen, only thing i have to clean is the bowl and the dough hook, maybe a spatula.

Im also not pressing down on the dough after the second rise, i want to preserve bigger pockets of air, hopefully it will be more flaky, I will find out in a few minutes… (after a few minutes) here is the brilliantly boring looking bread:

20121112-003442.jpg

The browning on the top seems lacking, the nice golden crust is more like a dull washed out brown, the explanation, too much water was added during baking? i did add more water than usual, which I shouldn’t have, since the dough had more water content than my previous recipe. I went from 2:1 to 5:3, although not necessarily true! because in the previous approach, i wasn’t measuring ingredients by weight, who knows what i was doing then! (worked better though and one more thing, my measuring cup is totally off, 200g of water when it should read close to 250g, that’s a big difference) Ok, back to the bread in question, which not only had a boring looking crust, but also seemed like it didn’t rise enough and was slightly undercooked even though the loaves spent almost 45 minutes if not more in the oven at 415f:

20121112-003450.jpg

20121112-003459.jpg

Oven spring, I’ve been reading about it lately, just like in pizza making, bread likes very hot ovens, at least the first few minutes, which i sort of failed at achieving this time, i opened the doors one too many times, i should stick a few bricks in there as well, to maximize radiant heat and kept some moisture to prevent the crust from setting too early preventing the lift.

One last thing, dont score the dough until right before placing the bread in the oven, otherwise the scoring marks will basically disappear, I scored these, but those are virtually gone because I made them before the second rise.

anyway, not really done!

empanada gallega

In the search for the original empanada, the mom of all empanadas!, I turned to this Galician dish, something I had when i was like 5 and I can still remember the experience, yes, an awesome one i meant. It’s like this baked steak sandwich (or tuna or chicken or just bell peppers, in either case, awesomeness), the real deal uses a french bread dough, more classical bread than what i ended up trying here, and I’ve had this variation in many bakeries around venezuela, in which the brioche dough has earned it’s place and it’s used pretty much every time we want to stuff something in bread, or cover bread with sugar. So this variant is a bit different, but in a good way i hope, at least i find it a perfect combination of brioche bread and pressured cooked flank steak stew:

Filling:

400g carne asada (I happened to have pre-seasoned steak at hand)
400g red bell pepper
200g yellow onion
200g green pasilla chilli pepper
15g garlic
400g chicken stock
250g water
80g tomato paste
1/4 tbs baking soda

olive oil for roasting and browning as needed.

Dough:

see Pan de Jamon

I did cut down the butter amount to 2 Tbsp. I figured if I was gonna stuff a pie with a meat stew, it had to be strong enough to hold a wet filling and not too pastry like.

Also, check out these tips on http://www.dianasdesserts.com, super helpful!

Anyways, here are some instructions to make the stuffing:

toss veggies with olive oil to coat, roast veggies in the oven, except for garlic (garlic is more delicate and will burn before veggies roast)

brown meat in pressure cooker pot with some olive oil at medium high, work in a batch at a time, probably 2 batches total.

add tomato paste and let caramelize in the pot on medium heat.

add rest of the ingredients and pressure cook for 15 mins.

at medium low, reduce until most of the liquid is gone. be careful not to burn the bottom, requires continuous stirring.

add salt and pepper to taste.

refrigerate overnight.

To make the dough, again, reference the Pan de Jamon recipe.

Once dough is ready, roll it out into 2 round sheets to a diameter slightly larger than 12″ so you can dress a quiche dish this size.

I could have par baked the bottom sheet to dry it out a bit so the stuffing wouldnt make it too soggy (which isnt a bad thing when stuffing pies with meat.. so i didnt)

Cover the quick dish with the second sheet and seal it along the edges, basically press the edges together and then fold over to create the crusty pie trim, Im sure there is a much better name for this.

done!

cheese whiz!

this recipe yields a silky and smooth cheese sauce of your favorite cheddar cheese, or goat cheese, or pretty much any cheese…. or does it? experimentation should help us determine that, but this is a pretty good start:

140g cheddar
130g whole milk
5.5g sodium citrate

Tried this from the mac&cheese recipe posted on the modernist cuisine site This encyclopedia on food and cooking, food technology and creativity is simply the best for anyone seriously interested in food and understanding the science behind it.

I gotta work on my photo skills, but you get the idea. Combine the milk and the sodium citrate bring to a gentle simmer, so they mix entirely, then add the grated cheese and allow for the cheese to melt, mix well with an immersion blender, I used my aerolatte milk frother which worked out great, since I was making a much smaller quantity of the original recipe.

done.

stock clarification part I

This one is fun to do. I started by digging through my freezer and found some old frozen carcasses of chicken, some roasted, some uncooked, I figured I’d make stock. Found some veggies in my fridge, onion, some carrots, celery, 5 cloves of garlic, I chopped these very coarsely, actually, onion only in half, carrots I broke in chunks by hand, same with the celery, garlics cut in half skins on, threw everything in my pressure cooker and added enough water to cover the chicken. 2 hours at 15psi, that took care of it.

Strained the stock and was left with a very fragrant but cloudy concoction.

1 quart (1000g) of stock needs 4 egg whited, figured this out after checking with the google machine.

This is a very old but very cool trick to filter stock and rid it from its impurities. It’s called the egg white raft, basically here’s what I did:

Got my egg whites in a bowl, my whisk, and beat the eggs until soft peaks would form, I could have used a hand mixer but didn’t have one… I know, it took forever but always nice to practice those traditional technics…

The the actual fun began. I had let the stock cool down a bit, didn’t want those egg whites setting right away. Got my immersion blender out (I know, I could have probably beaten the whites in style) poured the egg whites in, and cranked up the heat and brought the stock to about 80c while still mixing until I noticed the whites were setting and then it all happened, the egg white foam solidified, rose to the surface and left behind a wonderfully clear stock, free of impurities, golden brown in hue but without any suspended solids.

I could have followed the instructions and ladle out the liquid, but i instead strained the stock, very carefully, and even pressed down the whites in the strainer to release some of the clear stock that had been caught in them, to maximize yield. Here’s what it looked like:

20121102-000658.jpg

brioche part II

So I didn’t give up, and it paid off this time. Last time the result was not a total disaster, but it needed a huge improvement, specially in the texture of it, too dense, crust too hard, so I’m giving it another go here with a much lighter recipe, only 10:1 flour to butter, not 2:1, the result was definitely an improvement, and it made one thing pretty clear, mixing butter and flour isn’t a straight forward as I thought, actually I need to revisit that older recipe and mix the butter into cold dough, cold ingredients, cold water, and never let the dough get warm enough that the butter separates and the whole thing turns into an oily mess. Constant trips to the freezer, I’ve tried this with pastry dough and it works really well. Allow dough to rise in the fridge, and NEVER let the butter melt, EVER (although i just saw another recipe for brioche that uses vegetable oil and melted butter and the pics look awesome, so not entirely sure anymore!)

Anyways, here’s my second try:

200 water or 1 C (the cup i have, not the 230g cup, so check)
50g milk or 3 1/2 tbsp
60g sugar or 4 tbsp
8g or 1 packet

lukewarm liquids, add yeast, let foam rise till height of the liquid volume.

400g flour or little less than 3 1/2 C
10g sea salt or 2 tsp
40g butter

add cubed butter into flour+salt mix by hand squeezing cubes into flour until incorporated.

add liquid into batter plus:

add 60g egg or 1 egg 🙂

knead until awesome, I used a wooden spatula in circular motion in the bowl, I could totally see the gluten stretching and becoming very pliable.. 20 mins or so, adding flour as needed, then finished it by hand, it was hard work!!! but paid off. I even tried this window pane test, which I had read about in some bakery sites, it worked!

1st rise (1 hour or until double the size), push air bubbles out and 2nd rise (over night or 8 hrs in the fridge, this time it rose just fine), then:

Sweet egg wash:

1 egg
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp water

(I considered adding a 1/4 tsp of baking soda to intensify the maillard reaction, but i didnt, though i tried it on a different situation and the result was pretty great)

Mix well and and brush the loaf generously. In a bread baking pan, buttered, place loaf, place in a preheated oven at 350f-400f (really depends on the oven), for about half hour. Here’s what came out of the oven, yes, im very proud!

20121030-234716.jpg

20121030-234724.jpg

20121030-234732.jpg

Never expected this thing to be so friggin’ good, spongy, and soft!

done!!!

brioche… fail!

Brioche = Intimidating!!! tons of steps and this and that, seems crazy! I happen to have all the ingredients at hand today and not much to do, but best of all, it is Saturday, I can forget about this dough in the fridge overnight and get back to it in the am (which some famous chefs out there recommend). I also want to try something while going through this process, I want to normalize this recipe down to work units, grams and I want to convert it to ratios so I don’t have to memorize so many things and I can understand better what am doing! I tried Thomas Keller’s recipe in my copy of ad hoc

1/3 C water
1 packet of active yeast
2.333 C cake flour
2 C AP flour
1/3 granulated sugar
2.5 tsp fine sea salt
6 large eggs at room temperature
2.5 sticks of unsalted butter (10 oz)

I’m already freaking out, all the different measurement units and large eggs? how large? Seems complicated, so by normalizing the weights of the ingredients to grams, this stuff starts to make some sense.

70g water
7g yeast
645g flour (combined AP and C)
70g sugar
12.5g sea salt
360g eggs
300g butter

It’s already a little simpler to follow, and something becomes more obvious, the ratio flour to butter: 2:1, which some say its the way a proper brioche is made, but after looking online for other recipes, that ratio was all over the map.

Take this one more step further and turn the whole thing to ratios, and here, this can be done in many different ways as long as the relative ratios stay relative 🙂

I chose water as my unit for whatever reason, it made sense:

0.1 parts yeast (I’ve tried yeast to salt 1:1 and worked just fine)
0.18 parts salt
1 parts water
1 parts sugar
5 parts butter
5 parts eggs
10 parts flour

I had to round the parts to simplify the recipe and make it easier and friendlier. Of course, it’s not the exact same recipe anymore!!? well, are all brioche recipes exactly the same?…probably not. So, i wont worry about this… yet.

I only have 2 eggs (seriously), what other stuff do I need to make brioche? given that my eggs are 60g each, using the ratio I can calculate the stuff I need:

2.4g yeast
4.3g salt
24g water
24g sugar
120g butter
120g eggs
240g flour

30 mins at 400f after 1st rise at room temp, and second rise overnight in the fridge.

Without a stand mixer the mixing of the ingredients was pretty much a sticky mess, the dough turned oily, it did rise the first time, but not the second time in the fridge…. once in the oven, it didnt spring either, but the flavor was good and the look of the bread wasn’t actually all that horrifying:

20121029-132304.jpg

Very sophisticated kitchen math:

20121029-132326.jpg

In conclusion, this bread didn’t turn out all that great, and I have 3 possible reasons:

1. My butter separated and melted
2. I don’t have a stand mixer
3. amount of yeast was too low

The result was a very oily dough that wouldn’t rise enough. Out of the fridge it just felt like a compact mass, very firm, and I had to let it get to room temperature for it to rise a bit more, otherwise the lack of plasticity of the firmed up buttery dough wouldn’t rise.

Working brioche dough by hand is very time consuming, I haven’t found any information on this, I’m sure a stand mixer would give me a much better dough…. or would it?

Check out my second go at this brioche bread!

fettuccine, sun dried tomatoes, roasted pine nuts and feta

Here’s a quick one:

Eyeballed ingredients:

2 tbsp chives chopped finely
3 tbsp sun dried tomatoes, chopped coarsely
3 tbsp feta crumbs
2 tbsp roasted pine nuts ( roast to taste)

250g fetuccini pasta made al dente in salty water (ocean salty)

20121029-131957.jpg

20121029-132023.jpg

20121029-132034.jpg

done!

sponge cake… you guessed it, fail

I have learned that if I prep everything in advance, this baking business is not a messy experience and it’s actually rather quick to get something ready for the oven. So “mise en place” is as always the way to go.

I’m trying something a bit different this time. I’m prepping all the ingredients by weight and not by volume. I’m using ratios instead of blindly adding cups and tbs of things. I’m working in grams because it makes sense to me. You do need a scale to work this way, I got mine from amazon, it is awesome. Ok, here are the ratios for a sponge cake:

1 parts flour (I tested bread f.)
1 parts eggs
1 parts sugar
1 parts butter
0.08 parts baking powder

flavorings:
0.08 lemon juice (from a bottle)
0.08 pure vanilla extract

Since eggs are tricky to split in grams, I used one egg as my cooking part unit. It weighs about 60g, I made a cake that had 2 eggs, here’s the ingredients by weight:

120g eggs
120g flour
120g butter
120g sugar
4g baking powder
4g lemon juice
4g vanilla extract.

Then, preheat your oven at 350f

1. beat sugar and eggs until triple their volume
2. sift flour, mix baking powder. I use the hand mixer for sifting and mixing them together in a dry bowl.
3. mix (folding, need to look into it) the dry mix into the wet mix.
4. mix the melted butter (at room temperature, you don’t want your eggs to curdle when you mix it in) into the batter.
5. add flavorings
6. in the oven it goes for roughly 20 mins, better to check and test for doneness. it should be dry inside.

Ok, I learned a valuable lesson today, don’t take anything for granted, not even softening butter to room temperature… do just that or… once it separates (melts) its game over. Which is what happened to my second sponge cake. It did not raise much.

Also, I will try creaming the butter with the sugar first, then adding the eggs.

Some pics I took while working on this sponge cake failure!

20121029-133031.jpg

20121029-133104.jpg

20121029-133115.jpg

20121029-134216.jpg

20121029-134253.jpg

chocolate cake

This cake is super moist and airy, very delicate in texture, not overly sweet, just right. Courtesy of Maribeth’s mom 🙂

Wet ingredients:

1+1/2 sticks of soft butter
1+2/3 cups of regular sugar

Beat until creamy (10 mins)

3 eggs
1 tps vanilla extract

One egg at a time incorporate until airy, 6 more minutes.

20121024-213424.jpg

Dry ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
1 tbs salt
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tbs baking powder

Mix well with the help of a fork.

for final mix of dry and wet ingredients:
1+1/3 cups of water

Add dry mix (in thirds) into the wet mix while running the mixer, add water in thirds as well. Beat until satiny and pudding like. about 10 mins.

20121024-213849.jpg

Prep a cake pan, butter and dust with flour.

Bake at 350f for 30 mins.

20121024-213406.jpg

done.