I just adore brioche so I was thrilled when Hanaa selected Abby Dodge's Overnight Brioche Braid for this month's ABC bake. The recipe is from Abby's book "The Weekend Baker" and I like how she gives suggestions on how to conveniently make this bread by including extra steps -- which is extremely beneficial to people on a time crunch -- like an overnight stay in the fridge during bulk fermentation or during the final proofing of the dough. Although these steps are optional, I decided to go for the overnight retardation so I could have freshly baked brioche in the morning. I also read in other bread books that doing this helps develop more flavor and that dividing and shaping the dough while its cold is also more ideal.
I made a brioche cake from Tish Boyle's "The Cake Book" for my bread baketogether (BBT) with Hanaa recently so I was eager to see the differences between the two brioches. I was very pleased with the outcome of Tish's brioche and I wanted to get the same results with Abby's. My comparisons may be be compromised though as I used a different flour for Abby's and I recall putting lecithin granules to Tish's brioche which I omitted in Abby's version.
Instead of going for one huge braided loaf, I opted to make two smaller ones -- I divided the dough in half then braided each half and placed one in an 8 x 4 loaf pan while the other in a 6-inch bundt pan. The dough was very stretchy and easy to handle so it was very easy making braids with it. Abby mentioned that there wouldn't be a need to flour the surface because the dough wouldn't be sticky at all but this was not the case with mine. I had to generously flour the surface before each roll as I noticed that it was sticking too much on the counter. In fact, during the latter stages of mixing the dough I noticed that the dough was still sticking to the sides of the bowl so I had to to add close to a cup more of flour just to get the consistency that Abby described in her recipe. I wonder if this was due to weather conditions or the nature of my flour.
The loaves baked darker than I wanted but at least the crust didn't have any bitterness to it. I think 400 F is a little too high for this type of bread given the amount of sugar and fat that's in the dough. Perhaps baking this in a 350 - 375 F oven would be more feasible. The braids also baked less than the stated amount of time in the recipe. I used an instant read thermometer to check the doneness of the loaves and when it registered over 200 F I knew they were done.
Though I'm fairly pleased with the outcome of the loaves, I was expecting these to rise higher than what's shown in the pictures much like the results I got from Tish's recipe. But regardless of my somewhat deflated expectations, the flavor and texture is still amazing though -- really buttery and fluffy with a pleasant chewiness to it.
I'm going to have guests tomorrow so I'm looking into turning some slices into dessert. One idea is to turn them into Bostock where the slices are spread with apricot jam, frangipane, sliced almonds and sugar then toasted to perfection....YUM!
If you would like to join ABC or just check out the other posts of my fellow ABC bakers, head on over to the ABC blog!