Monday, December 28, 2009

French to English: Recipes for Christmas, Part 6

This classic French pastry never fails to please the taste buds; there are many ways of making it and I'm sure each one - French or not - has a recipe that's similar.  I'm talking about the brioche - a favorite breakfast item that perks up the appetite.  Many countries have their own versions of the brioche; the one that we have back home which comes close to it is the ensaymada - a sweet bread that's very soft and is topped with sugar and strips of cheese. 

This brioche recipe is from a French web site. I was puzzled when I saw the words "oeuf tempéré" and "beurre tempéré" ; I wasn't sure if the recipe writer meant egg (oeuf) and butter (beurre) at room temperature or a tempered egg as we know it in English.  Cooks say that to make tempered eggs when combined with a hot liquid, small amounts of the hot liquid should be added to the eggs gradually so that the eggs don't curdle or get lumpy. 

Why don't we look at this brioche recipe and see what the writer meant by "oeuf et beurre tempéré." Usually we can make an educated guess by reading the recipe to the end.

Let's begin with the ingredients (this recipe is for one brioche)!
To convert measurements, I use this web site to help me in converting amounts of dry and wet ingredients: - an indispensable tool!

375 g de farine
375 grams of flour
20 g de levure de boulanger
20 grams of baker's yeast (also known as fresh yeast)
200 g de lait
200 grams of milk
65 g de sucre
65 grams of sugar
65 g de beurre tempéré
65 grams of butter at room temperature (or tempered butter) ?
1/2 cuillère à soupe raz de sel
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 oeuf tempéré et 1 oeuf pour la dorure
1 egg at room temperature (or tempered egg) and 1 egg for egg wash

Étapes / Steps
1.  Délayez la levure dans 4 cuillère à soupe de lait tiède.
English:  Dissolve the yeast in 4 tablespoons of warm milk.

2.  Dans un saladier, faites un puits avec la farine tamisée, le sucre et le sel, y mélanger la levure, l’oeuf et le lait.
English:  In a bowl, make a hole (in center of bowl) with the sifted flour, sugar and salt and then add the yeast, egg and the rest of the milk.

3.  Battez la pâte dans le saladier jusqu’a ce qu’elle se décolle des bords.
English:  Mix the dough until it comes away from the sides of the bowl.

4.  Incorporez le beurre coupé en morceaux et battez la pâte à nouveau.
English:  Blend in the cut pieces of butter and mix the dough again.

5.  Laissez-la ensuite reposer 1h, elle doit doubler de volume.
English:  Let the dough rest for one hour; it should double in size.

6.  Rabattez la pâte, coupez-la en 4 parts égales, formez des pâtons et les placer côte à côte dans un moule à cake et laisser à nouveau reposer 1h.
English:  Fold the dough and cut it into 4 equal parts, shaping them.  Put them side by side in a cake pan (my comment:  you can use a muffin pan or loaf pan) and let them rest another hour.

7.  Faites une incision avec un couteau bien aiguisé (ou des ciseaux) au centre de chaque pâton et dorer la brioche à l’oeuf.
English:  With a sharp knife or pair of scissors, cut through the center of each dough piece and brush with egg wash.

8.  Enfournez la brioche à four moyen (200 °C) pendant 35 min.
English:  Bake the brioche at medium heat (200 degrees Centigrade or 400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 35 minutes.

Take a guess.  What does "tempéré" mean in this context?  Reading the instructions, it appears that the recipe writer meant eggs and butter at room temperature.  It doesn't call for tempering - the way we understand it in English - as there is no hot liquid involved.
Being an amateur bread maker, I have some questions that are not addressed in this recipe.  For example:
  • lait tiède - this is warm water.  The writer, however, did not specify how warm the water should be.  For someone who is baking the first time, it is important to explain how tiède is tiède.  Experienced bakers know that the temperature should be within the range of 90 degrees to 115 degrees F.  Novice bakers won't know that.  Anything above 115 degrees would kill the yeast.
  • in the list of ingredients, the writer simply mentions "farine", but in the steps, the phrase "farine tamisée" appears.  Are we supposed to sift the flour before mixing it with the sugar and salt?  Also, there are many kinds of flour - did the writer mean all-purpose, cake flour, wheat flour, unbleached or bleached?
  • How come the dough is not kneaded?  From what I know, brioche is made by kneading dough (to develop the gluten).
  • My egg wash is usually an egg mixed in with a bit of water or milk - depending on how you want your glaze (shiny, matte, dark brown, light golden, etc)
I have Peter Reinhart's book - Bread Baker's Apprentice - and he provides three versions of a brioche.  He calls them his rich man's brioche, middle class brioche and poor man's brioche.  It is the amount of butter and eggs that distinguishes all three.  If you have his book, you'd be more inclined to follow his recipe for brioche because he gives detailed instructions.  I'm not saying his recipe is better than the one above, but for someone who's a stickler for detail, Reinhart goes out of his way to do some hand-holding.

By the way, there are no right pans for brioche.  Some don't even divide the dough into pieces; they form it into a whole wreath or as a sandwich loaf.  The way we know brioche here in Montreal is the way most patisseries in France make it - individual pieces each with a tiny ball on top.  Reinhart also explains in his book how to make this shape.  In the recipe above, the writer says to make an incision on top of the dough pieces - that works too!

If you want to make a charming brioche, use the brioche pans - they're available in most bake ware stores.  Or you can order them online from Amazon.  They look like this:


They're also available in six-piece pans like this:


Amazon has other brioche pans.  You just go with the ones that strike your fancy, but I recommend the ones appearing on the first image above.

1 comment:

  1. what a great idea! we actually just saw the movie julia and julia recently and the motivation to write her cookbook was that there were no French recipes in in English!