Go Wet Young Man
Over the weekend I decided to crack open my new copy of Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" and branch out from my year-long self imposed focus on perfecting a few selected artisan bread recipes. I really wanted to try a few high hydration recipes to get more comfortable with them. Rich Man's Brioche looked and sounded pretty exotic, so off I went to buy the truckload of butter called for in the recipe.
I decided to switch from the DLX mixer to the ancient Hobart mixer & its paddle to tackle this dough. I was glad I did . . . man, that dough is wet! I double checked the quantities to make sure that it really called to that much butter and yeast. I wasn't sure it would actually come together. After mixing a few minutes longer than Reinhart suggested, I scraped/poured the dough onto a pan and placed it in the fridge for an overnight chilling.
The dough had doubled in volume overnight and seemed fairly firm. Attempting to form this dough into something that resembled a loaf was a bit of a challenge. It still felt so soft, kind of like room temperature butter. I tried to work quickly; I was afraid the heat from my hands would melt this dough. Anyway, I formed three dough loaves and left them out to rise in an 80 degree kitchen, warmed by the 100+ temperature of summertime in Phoenix.
Despite what I considered a fairly high temperature for the final rise, it took about 3 1/2 hours for those loaves to double. They baked for about 40 minutes and despite my lousy shaping technique did not look to bad (sorry no pictures!). Crum was fairly open. The loaves were very light and soft. Lots of oil in the loaf pan after removal of the bread. The taste as well as the look of the crust, was a lot like a giant croissant. Like some other posts I have read here, I will probably opt for the alternate recipe in BBA that uses about half the butter on my next attempt.
A couple of questions for those of you who are more familiar with this type of bread -
Is 3 1/2 hours abnormal for a final rise with Brioche? Is that because of the high butter content?
Any tips on how to shape dough that is so soft? (It really was like working with cold, soft clay rather than bread dough)
Anyone ever accomplish Brioche completely by hand? Would Hammelman's "no-knead" technique work?