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Is it possible to hand-knead brioche?

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MadAboutB8's picture
MadAboutB8

Is it possible to hand-knead brioche?

Hi,


Is it possible to hand-knead the brioche dough? I'm thinking to make one with about 30-40% butter percentage.


I looked at Michel Roux's Pastry books, in which he suggests making most, if not all, pastries by hands. However, even Michel Roux suggested using machine to knead brioche due to its high butter content.


I don't have access to the food mixer in the next couple of days and will need to make things by hands.


Sue


http://youcandoitathome.blogspot.com/


 


 

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Sue,


Yes it's possible, and in some ways preferable to mix it by hand in order to feel when you've achieved the proper dough development. Richard Bertinet has an excellent video demonstration of his hand method for brioche included on a DVD that comes with his book 'Crust', but I believe it may be available on Youtube or elsewhere on the net as well. At a 30-40% ratio it shouldn't be too difficult, but will take some time and perseverance during kneading.


ATB,


Franko

MadAboutB8's picture
MadAboutB8

Yeap, I found Richard Bertinet vdo on youtube. It does look like fun to slap the dough around. Will try it tonight.


Sue


http://youcandoitathome.blogspot.com/

Vogel's picture
Vogel

It is totally possible to knead doughs like these by hand. However, a high content of fat could lead to the dough taking a lot more time to form the gluten structure. So it could be a good idea to do an autolyse phase, so mixing only the flour, liquid and pre-ferment (if used), letting it sit for about 30 minutes, and then starting to knead in the other ingredients. This way the gluten can form a little bit prior to kneading, without fat and salt hindering it.


If you use the Richard Bertinet method of kneading, than I would recommend to do the windowpane test a little more often. This kneading method is very efficient and therefore it can happen that you overknead the dough (happened to me several times). But it works really well, once you've learned to do it without messing up your whole kitchen and having to scratch dough pieces from the walls :).

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I think I got up to around 40% fat ratio before it became nearly impossible FOR ME. I hand kneaded a lot of lightly enriched Asian style sweet dough (~10% fat ratio) by hand, so I have a bit of experience in this department. The challenge of hand knead a brioche dough is not just forming the gluten, but also keeping the kneading time reasonable before the butter all melt out and the whole thing turns into a puddle of greasy mess. Some key points:


1. Brioche dough tend to be very wet and sticky from eggs and extra liquid (such as milk), so an autolyse helps a lot. But do it WITHOUT adding the butter. I usually don't even add salt/yeast until after autolyse.


2. Do NOT add butter, but add everything else to the dough and knead as the Richard Bertinet video instructs. For smaller dough, I do an one hand slap, otherwise a two hand slap and fold for larger dough. The point is not to slap the dough hard to punish it, the piont is to "stretch out" the dough then fold back. Yes, you hands would get sticky in the begining (that's why I prefer to handle the dough mostly with my fingers, leaving my palms relatively clean), keep going. As gluten forms, the dough WILL clear your fingers just like it would clear the mixer bowl. I have been doing this a lot, so I will take me about 15 to 20 mins of knead to get the (butter-less) dough to pass windowpane, but I have seen people knead for one hour or more to get to that point. Note: windown pane needs to be thin AND strong. I do a glove test - stretch the dough out thin and wrap on my oiled hand, if it doesn't tear, it's a strong window pane. Then I poke a hole with my finger to see whether the edge is smooth.


3. Now that you have a strong window pane, add butter bit by bit. In the mean time knead as before. This takes patience. You want the butter to be absorbed into the dough slowly so it doesn't break down the gluten, yet at the same time, you don't want to take so long that the whole thing becomes too greasy to manage. That's why I couldn't add more than 40% of butter, by the time the last bit got kneaded in, the first bit had started melting.


As you can see, it''s a messy and long process, and takes a bit of know how in terms of hand kneading a wet sticky dough, but entirely do-able. Good luck!


 

MadAboutB8's picture
MadAboutB8

You guys are great and very helpful. That's why I love The Fresh Loaf, so many wonderful people willing to help out.


Vogel - Richard Bertinet method is highly effective. I was surprised how quickly the gluten developed. I'm very intrigued and thinking to apply this technique to my other hand-kneading too.


Txfarmer - thank you so much for such a thorough and helpful input. I did my kneading before reading your post:( But, I'll apply your technique to my future hand-kneading (I hand-knead most of my breads). The way you do windowpane test is very interesting. Your dough must be very strong to withstand such a test. No wonder, your breads always look magnificent.


Sue


http://youcandoitathome.blogspot.com/

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Just want to clarify: I only do such intensive kneading, and rigorous window pane test for enriched breads such as brioche, soft rolls, soft Asian style sandwich breads. They require an even and soft crumb, and intensive kneading helps with that. For lean hearth breads such as baguette and country loaves, I don't knead, I stretch and fold. I also don't do window pane test for them, I just feel the dough during S&F. The following is a window pane test for a soft white sandwich bread I made recently: