Wherein I ignore directions and everything works out perfectly
I’ve never been overly good at following directions (just ask my best friend the number of times I got us lost while driving). This can be both good and really bad in a cook. Everyone says that baking in particular requires precision and exactly following the instructions. Which I try to do, it just doesn’t always quite happen that way.
For this week’s cooking adventure I decided to attempt brioche. The recipe said to make loaves first as a way to “practice your technique” before moving on to more complex things. Naturally, I was intimidated and told myself I would follow directions. Well, first it told me that I shouldn’t halve the recipe, as it wouldn’t come together right … I made a half recipe. Second, it said to dump 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 3 eggs, and 1 package yeast into a bowl and mix with dough hooks. Then add the butter (about 10-11 tablespoons) slowly until it all comes together. I don’t have dough hooks. My mixer was a cast-off from my parents that may be older than I am. I got it because the dough hooks broke and they bought a new one. So I hoped that normal beaters would work. They didn’t. The dough was too thick and sticky by the time I started add the butter and covered the beaters. Rather than continue with the beaters, I mixed it all by hand (by that I mean with my hands). Best decision ever! So much fun to mush soft butter into a lovely dough and knead it. Then I set it in the fridge to rise overnight.
The next morning, I pulled the dough out of the fridge – it was cold but pliable. The recipe said to roll the dough into a square and fold it so that it fits the loaf pan (I use 2 small loaf pans over one large one). I just kinda molded it into the right shape and squished it into the pans. Then I baked it for about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans for a bit and then on wire racks.
The result: Unbelievably delicious. Like crazy good. The closest thing to a problem with it is that it is completely and utterly addictive. Also, it dries out quickly so you should eat it within three days of baking it – which again isn’t a problem per se unless you are watching your weight. One other important thing to note – it makes incredible bread for grilled cheese. I have spent years trying to find the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich and it is down to two contenders: cheddar on sourdough (preferably SF sourdough) and gouda on brioche. Its quite likely that gouda on brioche wins … but I have a deep attachment to sourdough in general.