i got that mad scientist feeling in my kitchen again this weekend. i like to gamble with my baking abilities sometimes. case in point: i fearfully waded through a first time making Thomas Keller’s brioche (from Ad Hoc at Home) and … it turned out just fine. i always get extremely nervous with recipes that have a large quantity of expensive ingredients (read: a complete meltdown in the not so distant past over Swiss Meringue Buttercream and THREE STICKS OF BUTTER that went into the garbage). This recipe only had 2 1/2 sticks of butter though so the danger factor was slightly lessened. only slightly though. but all my worry was for naught, as what i ended up with was two beautiful loaves of pillowy bread that reminded me of tearing into a gorgeous, buttery croissant when i ate two toasted slices with my breakfast eggs this a.m. i have since had to return the Ad Hoc book (damned library due dates) but i did very carefully copy the recipe into my favorite spiral notebook…
Brioche a la Thomas Keller
recipe from Ad Hoc at Home
note: this recipe requires several hours of rising time and an overnight stay in the fridge so take that into account when you start it
1/3 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/3 cups cake flour
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 eggs (room temperature – leave ’em out of the fridge for like, 30 minutes)
2 1/2 sticks of room temperature butter, cut into cubes
Day 1: combine the yeast and warm water in a bowl. let it get all foamy and stuff for 10 minutes. in your stand mixer bowl, sift the flours, sugar, and salt together. fit the mixer with the dough hook. add the eggs and beat for a minute on low, scraping as needed. add the yeast mixture and keep beating on low. scrape and beat for 5 more minutes. add the butter a quarter at a time and beat each addition in thoroughly. i found i had to scrape once in awhile to better incorporate it. the dough at this point (at least for me) was very, very soft and looked like cake batter. i was only slightly freaked out by this. lightly flour another large bowl and transfer the dough to it. cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot and rise for about 3 hours. at this point, i went outside to help erik with gardening stuff so i just let this dough sit for half the day. turn it onto a floured surface and knead it. the dough was still rather soft and cake battery so i incorporated more flour in order to tighten it up and make it look more like, well, bread dough. if the texture freaks you out and you want to add flour, go for it because it worked out fine for me, but if you want to follow Mr. Keller’s recipe exactly, you don’t have to add more flour. be forewarned, you might need an extra pair of hands and a scraper because the dough was SUPER soft at this point. put the dough back into its bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate overnight.
Day 2: take the dough out of the refrigerator. i let mine warm up a bit, for about half an hour while i prepared our Sunday breakfast. heat the oven to 350. butter two loaf pans (i used the larger ones. i have no idea what size). turn dough out onto a floured countertop. divide the dough in half. shape into 2 rectangles and roll up into loaves, tucking the ends under. set into the loaf pans, cover with plastic or a towel, and let it rise another 3 hours or so, or until the dough has risen about a 1/2 inch above the pans. bake until the loaves are well browned on top and sound hollow.
The other culinary triumph has to do with ice cream. For many years now, I have scowled at homemade ice cream recipes and flipped past them angrily because i don’t own an ice cream maker and had no plans to buy one. until i read a facebook post by the Brown Eyed Baker featuring ………………………..A STEP BY STEP POST ON HOW TO MAKE ICE CREAM WITHOUT AN ICE CREAM MAKER. can you feel how excited i am just typing it? while i do believe i am the only person in the world who didn’t know this could be done, i am glad that i have had my eyes opened to the fact that it can, indeed, be done. now homemade ice cream is MINE. and it is AWESOME.
Chocolate Ice Cream
recipe by David Lebovitz, by way of Brown Eyed Baker
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process)
5 ounces bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate
1 cup milk (the recipe states whole – i only had 2% on hand and it worked out just fine)
3/4 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
warm 1 cup of the cream in a saucepan, whisking in the cocoa powder until it’s well incorporated. bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer at a low boil for 30 seconds. keep whisking this by the way. remove from the heat and add in the 5 ounces of chocolate. whisk it altogether until it’s smooth. stir in the leftover 1 cup of cream and whisk it until it’s smooth. scrape all of this (every last bit of it) into a bowl and set a strainer on top of the bowl. in the same saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, and salt. in a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. temper the eggs with the warm milk: very slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks. and i mean seriously slowly, and try to do it so that the warm stream of milk hits the side of the bowl first before it gets into the egg. the point of this is to warm the eggs so that they don’t scramble. scrambled eggs in ice cream = bad. very bad. whisk constantly while you add the milk in. scrape the eggs and milk mixture back into the saucepan. stir it constantly and cook the mixture until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (170 degrees on an instant thermometer). pour the custard through your strainer into the chocolate mixture. stir it until smooth, then work in the vanilla. put the entire bowl into a larger bowl full of ice to cool it down. once it has cooled off completely, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge. i left mine to cool overnight.
the next day, take it out of your fridge. stir it up really well. cover it with plastic and maybe some foil and stick it in the freezer. let it freeze for a few hours. using your hand mixer, beat it on low to break it up a little. it will still be really soft but on its way to thickening up. cover again and let it freeze some more. i froze it for another 3 or 4 hours until it was at the right stage for transferring then hardening, beat it occasionally so that it got to it’s thick point in a consistent way. once it’s at the right thickness (you’ll know when you stir it), transfer it to a plastic container, leaving a good inch or so of headspace. cover and let it freeze until hardened. it didn’t get to the right stage for me until this evening (and i started it on saturday). and it was DELICIOUS. if my instructions are wonky to you, just follow this link where they explain it in a much simpler way and with pictures!