Brioche, baby, yeah!
Thanks to my friend, E., I've been obsessed with the BBC's latest historical how-to show, Victorian Bakers. This is the same kind of terrific show that we all loved such as, Edwardian Farm, Victorian Farm, etc. But instead of having historians actually live 'back in the day' they have four modern day bakers using techniques starting back in 1840. It's fascinating.
It's also encouraged me to go on a carb rampage. First, I just had to make that cottage loaf from episode 1... and then, instead of the buns from episode 2, I made a brioche dough and arranged it into little buns. Kind of the same thing. I couldn't really find a good reference for the buns... and in fact, I had no idea that the British made them so popular. So brioche.
I've made it before and it never turns out. This time I put some real effort into it. After hunting around the interweb I found and used this recipe for the ratios. The other recepies either had a ridiculous amount of eggs or were just too large. I didn't want a billion brioche buns... just some.
But when it came to technique I turned to Rose Levy Beranbaum author of The Bread Bible. Rose and I have a difficult relationship. I have no doubt she is always right... but that attitude comes thru in her book. I also bristle against "all science and no love" in cooking. I always tend toward teachers who instruct you to notice how it looks and feels and smells... rather than the exact, well measured quantities.
Also if you are a beginner you'd just slam this book closed and walk away. Too many steps, too complicated, too many rules. A 36 hour recipe? NO WAY. But if you know that it's just a series of steps that you will get used to, and fold into your day, then you can have the confidence to follow the the many many steps in this book. And if you don't do everything exactly perfect? Well you still have bread so that is fine too.
To be fair, my loosey-goosey way of doing things would send Rose into fits.
The key to my success this time was that when I took the dough out of the fridge the next morning I made one batch after it had risen about an hour. They were OK but not really light and fluffy. So I let the second batch rise several hours. Also I used my instant read thermometer to check the temperature and boy was I glad that I did. The second batch ended up taking about 10 minutes longer but the extra time really worked. Success!
Today is also bacon smoking day. I've got the smoker fired up and am about to go and put on some apple wood and set the bacons on their path to glory. Someone ask me if making bacon really is that easy? Yep. And if you don't have it you really really need Ruhlman's Charcuterie. Can't you just look it up how-to online? Yep. But you need the full picture. Also the rest of the chapters explain the how's and why's to give you a bigger picture and give you confidence.
Bacons cured but not yet smoked. Soon.
Lots of folks give pause to the bacon making process - or get lost in the many many methods out there. But Ruhlman really lays it out in a good step by step plan.
Happy Monday everyone! Is your day about brioche and bacon? Are you staying warm in the mini-polar vortex? It was -11* this morning!
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