Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Cinnamon Swirl Brioche

I'm really bad at public speaking. We had an event at work last Friday, and it was a baking demo. I was the event organiser, and had gotten one of my work friend to share his knowledge about bread baking. Feeling sheepish that I've already asked him for help several times already, I agreed to "co-host" the event with him. Since he was baking bread, I decided to do something complementary and much simpler - homemade nut butters. Oh Em Gee do I really suck at public presentation. *cringes in mortification and tries hard to shove the memories away* On the contrary, thank gosh my friend was a really good speaker so everything went on without a hitch. *phews*

Anyway, back to the bread. I've been baking tons of brioche lately cos the Sister loves her butter, and what better than to bake but a buttery brioche. This is one recipe I've tried some time back.

Cinnamon Swirl Brioche
Proofing dough

I was going attempt a Russian braid swirl design but, as you know, with the humidity in Singapore...sigh.

The dough was extremely, extremely sticky and was clinging to death to the counter-top. I was totally fighting a losing battle. I used a bench scraper and tried "twisting" the dough around however I could, so the "braiding" ended up being all over the place. I'm pretty sure it doesn't resemble a braid in any form. Nevermind.

I combined two recipe ideas - one for a fuss-free brioche, and another, for the filling and braiding technique. I've tried baking the popular artisan no-knead bread several times with success (just haven't gotten around to taking any photos cos the bread was gone quite fast), and I happened to chance upon this brioche recipe which came from the same source. Since it involves letting a dough sit out overnight to proof (aka not much work), I decided to give it a go.

The recipe yielded a denser loaf than regular brioche. But then again, brioche itself can be quite heavy (considering how much butter it contains).

It was sorta sweet because of the cinnamon sugar filling, and also the sugar I sprinkled atop the loaf. It tasted okay on its own, but if you like, you could probably eat it with some jam or Nutella.

Cinnamon Swirl Brioche
(makes one 9"x5" loaf and four small buns)

Brioche dough (adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes)
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 tbsp granulated yeast
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup honey
170g unsalted butter, melted
415g all-purpose flour

Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in a  large bowl.
Mix in the flour, using a spoon until all of the flour is incorporated.
Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours.
Refrigerate for a least two hours (I did mine overnight).

Cinnamon swirl filling (adapted from Barbara at Barbara Bakes)
60g icing sugar
1.5 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Mix the sugar, cinnamon and salt together and set aside.
Grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan.
Dust the refrigerated dough with flour and roll out onto a well floured surface into a 13" x 21" rectangl.
Lightly spray a thin layer of water on the dough (I didn't had a spray, so I lightly brushed the dough with a pastry brush).
Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a border around the side. Spray filling lightly with water so the filling is speckled with water.
Starting on the short side, roll the dough and seal seam.
Gently stretch the roll into a 20" length. Cut off about 3.5" from each end of the roll. Divide each end into two equal pieces, shape and place into four muffin liners. Set aside.
Cut the remaining dough in half lengthwise and turn the halves so the cut sides are facing up.
Braid the dough by laying the left piece over the right keeping the cut side up, until the dough is tightly twisted. Pinch the ends together. Transfer loaf, cut side up, to greased loaf pan. Cover loaf pan and muffin liners with mesh food cover and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 2-3 hours).
Preheat oven to 170ºC.
Brush loaf with milk and sprinkle some coarse raw sugar atop the loaf. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown (mine browned too much after 15 minutes so I would do so for 12 minutes the next time I make this).
Reduce oven temperature to 160ºC, tent loaf with foil and continue baking for another 15 to 25 minutes longer. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.
Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

*For a better idea on how to do the Russian braid swirl design, click on this video for a clearer illustration > here.

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