Friday 6 March 2009

A little brioche (Bostock and two smoking...)

It is common to leave leavened doughs to rise gently overnight which is fine in real life, but would make for a very long exam. So we have to learn to produce our leavened doughs pretty snappily for our CAP. The 7 hour practical exam which looms at the end of our course might seem amazingly long, but it isn't much time to rustle up some brioches, for instance. Which is why today, while juggling the many components of the Bois Vert, we had to make and bake a load of brioche from scratch in 6 hours.

I think I have already mentioned the fact that I am not a fan of working with leavened doughs and I was not looking forward to this rather testing challenge. What bothers me is the imprecision of the leavening process (setting aside the shaping of elastic and sometimes sticky dough). When I quizzed my chef for tips he just shrugged and said, That's why baking's an art.

I was convinced everything was going against me today. I was last all the way through the preparation (mainly due to extreme courtesy, it must be said); ended up with a rather sticky dough which really got my goat while trying to form the various bits and tits; was so whipped up I forgot my first glaze; and couldn't understand why everyone else's dough had sufficiently risen a good hour before mine.

What a relief to finally shut the oven door on it all. And what a surprise when it turned out to be my best brioche yet.

One was beefeaten.

I deliberately left the brioche nanterre (the loaf) rather pale. This is how I know it from home but the French prefer something heading for the colour of the little brioches. I was glad I did take it out of the oven when I did since it was beautifully light and had a really lovely texture. To be frank, having been a touch disappointed by the previous brioche efforts, I was over the moon to have produced something I really liked.

The last time I posted about brioche I was delighted to get a little comment from Tartelette who runs a cracking baking blog here. As a little thank you to her, here is a recipe we played with today for using up brioche which has gone a little hard (unlikely though it is to happen). It's a kind of pain perdu called a Bostock, is very easy and one of the most scrumptious things I've eaten in ages.

Very simply, cut the remains of the brioche into 1cm slices, dip them in a baba syrup (just a vanilla syrup - 1l water, 500g sugar, 5g quality vanilla extract), cover with a thin layer of raspberry jam, then a thin layer of pâte d'amandes and top with slices of fresh apple. Roast at 210°C until lightly browned, preferably on a perforated baking sheet.

The syrup caramelizes slightly, the brioche softens beautifully in the middle, the pâte d'amandes gives a little texture and the apple and raspberry is first class.

Because this is made from second-rate items (stale brioche and apple off-cuts) it has to be sold cheap if done in a patisserie so is made very hastily and not glazed. It doesn't look like much in the picture below (accompanied by a toasted almond variation) but I would take one of these over a Bois Vert any day.

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