PINK PRALINE BRIOCHE

Sometimes I wonder what makes me try a new recipe. Of course, reading tons of cookbooks and food blogs, new things show up on my radar often. I might make a mental note to try it at some point, labeling them as intriguing or interesting, but for the most part I move on. Then, there’s Pink Praliné Brioche. And no easy way to get it out of my mind. Having lived in Paris for a few years, it was hard to accept I’d never even seen one. Pink praliné. The stuff dreams are made of.

PINK PRALINÉ BRIOCHE
(adapted from Murielle Valette’s Patisserie)

3.5g fresh yeast (I used osmo-tolerant yeast)
25ml milk, at room temperature
250g bread flour
5g salt
15g sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature (about 150g)
125g soft butter
120g pink praliné, crushed lightly in a food processor (recipe follows)
egg wash

Whisk the yeast in a small bowl with the milk.  Put the flour, salt, sugar and eggs into the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer. Add the milk and yeast, and knead it for about 10 minutes at low-speed.

Little by little add the butter and continue kneading in low to medium speed until the gluten is well-developed.  Place the dough in a bowl lightly coated with oil, cover and place in the fridge overnight.

The following day, turn over the dough on a work surface and gently press it as a rectangle of around 8 by 12 inches, then cut it lengthwise in three strips. Roll each piece to flatten it slightly, sprinkle a line of crushed pink praliné in the center, and enclose it with the dough, rolling it well to seal. Do the same with the other two strips, then braid them together, keeping the seam side down at all times.

Sprinkle more pink praliné over the shaped bread, letting them fall in the folds of the braid.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it at room temperature for a final rise until it almost doubles in size. Mine took 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 F, and right before baking, brush the surface of the braid with the egg wash.  Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Brioche dough contains not only flour and yeast, but additional fat in the form of eggs, milk and butter. This type of enriched dough does well with a slow fermentation, so I prefer to mix it the day before. It also makes the actual baking day a lot easier, as you can shape the bread straight from its overnight proofing time in the fridge. It warms up quickly and it’s not hard to work with at all. You could ferment the dough at room temperature for 4 hours or so, but it will be a long baking day. Your kitchen, your call.

If you prefer to buy the pink praliné, amazon sells it, but be prepared to wait, no free 2-day shipping for this one. To make your own, follow the recipe below. 

PINK PRALINÉ
(from Cooking with Bernard)

450 g sugar, divided in 150g amounts
A few drops of red food coloring
125g whole hazelnuts, peeled (about 3/4 cup)
125g whole almonds (about 3/4 cup)

Place one-third of the sugar (3/4 cup / 150 g) in a large frying pan with just enough water to moisten it. Add a few drops of red coloring.  Stir well and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil. When large bubbles start forming, add the hazelnuts and almonds, stirring non-stop. Control the heat, so that the nuts don’t burn. The syrup will begin to crystallize, and look very grainy. Don’t despair, keep stirring so that the nuts are well coated in sugar. Keep simmering, the sugar that does not coat the nuts will slowly start to melt and turn into a thick liquid. Transfer the contents of the pan to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. You should have nuts and some “free” caramel-sugar. Reserve the nuts and place the sugar in a clean saucepan.

Add another third of the sugar (150g). Add a little more red coloring and water – just enough to moisten the sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Continue until all the pieces of sugar are completely melted. Switch off the burner, add the reserved nuts to the frying pan, but don’t switch turn the heat on yet. Wait until the syrup in the saucepan reaches 255°F. When the syrup is almost at the desired temperature, switch on the burner below the frying pan. It should be at medium heat. Pour the syrup over the nuts, stirring as you pour. You will need to wash this pan to use it again, so make sure to take it right away to the sink and fill with water.

Coat the nuts. The syrup will once again become grainy. Allow the sugar that does not coat the nuts to melt. Transfer the contents of the pan to a sheet of parchment paper and set the coated nuts to one side and the remaining sugar to the other. Place the remaining pink sugar in the saucepan and add the last third of the sugar (150 g) with more food coloring and enough water to moisten it. Allow to melt and bring to 255°F / 124°C. Return the nuts to the frying pan and pour in the syrup when it reaches the right temperature, stirring constantly. At this third stage, the syrup should coat the pink nuts quite well. Stir and wait for the syrup to become grainy and any sugar that does not coat the nuts should melt again.  Pour all the contents of the frying pan onto a sheet of  parchment paper. By now, there should be almost no sugar left unstuck to the nuts.

Final step: Heat the oven to 160°F and bake the candied nuts for at least 45 minutes to dry them out completely. Mine took almost double time to dry.  Let them cool and store in an air-tight container. They are ready to nibble on or use in recipes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Making pink praliné is a labor of love. You can buy it ready, but  the whole process of making it seemed fascinating enough to make me go for it. Essentially, you are slowly covering hazelnuts and almonds with a red-dyed caramel syrup. The coating happens in three stages. It is a bit time-consuming and also potentially dangerous. I got a burn with one tiny microscopic drop of super heated caramel and trust me, it hurt like hell. Then, it left a tiny scar, perfectly round and brown. Kind of cute, actually. But I don’t recommend it.

Pink praliné is a wonderful snack, and the pups tried some, yes they did. There was intense wagging of three tails. In São Paulo, when I was growing up, they sold a type of peanut made by Japanese immigrants that comes close to pink praliné but not nearly as good. It is called “amendoim doce” (translates as sweet peanut) and you can see it in the link that it also has a pinkish sugary coating, just a bit lighter. Anyway, if you are fond of nuts and feel crazy enough to be around boiling caramel for an extended period of time, try making these babies. They keep for a long time, which is a bonus.

So here it is, the Pink Praliné Brioche! It is absolutely delicious and yes, it was worth the trouble. If you google for photos, you’ll see it in many different sizes, shapes, and variations on how to incorporate the praline in the dough. Some just sprinkle a huge amount on top of a roundish loaf. I like this method better, because some of it gets truly deep inside the bread. The sugar that glues to the nuts melts slightly during baking, and when you bite into it, you get this concentrated sweet taste, truly delicious.  It is not sweet like a spoonful of sugar, of course not. The caramelization process gives the sugar a slightly bitter edge. Perfect, according to my taste buds.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Spinach Salad to Write Home About

TWO YEARS AGO: Karen’s Four Hour French Country Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: The Siren’s Song of the Royal Icing

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blog-worthy Roasted Butternut Squash

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Currant Sourdough Loaf & Roasted Beet Hummus

SIX YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flax Seed Sourdough

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Spanakopita Meatballs

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

NINE YEARS AGO: Pain de Mie au Levain

 

STAR-SHAPED CHOCOLATE BRIOCHE BREAD

Every once in a while I fall in love with a recipe, and cannot wait to make it. Last week I logged into Facebook, and by pure chance there on the top of the Artisan Bread Bakers page I saw a gorgeous bread, worthy of the cover of a Breads Illustrated Swimsuit Issue – if there was such a thing. Except that, contrary to what seems to be the case for many supermodels, no Photoshop tweaking was involved. The bread was naturally stunning. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it, as it involved a shaping technique I had never seen before. But, it all worked well. It’s bread after all, not cake.  😉

Star-Shaped Brioche1

STAR-SHAPED CHOCOLATE BRIOCHE BREAD
(from  Lindarose at Instructables)

for the dough:
500g all-purpose flour
2 eggs
60g sugar
180ml room temperature milk (3/4 cup)
80g room temperature butter
7g active dry yeast
8g salt
peel from one orange

for the chocolate cream:
35g cocoa powder
75g sugar
250g ricotta ( about 1 cup)
30g hazelnuts

Put the flour in the mixer and add the yeast, milk, sugar and eggs. Start mixing on low, as the ingredients start to incorporate, add the butter in small pieces, the salt, and the orange peel.  Keep mixing until very smooth (about 5 minutes on a Kitchen Aid type mixer). Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and finish kneading it by hand, to make sure all butter is uniformly distributed. The dough should be slightly tacky, resist the urge to add more flour. Form a ball, and let it rise in a bowl in a warm spot until double in size, about 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

While you wait for your dough to rise, prepare the chocolate cream.

In a food processor, mix the sugar and hazelnuts together until you obtain a powder. It’s ok if there are still some big pieces in it. Transfer to a bowl, and sift the cocoa powder on top of it.   Add the ricotta and mix everything together with a hand mixer until your mixture becomes a cream.

Once your dough has risen, divide it in 4 equal pieces and make 4 separate balls. Make a disc with each of the 4 balls using a rolling-pin. The most important thing is that the discs are all the same size.

Place the first disc on a piece of parchment paper and spread some chocolate cream on it, making sure to leave about half an inch of free border all around. Lay the second disc on the first one and press the border with your fingers to join them together. Now spread some other chocolate cream on the second disc (always leaving a free border), add the third disc and close it with your fingers. Do the same on the third disc and close it with the last disc, but don’t spread the chocolate on it this time. The 4th disc is the top of the bread.

Using a knife, divide the dough in 4 with 4 cuts. It’s  crucial for the shaping that you don’t cut the center of the disc (see pictures). Now make other 4 cuts between the others, for a total of 8, always leaving the center free. Finally, make 8 cuts between the ones you already made, just like the others. You will have a total of 16 sections now.

Consider 2 sections that are next to each other: lift one with one hand and the other with the other hand and twist each of them towards the outside. This means that the piece you are holding with your right hand will be twisted to the right and the one you are holding with your left hand will be twisted to the left. Do this for all the sections. Your bread will look like a snowflake. Put it in the baking sheet with the help of the parchment paper (don’t remove it) and let it rest and rise for another hour. As the bread rises, turn your oven to 350 F.

Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 25 to 30 minutes. Let it cool on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

balls-checker

I woke up very early on Labor Day to bake this bread. Long before sunrise. Mixed the dough and went for a run with Phil, while the streets were still completely dark. Come to think of it, “with Phil” is not a correct statement. Let’s say we start together and within five minutes I am begging for mercy,  slow down my pace and see him move farther and farther ahead.  The sun started to rise midway through our run, in such a magical experience, the subtle change in light, slow and beautiful. By far my favorite kind of run. A day that started so perfectly had  to be a good baking day. And indeed it was.

hazelnutpowder

This dough is wonderful to work with.  As you can see in the instructions, the most important thing to keep in mind is dividing the dough in equal parts – use a scale, don’t just eye-ball it.  Once the dough is divided, it rolls out very nicely, use just a little bit of flour on top of the parchment paper so that you can release it easily. I rolled all four balls of dough, but if you prefer, roll one at a time, spread the chocolate cream, move to the next one. Before you cover the bread with the last disk of dough, wash your hands of any chocolate to keep the surface of the bread clean.

shaped

Slicing the dough in 16 sections and twisting the sections for the final shaping is not as hard as it may seem.  I have a lot of trouble with spacing things regularly, and was a bit nervous handling the knife, but even if my cutting was not perfectly uniform,  the bread turned out ok.  Maybe not worthy of the cover of Breads Illustrated, but not bad for a first time.

This star-shaped bread reminded me of the classic Chocolate Babka, which I’ve never made, but saw Peter Reinhart demonstrate in a lecture in Dallas many years ago. In fact, my friend Marilyn said this bread looked like “Babka’s wealthy cousin”.  I suppose that defines it quite well.

The filling can be anything you like. Some bakers from the Facebook group used pesto and cheese, others used cinnamon cream, or a mixture of different nuts with chocolate. Pretty much anything goes with the exact same dough and shaping.  Be creative and impress your friends and family, it is a show-stopper of a bread.

Sliced

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

ONE YEAR AGO: Blueberry-Banana Bread 

TWO YEARS AGO: Into the Light Again

THREE YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

FIVE YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

LIGHT BRIOCHE BURGER BUNS

This recipe came up in a google search for hamburger buns, together with a gazillion others, but its title  – Possibly the Best Hamburger Bun Ever – made me stop searching, roll my sleeves up, and go to work.  It was the perfect excuse to inaugurate my heavy-duty pan featured recently at “In My Kitchen“.   Brioche, as everyone knows, is a very rich bread made with butter and eggs, but some versions – often called “Poor Man’s Brioche” – cut back a little on those ingredients for a slightly less decadent bread, but still quite buttery and luscious.  Made into a bun shape, these will take any humble hamburger to a whole new level…

BriocheBuns

 

LIGHT BRIOCHE BURGER BUNS
(from Parsley, Sage, and Sweet, originally via Comme Ça restaurant)

Makes 8 4-inch to 5-inch buns

1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, divided (one will be used for glaze)
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds (optional)

In a measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. In the meantime, beat one egg.

In a large bowl, combine both flours with the salt. Add the butter to the flours and salt and rub into the flour using your fingers or a pastry cutter, making crumbs, like you would a pie dough. Stir in the yeast mixture and beaten egg until it forms a dough. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter or board. and knead, scooping the dough up, slapping and turning it, until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Alternatively you can use a Kitchen Aid type mixer, for 5 minutes in medium-low speed.

Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper or sharp knife, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on the lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 400 F. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash, then brush on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds pressing them in gently to adhere. Bake, turning the sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

 

Comments: What a nice dough to play with!  Smooth, soft, tender, and very responsive. To get that amazing rise from the first couple of photos it took less than 90 minutes, and only one hour was needed after shaping to stick it in the oven. As you can see, this bread is quite easy to prepare on the spur of the moment. I admit that sometimes it’s nice to resort to commercial yeast. I shaped two buns a little smaller, the baking pan from King Arthur accommodated both sizes without any problem.

 

Sliced

The day I baked them we had pork burgers that turned out very tasty: ground pork, chorizo, green apples, a few spices.  The detailed recipe will be in the Bewitching soon.   Leftover rolls were frozen and absolutely perfect after sitting at room temperature for 15 minutes and spending 5-10 more minutes in our small Breville oven at 300 F.

snapshot444

 

 I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event….

ONE YEAR AGO: Sourdough Blues

TWO  YEARS AGO: Headed to Hawaii

THREE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Hidden Treasure

FIVE YEARS AGO: Avocado Three Ways