OLIVE OIL BRIOCHE

Karen from Karen’s Kitchen Stories is a source of endless inspiration for me. Particularly on anything related to bread, she finds the most unusual, exotic, unique recipes, and then bakes them like it’s no big deal at all.  Just to give you a recent example, look at this incredible concoction for which she used 12-ounce empty soda cans wrapped with foil as a baking “pan.”  Amazing, isn’t it? Today I share with you my adventure with her Olive Oil Brioche. I made only half the recipe and still had a ton of dough to play with. Enough for a large loaf and 6 buns. For reasons that will be discussed in the comments, if you make it, be ready to have one loaf and 8 buns. The amount for the loaf pan was a tad too much.

OLIVE OIL BRIOCHE
(slightly modified from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)

for the poolish:
100 grams all purpose flour
100 grams water
1.5 grams instant yeast

Mix the ingredients, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator over night.

for the levain (Sourdough)
1 tablespoon starter
110 grams all purpose flour
110 grams water

Mix the ingredients, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit overnight at room temperature until bubbly.

for the final dough: 
200 grams poolish
150 grams levain
500 grams bread flour
12 grams salt
7.5 grams instant yeast
250 grams eggs
120 grams milk
80 grams honey
Zest of one Meyer lemon (optional)
25 grams water
220 grams extra virgin olive oil
For the egg wash: 1 egg plus one tablespoon milk

In a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, yeast, eggs, milk, levain, poolish, honey, lemon zest, and water and mix on low for about 5 minutes. Cover and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Mix the dough with the spiral hook on medium to high speed for 8 minutes.
With the mixer running on medium,  add the oil slowly, pausing so that the oil is absorbed. I did it in three additions. Incorporation of the oil will take time, so exercise patience.  Add a sprinkle of bread flour to speed incorporation if you so desire, but do it only in the second and third addition. The dough should end up very smooth and not tear when  you stretch it.

Allow the dough to bulk ferment (in a large bowl covered in plastic wrap) for 2 hours at 70 degrees F. Do three stretch and folds during the first 90 minutes, one every thirty minutes.  When the dough is ready, remove three pieces of about 250g each and braid them. Place in a slightly oiled 9 x 5 loaf pan for final proofing. Divide the rest of the dough in 8 portions, shape as buns, and proof.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  After the bread has been proofing for 1 and a half to 2 hours (until doubled), brush with egg wash and bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes, until internal temperature is 200 F. You can sprinkle sesame seeds on the buns if you so desire.

Un-mold the large loaf and cool on a wire rack together with the buns.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I will not lie to you, this is a project. The bread requires a sourdough starter, a poolish (fermented flour using small amount of commercial yeast and prepared the day before), and commercial yeast in the final dough. But it is a total pleasure to work with, rises like a rocket and the texture and taste? You will not miss the butter, that’s for sure. As Karen said, it keeps a lot better than the traditional version. And freezes beautifully too.

When you start adding the olive oil, you will be sure the whole thing is ruined, and might have a few rude thoughts directed at me. It seems impossible for the dough to come together. Have bread faith. And here is a little tip that might help: as you add the olive oil and the mixer is going and going, with a puddle of oil all around and looking hopeless, add just a sprinkle of bread flour on top. It will help things get in shape faster. But just a sprinkle, I say 1 tablespoon or so. If you add the olive oil in three additions, do that in the final two, when the dough will have more trouble incorporating it.

For a 9 x 5 loaf pan, I advise you to make three strands with about 250g of dough in each. Then divide the rest in 8 buns. When you do that, you will be able to let the shaped loaf proof for closer to 2 hours and it will not rip a bit like mine did. I had no choice but to bake after 1 hour and 10 minutes, the dough wanted to leave the pan and explore the kitchen. No bueno. That’s because I used 300g per strand, a bit too much. Don’t be put off by the complexity of this recipe, once you have the starter and the poolish prepared the day before, it is just a matter of weighing all other ingredients and having some fun.

Karen, thank you for the inspiration, I know I tell you this all the time but it’s so true… Your blog is a pleasure to follow!

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SHIBARI BREAD

I love a simple loaf of bread, mostly white flour, a touch of whole-wheat, good crust and crumb, nothing necessarily fancy. But I am always fascinated by what I call exotic bakes. Things that demand a little more attention, a little more work, and often a lot more patience. One site that never fails to amaze me is BakeStreet. Not only they show unusual, unique recipes, but they might include videos of the entire process, particularly when shaping is more elaborate. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on their blog post on  Pan Shibari. They designed a bread recipe inspired by a classic Japanese knot (shibari is Japanese for knot).  The knot is quite an important symbol in Japan, and it’s easy to see why. It joins things, it carries a sort of sensual connotation, and it can be very artistic. I confess I was so mesmerized by that bread, I could not wait to try it myself. It was not easy. But, I’m happy with the way it turned out. My very first Shibari Bread!

SHIBARI BREAD
(slightly modified from BakeStreet)

600 g of all-purpose flour
300 g of whole milk at room temperature
36 g of cocoa powder + 45 g of whole milk
5 g of instant yeast
1 egg L (55 g)
75 g of unsalted butter at room temperature
40 g of honey
3/4 teaspoon of natural chocolate extract
10 g of salt
olive oil for brushing bread
1 egg yolk
2 tsp milk
pinch of salt

Make the dough.  In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mix the flour along with the milk, the egg and the dry yeast. Mix with the kneading hook for 5 minutes on low-speed, until it is homogeneous.

Add the honey and salt, continue mixing for at least 5 more minutes, until very smooth and silky.  Add the butter little by little, in small pieces, waiting for each piece to be incorporated before you add more. Continue kneading the dough until gluten development is complete (it will not tear when you stretch a small portion of the dough, instead it will form a thin membrane).

Divide the dough in two pieces, a small one with 200g, and a second one with the remaining portion, around 870g. Shape the small portion as a ball and place inside an oiled container. Cover and reserve. To the second portion, add the cocoa powder with the milk and chocolate extract. Knead to incorporate them well, and make a dough with homogeneous color. I find it easier to place back in the Kitchen Aid and let the machine do some of the work, then finish it by hand.  Form as a ball and place in a second oiled container.  Proof the two balls of dough for about 3 hours at room temperature. It should double in size.

Now is the perfect moment to swallow that Prozac.

Shape the bigger ball of dough as a batard, after de-gassing it lightly. Reserve, covered with plastic film as you work on the other ball of dough.  Roll the smaller ball as a rectangle of approximately 14 by 10 inches. Cut parallel strips with a thickness of 0.4 inches (1 cm).   You will need 15 strips, but you will have more than that, which is good, in case you get in trouble.

Place 3 strips laying horizontally on the center of the bread, as shown in the composite picture. Place 6 strips laying on top, forming a C shape facing one side of the bread. Use other 6 strips to form a bundle held in the center by the C-shaped group of strips you just placed. Braid according to the video. Start all over if necessary. Who am I kidding? It will be necessary. Several times. Keep calm (HA!), and braid on. Once the braiding is done…

stop sobbing, regain your composure…

and brush the surface of the bread with olive oil. Cover with plastic film and let it proof at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.  It will almost double in size.  Meanwhile set the oven to 350 F.

When ready to bake, brush the surface with egg yolk whisked with milk and salt. Make sure to cover all the parts of the bread.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until internal temperature is about 195 F.

Cool yourself completely and also the bread before slicing (slicing applies to the bread only).

Pat yourself on the back. You’ve done it!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe (without jokes), click here

Comments: Having recently made panettone, I can tell you that the dough for shibari bread has some similarities: inclusion of egg, milk and honey, and the butter being added at the end, after the dough is almost fully developed. The main bread takes quite a bit of cocoa powder, which gives it almost the feeling of a German rye bread. Quite interesting, when you consider that the formula involves exclusively white flour.

The braiding. Not. For. Sissies. Keep in mind, there were no written instructions or diagrams. Just a video. The woman knows what she’s doing, and she moves fast. One piece of advice, keep track of the time it takes you to braid, and take that as part of the  proofing. It took us 45 minutes to wrap this baby up in strands. Don’t judge us. Thank you.

I don’t know how many times I watched the video (it is mesmerizing), made drawings trying to number the strands and figure out which one is moved when and how. At some point I thought I “got” it, and said to myself, this will be totally doable. Famous. Last. Words. When I had the actual strands of dough and the shaped bread in front of me, things got very nasty very quickly.  Luckily, I made it on a holiday in which we were home, snowed-in. Hubby to the rescue. He had the video going, stopping at every step and guiding me. Still we had to start over four times, if you can believe it. All that as the shaped bread was rising right in front of my scared eyes. Strangely enough, we managed to do it, and what is even more amazing, we are still married. I recall the phrase “You are just impossible!” being used more than once. I tell you, if your marriage can take the The Elusive Shibari Test, you are tied for eternity. I am counting on it.

I think this basic method has a ton of potential. The double-color dough is very elegant, but one could just use a single dough and make the same braid on top. Or switch things around and make the braid with the cocoa-tinted dough, and keep the main loaf underneath as a white bread.  I also envision a savory type of bread, with sun-dried tomatoes and basil, for instance. The thing to keep in mind is that the bread must have a gentle rise in the oven, and the dough used for the braid must have a similar formula so that both components rise at compatible speeds. That all points in the direction of enriched breads, since they tend to have a more gentle oven rise. But I am speaking from intuition and could be totally mistaken. Worth a few experiments, I think…

To make the dough strands I used my set of rolling cutters closed down to the tightest level. In that configuration they generate strands with almost exactly 1cm wide, and they end up quite uniform. In the video, the Bread Goddess does all the cutting free-hand, but if I tried to do that, I am not sure our marriage would survive. It would be a 50:50 thing, maybe. Perhaps 25:75. Hard to tell.

So there you have, the mandatory crumb shot. It is a moist and delicate crumb, but with a very assertive flavor coming from the cocoa powder. It pairs well with jams, but also with a nice slice of ham or a Roquefort type cheese.  I hope you enjoyed the post, and please take a look at that video. The real “fun” part starts at 3 minutes and 50 seconds, in case you are interested in the braiding process.  I had that song as an ear worm for a while…  Maybe I still do!  🙂

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