Saturday, May 12, 2012

Produce Projects and Brioche

Produce Projects: 

Last week I got a little carried away at the farmer’s and produce markets.  I came home with strawberries, cherries, rhubarb, ginger and coconuts.  There were definite plans for each of my purchases but I knew it would take awhile to get everything done.

clockwise from top left:  strawberries and cherries; candied ginger;
rhubarb-ginger jam and homamade yogurt; grated ginger to freeze

The first thing I started on was the strawberry-chipotle preserves.  Since this recipe takes six days from start to finish, it was the obvious choice to begin with.  Mine ended up being more jam than preserves as I overcooked the berries at one point.  I managed to get three and a half pints out of this recipe.  Two pints are for me (one half gone already) and the third and the half-pint are to be gifted.

I went back to the farmer’s market today and picked up two more pints of strawberries.  These are destined for strawberry-pinot noir preserves – which will only take four days instead of six.  Day one down, three to go and I’m already thinking I didn’t buy enough strawberries.  The need to hoard them for preserving is overwhelming me right now.

The cherries were frozen with the intention of making pie filling, but I don’t think I want an entire cherry pie around for me to eat and I know I won’t force myself to give it away.  Last year I read about a sour cherry jam – somewhere – and now need to go about finding the recipe.

The rhubarb became a glorious rhubarb-ginger jam.  I didn’t make the recipe exactly as stated with orange and lemon zest as the only citrus I had on hand at the time was lime.  Trust me when I say it is perfectly acceptable without the zest.  I’ve been enjoying it nearly daily on my homemade yogurt.

All three pounds of the ginger were either candied or grated and frozen for future use.  I seriously didn’t realize how much my hands would burn from peeling, chopping and grating all of that ginger.  It was almost like working with chiles!

Two weeks ago I had purchased a huge coconut from the produce market.  I didn’t get to it as quickly as I should have and when I did . . . it was a lot of work for nothing.  It had taken a trip south and the flesh next to the shell was spotted with black and pink mold.  I absolutely love fresh coconut and was ready to enjoy the fruits of my labors only to be disappointed on so many levels.  Throwing it out was heartbreaking.  I did better with the coconut I bought last week and am still enjoying fresh coconut as a mid-day snack in addition to some that was grated and frozen for future use.  Some coconut shortbread has been lurking in the corners of my mind.

and Brioche:

mini brioche

Yes, more brioche.  It is a current obsession.  The small, French-made brioche molds I had ordered arrived last week so it was time to thaw some of the previously frozen dough and try them out.  I made some mini brioche with plain dough and some brioche à tête with half of the peanut butter dough.  (The à tête part needs improvement.)  I am so thrilled with these little pans!  Twelve of them are perfect for half of the brioche recipe, but I find myself wanting twelve more.

And the peanut butter brioche:  I am not mad at it at all.  There is just a hint of peanut butter that I would like to be a bit more pronounced, so I may try increasing the amount of peanut butter slightly in the next batch.  (I’ve not even baked all of the dough yet and I’m planning another batch.) 

On Monday I’m going to bake the other half of the frozen dough and I think a filling of some bittersweet chocolate ganache will be just perfect.

peanut butter brioche à tête
This is the recipe as I made it, but next time I'll swap out a little more butter for more peanut butter.  The recipe is written for loaves since most people have loaf pans and I recognize not everyone gets as excited as I do about brioche molds.

Peanut Butter Brioche
Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang

2-1/4 cups (315 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour
2-1/4 cups (340 g) bread flour
3-1/4 tsp (11 g) active dry yeast (not instant)
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs (82 g) granulated sugar
1 Tbs (14 g) kosher salt
1/2 cup (120 g) cold water
5 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 Tbs (255 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
1/4 cup (55 g) creamy peanut butter

Egg Wash
1 large egg, room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch granulated sugar

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flours, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and five of the eggs.  Mix on low speed for 3 – 4 minutes, until all of the ingredients come together.  Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl about halfway through.  Mix an additional 3 – 4 minutes after the dough has come together.  It will be rather stiff and seem somewhat dry.

Still on low speed, begin adding the butter one piece at a time.  Mix after each addition until the butter cube completely disappears into the dough.  Add the peanut butter in two additions.  This entire process may take up to 10 minutes.  Don’t rush it.  Once all of the butter and peanut butter have been worked in, continue mixing on low speed for 10 minutes to completely incorporate the butter into the dough.  Stop the mixer a couple of times to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Turn the mixer up to medium speed and continue mixing for another 15 minutes.  Be patient – the dough will look really shaggy at first.  Eventually, the dough will look soft and sticky, perhaps even shiny and then become smooth and silky.  Turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for one minute.  By this time, the dough shouldn’t be sticking to the sides of the bowl at all and you should hear it slapping the bowl. 

Stop the mixer and grab a piece of dough with your finger tips and pull it gently.  It should stretch and have some give without being sticky or breaking.  If the dough is still wet and sticky, add flour a tablespoon of flour and mix until it comes together, repeating as necessary to get the smooth, silky dough.  If the dough breaks off when you pull it, mix on medium speed for another 2 – 3 minutes to develop more strength.  Ultimately, you should be able to pull the dough together and pick it up all in one piece.

Place the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface.  Refrigerate the dough for at least six hours or overnight.  (At this point the dough can also be tightly wrapped in plastic, placed in a zipper bag or an airtight container and frozen for up to a week.  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.)

To make brioche loaves, prepare two bread pans with buttered parchment and set aside.  Divide the dough in half.   Press each half into a 9” x 9” inch square.  Fold the dough into thirds like a letter.  Press lightly to seal the layers.  Place the dough seam side down into the prepared pans.  Cover the pans lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot about four hours, or until the loaves are almost doubled in size.  When properly risen the top of the loaf should be rounded and even with the rim of the pan.

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F for at least 20 minutes.

Prepare the egg wash by vigorously beating the egg along with the pinch of salt and pinch of sugar.  You want to break up the white as much as possible.  Very gently brush the tops of the brioche with the egg wash.  (You’ll have a lot left over – you can freezer it or just discard it.)  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired.

Bake the brioche for 35 – 45 minutes until the top and sides are shiny and golden brown.  More reliably, check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer.  The brioche should be 190°F.  Remove the pans to a rack and allow the brioche to cool in the pans for 30 minutes.  Remove the loaves from the pans and allow the brioche to cool completely on the rack.

The brioche can be kept tightly wrapped for three days at room temperature.  The cooled loaves can also be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to a month.


  1. Peanut butter brioche? That sounds incredible. I bet it would be fantastic with some chocolate ganache inside it too. Peanut butter and chocolate is my favorite combination. You come up with so many creative recipes to make. I've never imagined something like this before!

    1. The idea for peanut butter brioche actually came from my friend, Rhonda. When I put a photo of the chocolate brioche on Facebook she asked me if it came in peanut butter (she's one of those people who doesn't like chocolate). It made me think, "why not?" I would totally be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to trying the peanut butter brioche with the chocolate ganache tomorrow!

      (And I'm going to try to adapt your brown butter coconut waffle recipe to pancakes so I don't have to buy a waffle iron!)


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