A Tale of Two Brioches, pt. 1Posted: January 18, 2009
Tina found this Cooks Illustrated guide to brioche, and whipped up two loaves which we incorporated into two very different recipes: a sort of Frenchified bruschetta that we brought to a dinner party last night and a brioche french toast with strawberry-apricot compote that we had for brunch this morning. I’m going to cover the bruschetta here and let Tina tackle the French Toast in the next post.
First of all, here’s the Brioche Loaf recipe we used.
1 envelope dry active yeast
1/2 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
2.25 cups unbleached AP flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1. Whisk yeast into milk and stir in 1 cup of flour. Cover and set aside.
2. Put butter, sugar and salt in a food processesor and pulse, scraping sides of bowl often, until the mixture is smooth and soft. Add eggs one at a time and process until fully incorporated (the mixture may look curdled, don’t worry).
3. Add remaining 1.25 cups of flour and then the yeast mixture (scrape the sides of bowl with spatula to get every bit). Pulse until a soft and smooth dough comes together and then process for 15 seconds straight.
Turn sticky dough out on a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
4. Grease the vessel you plan on baking the dough in. I divided the dough between two greased 8″ cake pans. Pat dough down and cover tightly with plastic wrap and a towel. Place in a warm place to rise until doubled (1-2 hours). Preheat oven to 350F, brush tops of brioche with milk and bake until brioche is golden. It took about 25 minutes for the brioche divided into the two cake pans.
So, the idea for this appetizer is based on some Pan Con Tomate we had at Bar Carrera. This was a very soft piece of brioche topped with a “tomato chutney” and some powdered olive oil (for an obnoxious video explanation, see here). So I guess this dish is really a take-off on a traditional Spanish dish, rather than Italian bruschetta, but I’d never had pan con tomate before so bruschetta was my closest reference point. That said, it was really interesting how the familiar rich tomato taste of bruschetta was recontextualized with the sweet bread underneath instead of a saltier crostini.
Now, we weren’t about to go out and spend a third of our weekly budget on tapioca maltodextrin, but since neither brioche nor tomato chutney are too pricey to make at home, we thought we could make a decent version of the dish if we drizzled the tomato with regular old olive oil – you know, the liquid. Exactly the same as Bar Carrera’s? No. Very tasty? Yes. Frugal? Totally can be.
Brioche Con Tomate
1 brioche loaf (see above)
1 large can of whole tomatoes
1 Tbsp chopped rosemary or basil, whatever you prefer
sea salt and pepper
1. Take one of the tomatoes and use your fingers to rip it into small bits over a medium saucepan. Repeat with all the tomatoes in the can. The juice they release should be enough liquid for the compote. Add the herbs, a little salt and pepper (remember, you want to keep the sweetness of the tomatoes at the forefront), and maybe a teaspoon of olive oil. Let it cook for 20 minutes or so, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes as they cook.
2. Let the sauce cool completely it in the fridge or just place it by your perpetually drafty living room windows. Meanwhile, cut some squares of brioche and then split them length-wise to expose the softer inside bit.
3. Top the brioche with the chilled tomato sauce (nay, chutney), drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with a very little bit coarse sea salt – fleur de sel if you happen to have some. If you wanna be fancy, you could put a little chiffonaded basil on there too. Serve!