Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brioche French Toast

The King Arthur Flour website is the source for this recipe. They make hard wheat flour which is supposed to make better yeast bread than our Southern soft wheat formulas (Think White Lily and Martha White brands.) I made Brioche Bread for Kelley's birthday weekend in the mtns, but we never got around to making French Toast from it. The recipe I made was Ina Garten's which used 2 whole sticks of butter ! While I have not tried this one, I think it sounds much easier than the one I made, so I decided to share it with you!

My first experience with really good brioche was on a Celebrity ship in the Mediterranean. We ordered a pot of coffee each morning from room service. A couple of days when we had early shore excursions and no time for formal breakfast, I also ordered brioche. The cabin steward then took it upon himself to bring it with the coffee every morning! And, of course, I ate it whether we planned to also eat breakfast that day or not! After all, I didn't want to hurt his feelings. ;)

From the King Arthur Flour website:
Since French toast is all about the bread, the kind of bread you use makes a difference. You want a firm bread, one that can stand up to a good soak in egg and milk; but it shouldn't be so firm that frying makes it tough. We think butter- and egg-rich brioche is an ideal choice. Here we bake it in a 9" pain de mie pan, to create perfectly square slices; then dip it in a simple cinnamon- and nutmeg-scented batter before frying. Delicious!

2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 large eggs
1/4 cup lukewarm water
10 tablespoons butter

Batter for French Toast
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 large eggs
½ cup cream or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a stand mixer or bread machine (programmed for dough), mix together all of the ingredients to form a smooth, shiny dough. Don't worry; what starts out as a sticky mess becomes beautifully satiny as it kneads. This dough takes longer than most to develop, so be prepared to let the dough knead for up to 15 to 20 minutes in a stand mixer. Also, we don't recommend trying to knead it by hand. If you're using a bread machine, let it complete its kneading cycle, then continue as directed below.

Form the dough into a ball (it'll be very soft), place it in a greased bowl, cover the bowl, and it let rise for 1 hour. Then refrigerate the dough for several hours, or overnight. This will slow the fermentation and chill the butter, making the dough easier to shape.

Shape the dough into a 9" log, and place it in a lightly greased 9" pain de mie pan.(Helen's note: This is a fancy square pan with a lid. Use a loaf pan and cover with foil.) Cover the pan, and let the chilled dough come to room temperature, then rise to within 1 1/2" or so of the rim of the pan; this may take up to 5 hours or so.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Close the lid on the pain de mie pan, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and remove the lid; the bread should be golden brown, and register at least 205°F on an instant-read thermometer. Continue to bake for a few more minutes if the bread isn't done, then remove it from the oven, turn it out of the pan, and cool completely on a rack.

To make French toast: Let the loaf get a bit stale before using it for French toast. Or cut six 3/4" to 1"-thick slices of fresh brioche and let them sit, uncovered, for several hours.

Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, cream or milk, and vanilla. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Divide the batter among six saucers, and soak each piece of bread for about 2 minutes on each side, until it's absorbed most of the batter, but isn't soggy all the way through. While the bread is soaking, preheat your griddle.

Cook the French toast for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, or until it's golden brown; adjust the heat so it's not cooking too slowly or too quickly. Turn the toast over, and cook the second side until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

To serve, spread hot slices with butter, and drizzle with maple syrup.

Recipe summary
Hands-on time: 30 mins. to 35 mins. Baking time: 50 mins. to 60 mins. Total time: 8 hrs 15 mins. to 18 hrs 5 mins. Yield: 6 servingsOvernight

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