Let me tell you why I suck and why my brioche-making skills are not unlike this.
Brioche haunts me. I hear about it all the time, how buttery and lush and fabulous it is, how it puts all other breads to shame, how it makes an insanely good bread pudding and the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich. I especially love when a recipe says "one loaf brioche" like I just happen to have one on hand, like my po-dunk grocery store carries something beyond WonderBread, like I'm going to back up 12 hours and get one started so it's ready in time.
My feathers are a bit ruffled.
So despite my unending troubles with yeast and the general pang of fear that strikes each time I sprinkle the lively little buds into some warm water, I forged ahead. I hesitated to use my precious butter on a recipe that could potentially be disastrous, because then I would lie awake at night thinking of all the things I could've made with all that butter and oh, it would be cruel.
I have tried my hand at brioche before, and I used TK's recipe, but it was a total flop. I am sure it was my own doing since Mr. Keller isn't one for mistakes, but somewhere along the line I began to question the sanity behind rolling the dough out immediately after taking it out of the chilly fridge. With that much butter in the dough, it was hard as a rock, and it split and cracked and cried the entire time. Defeat.
This time, I figured - what the hell - let's go all the way. I decided on brioche au chocolat, or brioche stuffed with pastry cream and chocolate. The recipe was different from the start, it blends the yeast with the flour first, then you add cold water to the mixture before things really get going. Cold water? Yeast? Interesting. Everything was going along swimmingly, I scooped in an unholy amount of butter and watched the dough slap-slap-slap against the sides of the silver bowl before deciding fifteen minutes of beating was much to long for me to sit and stare and I ought to go do something valuable with my time.
Don't make that same mistake. I left the kitchen for five minutes and I came back to see my KitchenAid teetering on the edge of the counter, having walked its way to the cliff of doom with the nonstop rocking produced by super-elastic dough beating about the bowl. It all happened in slow motion, I ran toward it, arms outstretched, begging it not to jump, you have so MUCH to live for, KitchenAid! So many cookies! Cakes! Buttercreams! GOD HELP ME!
[Breathing into a paper bag.]
I rescued it, just in time. Hallelujah.
Now this dough is something differently entirely. It is fluffy and smooth and silky, perfectly stretchable even straight from the wintry depths of the refrigerator. With a slick of vanilla scented pastry cream and a sprinkle of chocolate chips, they bake up to a handsome shade of golden brown with the unmistakable scent of melted butter.
So, you can imagine my disappointment when I sliced the pastries open only to find the cream had completely been absorbed into the bread and the chocolate chips were spread so thin you could barely notice them. I scratched my head and pouted and pawned off the leftovers on the kids at church for snack time the next day, but that didn't solve my problem. I won't lie - this recipe is a lot of work. And for all my effort, such a lackluster result? I weep.
As I was typing up the recipe in the wee hours of the morning, my eye landed on the top of the ingredient list - half a recipe of brioche dough. Half. HALF. How did I miss that? No wonder I ended up with piles and piles of pillowy dough, I used twice as much as was required for my amount of filling. Please, I implore you, do not let this be you.
Adapted from Flour Bakery.