Brioche Berry Pudding – something gorgeous for Mother’s Day!

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This is a post I did a couple of years ago on Mother’s Day. It is bright, cheery and gorgeous, just the thing to make for mom,especially after such a long winter. We MN mom’s need a bit of sunshine!

Some things are worth a little more effort, right! Like a dessert for your mom on Mother’s Day.  This berry pudding is really very simple to make, but I admit it will take just a bit longer than 5 minutes to put together. Berry puddings are a slightly retro English sweet and I think they deserve a come back. Their drop dead gorgeous color comes from the dark berry juice soaked brioche, hiding a treasure of sweet, slightly drunken berries within.

You just can’t resist something this wonderful and if you have a bucket of brioche on hand it will go together really very easily. Happy Spring to you all! Continue reading

A Sneak Peek at the Red Star Yeast Test Kitchen!

This is Roberto, one of the luckiest people I have ever met. He and Mark, who run the test kitchen at Red Star Yeast, have what I consider a dream job. They work in this amazing kitchen to come up with all kinds of yeasty treats. The equipment is top notch, the ingredients limitless and the space is massive. I have kitchen envy in a big way. No wonder they are such fantastically nice guys. They were kind enough to invite Jeff and me into their kitchen to play with them. We baked all kinds of breads from our books and did presentations to the rest of the Red Star team. Continue reading

“King Cake” for Mardi Gras!

Don’t adjust the color balance on your monitor, this “cake” really is purple, green and gold. King Cake, named for the three kings who came to bring gifts to Jesus, is traditionally served during Mardi Gras in New Orleans and throughout the South. Not only is it decorated with the colors of the festival, but it also has a hidden trinket in the dough. I’ve used an almond, but in New Orleans bakers often use a ceramic or plastic doll to represent the baby Jesus. The person who gets the slice with the trinket is responsible for making the King Cake the following year.

There are many versions of this sweet bread, depending on the traditions of different families. Our version is made with Brioche dough which has nutmeg, lemon zest and citron added into it.  The dough can be Braided and/or formed into a Couronne (crown shape) as I have done here. Some bakers even use a cream cheese and praline filling, but we went with a more traditional filling. Continue reading

Soft Thanksgiving Pull Apart Buns!

Happy Thanksgiving! We wish you all a wonderful holiday and lots of fresh bread at your table to share with family and friends. I’m making these soft pull apart buns for our dinner tonight. They are perfect for sopping up gravy and making little turkey sandwiches.  You can do this with any of our doughs, but I used the brioche from ABin5 to get a luxurious texture and the soft crust that so many people associate with this style bun.

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Mini Brioche a Tête (Video of Mixing Brioche Dough in a Stand Mixer, Shaping and Baking!)

You can mix our doughs in a big bucket with a Danish dough whisk, which is our standard, or you can mix in a stand mixer. Jeff and I tend to use the bucket, because it is one less thing to wash, but some people find that it is easier to make the doughs in a mixer and then transfer them. Either way produces wonderful dough, so pick your own way.

In the video I share a few tricks for mixing up Brioche that are even faster than what we wrote in the book. I love the taste of this buttery bread and the mini versions are wonderful because they take a fraction of the time to rest and bake. They make perfect soft buns for dinner or you can spread them with preserves for breakfast.

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Mother’s Day Danish Braid

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This weekend I over did it. Not with buckets of dough, but in my garden. I am determined to recreate the organic urban farm I had last year, but this time I am doing it without the aid of a professional farmer. Just me, a bunch of compost/manure and my dad, who happens to be a long time green thumb. I spent 12 hours prepping the beds and getting in some seeds. At the end of the day my right hand (the hand I write with) was so swollen I couldn’t move my fingers, tendonitis. The Dr. says not to use it for 2 weeks ~ 2 WEEKS! (I am typing this with one hand.) In order to do this post I enlisted my friend Jen to help make a Danish Braid. She is a great sport and it turns out quite skilled at modeling/braiding/baking.

The braid is made with the Brioche from ABin5, but you can do this same thing with any of the enriched doughs from that book or HBin5. We’ve done this same technique with savory fillings, so let your imagination go wild and let us know what you come up with.

Happy Mother’s Day! Continue reading

Cinnamon Swirl French Toast

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It is Sunday morning, the sun is shining, the snow is finally melting and I’m as happy as could be! Seems the perfect time to have a lavish, albeit easy, breakfast. Last night I took out my bucket of brioche dough, rolled in some cinnamon sugar and baked a gorgeous swirly bread. This morning I sliced it, soaked it in custard and made it into sublime French toast. Nothing better than that and with a bucket of dough on hand it is quick and easy.

Here are some other great breakfast ideas from our books/website:

Bacon & Egg in Toast

Homemade English Muffins

Aunt Melissa’s Granola

Almond Bear Claws

Fresh Fruit “Muffins”

Apricot Pastry

Breakfast Pizza

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Whole Wheat Brioche from Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day!

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(picture from color insert of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, taken by Mark Luinenburg)

The brioche dough in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day was the very first recipe I developed after meeting Jeff and deciding to write the book together. It seemed a natural place to start considering my pastry chef roots and absolute love of this quintessential enriched bread. I had plenty of experience making it the traditional way after working in a restaurant with Andrew Zimmern. He put a fabulous sandwich on the lunch menu that was served on fresh brioche. I went to work early, got the butter to just the right temperature, made sure the room was also at the proper temperature and then set about on the long journey which is brioche dough. Too much work, although fabulous. Fast forward a decade and I meet Jeff, he introduces me to his method and I try melting the butter and just dumping it, along with all the other ingredients in a bucket and quickly stirring. Low and behold I have a luxurious brioche dough in a couple minutes of stirring. I was thrilled and only wished I’d figured this out when Andrew set that lunch menu all those years ago.

For Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day we still wanted to offer a variation of sweets and enriched breads, but they had to fit with our goal of healthier ingredients. This meant less white flour, less sweeteners, less fat and yet still delicious, tender and rich. It took some time to develop, but we came to just the right balance and now I use this dough for everything from a Tarte Tatin crust to my kids’ sandwiches.

But, in the final push of producing the book some numbers were switched around and it makes the recipe as written in the book unworkable–this only affects the very first printing in 2009. We are sad to see any mistakes in the book, and in particular one that will be such a staple to our readers. We apologize and below is the correct recipe. Continue reading

Julia Child’s Beef Wellington, With Our Brioche Crust (Filet de Boeuf en Croûte)

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Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking has a terrific French bread recipe, but it takes about three days to prepare– still, it was one of the first loaves I ever was really, really happy with years ago.  Back then, I wasn’t thinking about brioche, or brioche-wrapped beef tenderloin, but you can bet that I am now.  The brioche recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is one of the most popular ones in our book.  Recently I remembered that Julia Child’s Beef Wellington recipe actually calls for brioche rather than the more traditional puff pastry (it’s in Volume Two of “Mastering the Art…”).  Voilà!  Easy Beef Wellington?  Well, all I can tell you is that the pastry part becomes easy if you have our brioche dough in the freezer or fridge.  And the result is scrumptious and festive.  But five minutes a day?  Well… Continue reading

Apple and Pear Coffee Cake with Brioche

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The University of Minnesota is a leader in developing new varieties of apples. Among them are the Haralson, Honeycrisp, Prairie Spy and dozens more. The latest to hit the markets is the Sweetango. The new apple is sweet and juicy, like its mother (Honeycrisp), but it has a little more acid to it, from dad (Zestar). The combination is incredibly tasty with a lovely snap.

I moved here from Vermont where the quintessential baking apple was the McIntosh. Now that I live in the land of 10,000 lakes and almost as many apples I like to use a variety of them in my baking. I combine apples that will break down and those that will keep their shape. I also like to use some that are sweet and others that have a bit more acid. To add a bit of perfume and richness to the mix I add a bit of pear.

This coffee cake is a perfect way to show off the autumns best apples. Mixed with brioche and streusel topping the cake is great for brunch or an after school snack. Continue reading