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Julia Child's Pâte a Brioche

brioche.jpg
Brioche
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Mixing and Kneading The Dough

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) dry active
  • 3 tablespoons hot water (not over 110 degrees) in a cup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:
Sprinkle the yeast over the hot water, add the salt and sugar, and let yeast dissolve and rise in a soft mass on top of the liquid. This will take 5 minutes or so, prepare rest of ingredients while yeast is proving itself.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (9 ounces) all purpose flour (measure by dipping dry-measure cup into flour; level off excess with straight-edged knife)
  • ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs (U.S. graded “large”)
  • 1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) chilled butter

Directions:
Blend flour, sugar salt, eggs, and dissolved yeast in a mixing bowl with a rubber spatula, then turn out onto a pastry board or marble. Begin lifting dough and throwing it roughly down on the board with one hand; it will be very soft and sticky. Continue lifting, throwing, and scraping dough back into a mass; when dough has enough body, begin kneading with the heel of your hand.

After a few minutes of vigorous work, dough should have enough elasticity and body so that it barely sticks to your hand; it is now ready to receive the butter. Soften the butter by beating it with a rolling pin, then smearing it out on your board with the heel of your hand until it is perfectly smooth and about the same consistency as the dough.

Take a 2-tablespoon bit in your fingers and work it into the dough by beating, stirring vigorously, and smearing the dough around on the board. Dough will seem ropy and stringy, but smooths out as it absorbs the butter. Continue working in butter by bits until all has been incorporated and dough again barely sticks to your hand.

Then place dough in a clean bowl, sprinkle top with a teaspoon of flour, and cut a cross in the top with scissors (to help in rising). Put bowl in a plastic bag, or cover with a damp towel.

Rising

Brioches are lighter in texture if the dough has two risings before its final rising in the baking molds. For the first rising, set at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours or longer, until dough has risen by at least 2/3 and retreats slightly to the pressure of your finger. (Because of high butter content, rising temperature should not be over around 70 degrees; let rise several hours in refrigerator in hot weather.)

Remove from bowl, punch down, and knead for a moment. Replace in bowl, sprinkle lightly with flour, and set in a refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours until doubled in bulk. ( If left overnight, cover with a plate and weight to prevent overrising.) Do not allow dough to rise more than double or yeast will overferment before forming dough, punch down again. (Dough may then be frozen.)

Baking

For a 6- to 7-cup baking mold, or 8 muffin cups. Bake a 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes until golden brown.

Serves 6 people

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In 1961, as a recent graduate of the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, Julia Child co-authored the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and launched her career of educating Americans in delicious ways with food. In 1963 she began her own cooking show The French Chef, produced at WGBH. This recipe was published in The French Chef Cookbook*.

Watch these newly digitized episodes from the first year of The French Chef (1963) and learn more about Julia Child's life and career here.

*THE FRENCH CHEF COOKBOOK by Julia Child, copyright © 1968 by Julia Child. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. For online information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet Web Site at randomhouse.com.

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