Twice-Baked Brioche

1/2 recipe BRIOCHE - Silverton (see below)

The Syrup:
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c water
1/2 c orange juice
1 vanilla bean -- split and scraped

The Cream:
4 oz. unsalted butter
1/2 c ground almonds
1/2 lb almond paste
2 lg. eggs - room temperature
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp almond extract

sliced almonds
powdered sugar

Bake a brioche loaf according to directions (can use old previously frozen brioche). Trim crust from all sides and top of brioche (not bottom). Cut loaf into thick slices so that they will stand up on a sheet pan.

For syrup: Put all ingredients into a sauce pan, boil over medium heat for 1 minute to dissolve the sugar, cool completely and discard vanilla pod. Can be kept for a week refrigerated.

For the Cream: Working at low speed in mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, almonds, and almond paste together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until fully blended. Add flour and mix for another minute. Fold in almond extract. Can be kept refrigerated for 3 days.

Preheat oven to 325F. Set a cooling rack over a sheet pan to be used for draining the syrup soaked pieces. Line another sheet pan with parchment for baking.

One by one submerge the brioche slices into the soaking syrup, making sure that they are well moistened. Place each slice onto rack to drain.

As soon as the last slice has been soaked, begin working on the first slice that you submerged.

Spread a thin layer of the almond cream over the top and sides of each slice. Place the coated slices standing on the uncoated bottom on the parchment lined sheet pan. Press sliced almonds into cream on the top of each slice.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cream is golden brown. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

BRIOCHE - Silverton

1/3 C. warm whole milk (100F to 110F)
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 large egg
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 C. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 large eggs -- lightly beaten
1 1/2 C. unbleached all-purpose flour -- (approx.)
6 oz. unsalted butter -- at room temp.

Makes about 2 1/4 pounds dough. Brioche is an elegant yeasted dough, a cross between bread and pastry. It is rich with butter and eggs, just a little sweet, pullable--a gentle tug, and the bread stretches in long, lacy strands-and fine-textured, the result of being beaten for close to half an hour.

There is nothing difficult about making this perfect brioche, but you do need time and a heavy-duty mixer. Preparing this brioche will familiarize you with the texture and mixing pattern of other yeast doughs that include butter--all of which come together like standard bread doughs, fall apart with the addition of butter (a sight that strikes panic into the hearts of first-timers), and come together once again.

In this version, the brioche is made with a sponge, which gives the yeast a leisurely proofing period and deep flavor. You'll notice that the sponge instructions call for adding the dry yeast without a presoak to dissolve it. This is an unusual technique, one more commonly associated with the use of fresh yeast. If you have your doubts--have a bite.

Put the milk, yeast, egg, and 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Mix the ingredients together with a rubber spatula, mixing just until everything is blended. Sprinkle over the remaining cup of flour to cover the sponge.

Set the sponge aside to rest uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes. After this resting time, the flour coating will crack, your indication that everything is moving along properly.

Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge. Set the bowl into the mixer, attach the dough hook, and mix on low speed for a minute or two, just until the ingredients look as if they're about to come together. Still mixing, sprinkle in 1/2 cup more flour. When the flour is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 15 minutes, stopping to scrape down the hook and bowl as needed. During this mixing period, the dough should come together, wrap itself around the hook, and slap the sides of the bowl. If, after 7 to 10 minutes, you don't have a cohesive, slapping dough, add up to 3 Tb. more flour. Continue to beat, giving the dough a full 15 minutes in the mixer--don't skimp on this time; this is what will give the brioche its distinctive texture.

WARNING: Be warned--your mixer will become extremely hot. Most heavy-duty mixers designed for making bread can handle this long heating, although if you plan to make successive batches of dough, you'll have to let your machine cool down completely between batches.

In order to incorporate the butter into the dough, you must work the butter until it is the same consistency as the dough. You can bash the butter into submission with a rolling pin or give it kinder and gentler handling by using a dough scraper to smear it bit by bit across a smooth work surface. When it's ready, the butter will be smooth, soft, and still cool--not warm, oily, or greasy.

With the mixer on medium-low, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. This is the point at which you'll think you've made a huge mistake, because the dough that you worked so hard to make smooth will fall apart--carry on. When all of the butter has been added, raise the mixer speed to medium-high for a minute, then reduce the speed to medium and beat the dough for about 5 minutes, or until you once again hear the dough slapping against the sides of the bowl. Clean the sides of the bowl frequently as you work; if it looks as though the dough is not coming together after 2 to 3 min, add up to 1 TB. more flour. When you're finished, the dough should still feel somewhat cool. It will be soft and still sticky and may cling slightly to the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a very large buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Deflate the dough by placing your fingers under it, lifting a section of dough and then letting it fall back into the bowl. Work your way around the circumference of the dough, lifting and releasing. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight, or for at least 4 to 6 hours, during which time it will continue to rise and may double again in size.

After this long chill, the dough is ready to use in any brioche recipe.

Source of recipe: Baking with Julia

Twice-Baked Brioche