On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Brioche Snails

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Ahh bread. Love it. And really enjoying working with it.

It’s been almost 12 months since we were on the other side of the world. I remember while in Paris Mum asked if we’d had Brioche for breakfast yet.

Truth is I didn’t know what it was. I had to Google it. The best I could do was take a photo of a Brioche loaf that we found in the little Supermarket.

Over past few months I’ve bookmarked a few Brioche recipes. Actually I’ve bookmarked a LOT of recipes.

This is a photo of what was I grabbed for our first breakfast at the hotel , and that photo from the Supermarket. Whatever it is on the left of the plate is what I thought Brioche might be. I’m still not sure.

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Interesting that what we see as a bit of a specialty bread is sold at the supermarket like any loaf of bread.

Almost 12 months later I gave Brioche a go. And it was relatively easy if only I could understand the written instructions. I’ll get to that in a minute.

This is what the Brioche Snails look like complete, with Lime Frosting:

Single serve Brioche Snail

But we need to look at how we got there, and what the journey was like.

The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s book My Home to Yours. I don’t have the book, but someone had kindly copied the recipe out, and then someone else had been part of “Tuesday’s with Dorie” and had made the Brioche, using it for the Brioche Scrolls. It’s this second link that has the recipe for the Lime Pastry Cream.  The frosting is the same as I made for the Cinnamon Rolls, minus the cream because I had more Lime juice (1/4 cup).

It’s a long process, but mostly because the dough has to sit overnight in the fridge. There was a fair bit of slapping and manhandling on my part before not only could the dough rest, but me too. I didn’t climb into bed until 11:20pm, waaaay past my bedtime. I started this before 7pm.

Right, now for the photos and story telling. The first set are taken at night, so there’s some mood lighting. Not really, it’s just a lack of anything that resembles “natural light”.

Making Brioche Dough

First up is a shot of the dough having the water, milk, salt and yeast mixed to a “shaggy dry mix”. Then there’s the eggs followed by the sugar, and a PILE of butter. If you’re worried about all that butter, then this is not the sort of bread you should be eating. But I wont tell if you don’t Winking smile

Simple ingredients and pretty simple method of incorporating them. You start adding the butter in 2 tablespoons at a time until it’s almost all disappeared. You need to know that the butter preferred to hang out on the sides of my bowl and have nothing to do with the actual dough. To begin with the dough is really tough, but the more butter that is incorporated the slacker the dough is until its this beautiful golden colour, thanks to the butter. It’s soft and very pliable. It took me 15 minutes to get all the butter in, and then only 5 minutes of what was suggested to be 10 minutes, before the dough no longer stuck to the side of the bowl. Actually it was good after 3 minutes. I was just too scared that if I didn’t keep kneading it in the KitchenAid that I’d be doing it a disservice.

Talking of all this heavy mixing and length of time, understandably the KA was getting very warm. I kept hoping not to see any smoke. I don’t want to think about having to wait the full 10 minutes before the dough no longer stuck to the side of the bowl.

Overnight Brioche Dough

When the dough is finished kneading you leave it to rest in a bowl for around 40-60 minutes. That’s pretty quick going. And it was all it took, just 60 minutes. It still looked really good. I completely misunderstood the instructions about deflating the dough. This is what it says: Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl.

What did I do? Pick up a piece of the dough from the side of the bowl, stretch it and let it fall into the bowl. But it never slapped. And I didn’t understand. It wasn’t until the very last “deflation” at 11:20pm that it finally dawned on me how I was meant to deflate it.

So this is it, scoop your hands down between the dough and the side of the bowl, lift the whole lot up and then let the dough go, sending it back to the bowl which will result in the “slapping” sound. So for 2 hours, or 5 rounds of deflation I manhandled the dough by pulling bits from around the bowl.

What worried me more was leaving the dough uncovered overnight. I understood the dough needed to dry out a little, but I fully expected that it would dry with a slight crust to the top. And it did. And it was my turn to feel deflated. I really thought it was ruined. I went back to gottagetbaked’s website and looked at her photos of the dough being prepared for the pans and I knew it was not even close to what mine looked like. See how dry and solid it looks (above).

I decided to take a pinch of the dough and roll it into a ball to see if it softened up with the warmth of my hands. It did. Relief.

Next up was the Pastry Cream. It needed to be cold and I needed to get the Brioche Snails ready for the second rise by around 11:30am.

Lime Pastry Cream

The Pastry Cream was straight forward. Understanding “the consistency of pudding” still baffles me. I don’t know what “pudding” is, it could be any warmed dessert, but I sort of assume it’s like an Instant Pudding. I haven’t had that since I was a kid. A good many decades ago now!

I guess we need to back up a little here. I was looking for lemons at the supermarket on Friday, I wanted to make another batch of Lemon Curd, but there weren’t any lemons! As an aside, when I nipped to the local supermarket today, they didn’t have lemons either. Given there were no lemons I decided to splash out and buy Limes. I just needed to think of how I was going to use them. You can then imagine my joy when I found the recipe for the Brioche Snails using Lime Pastry Cream. It’s like all the planets had lined up.

With the cost of Limes there was no way I was going to let all that Lime zest go to waste. So I zested the limes first (and the zest is in the freezer) before squeezing the juice. I had to zap the limes in the microwave for 20 seconds or so to make them more ready to give up the juice.

Pastry Cream consistency

For anyone in doubt of the sort of consistency you’re after for “pudding”, hopefully the above photo will be helpful. I actually hadn’t left enough time, the thickening of the cream was taking a lot longer than the recipe suggested. In the end I put the cream into the freezer, first for 10 minutes, and then back in for the time I was away to the supermarket and back (possibly 20 minutes). When I got home I removed the cream and noticed the free-flow strawberries the bowl had been resting on now contained partially defrosted strawberries.

Making Brioche Snails

I don’t really know what Gingersnaps are, I can only think of Brandy Snaps, and only because of the snap. We had a packet of Gingernuts up in the “Naughty Pantry”, they were well passed their best by date, as is many of the naughty things in that pantry, but I gave 5 or so of them a bash with the rolling pin and they were still hard, and still needed many whacks of the rolling pin to crush. I also tested one, it still had enough crunch to make me hope it wasn’t going to knock a front tooth out.

I should have floured the surface but because the Silpat had a slight greasy feel and the dough seemed quite stiff I didn’t. But I paid for that when it came to rolling the dough up. Once the dough is rolled out nice and thin it’s back to being tacky and silky. And that meant it was reluctant to part ways with the Silpat. On went the pastry cream followed by the beaten up Gingernuts. And I rolled and pushed and sort of made the right shape out of the dough.

Slicing it was the next hurdle. I guess I thought it would be as clean and easy as the Cinnamon Rolls I made on Thursday. Wrong. I used the nylon thread which had worked so well for me then, and it did work well, but with the dough being so soft and with a wet-ish filling, it all wanted to slop out and sag.

Making snails

It didn’t take me long to realise that I should slice the whole thing up first before moving a slice to the muffin pan, which I sprayed first. I didn’t want to end up in tears because the jolly thing wouldn’t release from the pan.

As well as making the snails I used the other half of the dough to make little balls which were rolled in castor sugar, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and ginger. I would say you could bypass all that singular spice for good old Mixed Spice, something I understand isn’t available in the States.  I followed the directions from Noshing with the Nolands.

Bioche Balls 2nd rise

I also make mini Brioche loaves. I want to use the bread for French Toast, I’ve heard it’s the best.

Brioche Mini Loaves

These set of photos also show the before and after 2nd rise, which you need to allow 90 minutes for.

Brioche Snails 2nd rise

Unlike other bread, Brioche continues to rise during baking. I was sitting at the table, eating the Lasagne I made ANZAC day (yet to write that one up – I suspect it’ll be a mammoth task and I’m procrastinating) with Mr Fussy, my MIL and Mum and keeping an eye on the oven. I was almost convinced the snails would rise so much they’d pop out of the tin.

Baked Brioche Snails

After baking you could sort of make out that the snails were in fact rolled. Sort of.

And the little sugar/spice balls:

Brioche Muffin Balls

And the mini loaves:

Baked Brioche Mini Loaves

Under normal circumstances you’d brush the loaves with an egg wash, but since I’ll be using MY loaf for French Toast, which will be soaked in egg I decided it wasn’t necessary.

I guess I’m a little disappointed with the bread on several levels.

  • The Lime Pastry Cream was completely absorbed into the bread.
  • The Lime in the Pastry Cream was barely recognisable, I hoped the flavour would develop during the time it was in the fridge. It didn’t.
  • The Ginger taste was non-existent. Mum made a comment about it at lunch and Mr Fussy was taken completely by surprise, he had no idea there was Ginger in there.

The texture wasn’t nearly as silky as the photo that I saw on the blog culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.

Snail texture

All in all I enjoyed making the Brioche, even though re-reading through the post it sounds like I didn’t. While there are aspects of the Brioche that didn’t live up to my expectations, and I have nothing to gauge it on, never having had Brioche, the Snails were still pleasant to eat, albeit a little egg-y due to the pastry cream being absorbed. I’ve got 8 left, then the little balls, and plenty of frosting. I think we’ll be eating Brioche in many forms for a few days yet.


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