Brioche in Three Hours

Hello Bakers,

Yesterday, my demo - Brioche in Three Hours was cut short. My demo was part of the Women Chef's and Restaurateurs Conference that was held here in Los Angeles this weekend.
I was demoing with Chef Jack Mancino from Hudson River Valley Foie Gras and 45 minutes was not nearly long enough. His foie demo was amazing. Since brioche is perfect with foie gras - that was my contribution.
Well, time ran out and I could not finish my demo so I promised the attendees that my next blog post would be all about how to make brioche in three hours.
Usually, making brioche is a long process that involves bulk fermenting the dough in the refrigerator overnight. But before that the butter  is emulsified into the dough. This is fine and classic but it leaves a dough so soft that it has to be refrigerated overnight. It is next to impossible to shape without chilling.
A few years back when brioche hamburger buns were all the rage, the student cafe at the Art Institute often ran out - this is never good.  So I worked on changing the mixing method so that the buns could be made quickly and there would always be enough.
By using creaming method in the beginning, I was able to avoid adding the butter at the end.
Also, the dough could be shaped after a mere hour of bulk fermentation at room temperature.
The students mastered the technique quickly and the little cafe never ran out of buns.

Brioche can be shaped many ways. It can be shaped as an a tete if you have any a tete molds hanging around, as buns or as a loaf - loaves are often called "Nanterre". Larger loaves will take longer to proof and bake.

I hope I have aroused your curiosity, bakers, and that you will try this brioche. It's quick and easy - no gimmicks or rapid yeast - just the same ingredients but mixed differently.
This recipe belongs to my good friend and amazing bread baker, Michael Kalanty. If you have not purchased his first book "How to Bake Bread" please do so now. And his second book "How to Make More Bread" will be available soon. First book

Please try this brioche bakers and tell me what you think.
Also if you have questions, please ask, I am here to help.

Happy Baking!

Three Hour Brioche
A Baking with Colette Tutorial

Adapted from How to Bake Bread by Michael Kalanty
The ingredients in paranthesees yield a small batch.
9 (4.5) ounces water
1 ½ (3/4) ounces fresh yeast or ½ (1/4) ounce instant
12(6) ounces bread flour

1.    Combine well in a bowl – cover and let sit, covered, at room temperature for 45 minutes
Final Dough
11 ounces butter (5.5 ounces)
3(1.5) ounces of sugar
6 (3) eggs

1 # (pound) 8 ounces (12 ounces) bread flour
7/8 ounce of salt (22g) (11g)

                                                                                            mise en place

Demo Notes
1.   Dissolve the yeast in the water, add flour and mix until smooth.
2.   Let sit, covered, 45 minutes at room temperature.
                                                                              after 45 minutes
3.   In a mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – 6 minutes. 
4.   Add the eggs 2 at a time – mix each addition in well before adding the next. It will look broken, that's ok.

                                                                     It looks broken, that's ok
5.   Add the sponge mixture – mix until smooth.
                                  Add yeast paste
6.   Remove the paddle and attach the dough hook add the flour and the salt mix on speed 1 until it achieves “clean up” stage.
7.   This takes about 4 minutes. Then mix for another 2 minutes on speed 2 until smooth.
8.   Bulk ferment the dough in a buttered bowl, covered, for 1 hour until dough has doubled in size.
9.   Degas and shape as desired. Dough can also be overnight fermented.
                          two ounce portions
           Proofing in XL Ziploc bags with hot water
10.                Proof, egg wash, bake at 350 until golden brown, has an internal temperature of 205-210 and feels light.  If the brioche feels heavy return it to the oven for 5-7 minutes. The oven temperature can be reduced 25 degrees so that the brioche do not get too dark.
      Brioche freezes well.
                                                                                             So delicious 

St. Patrick's Day Irish Soda Bread-Louise's Recipe

Hello Bakers.

    Thursday is Saint Patrick's Day. That means corned beef and cabbage, green beer (maybe)
and Irish Soda Bread.
For years,  wherever I was working I would start to make my usual Irish Soda Bread a week before Saint Patrick's Day. It was always popular and a great way to tease the holiday.
It's a perfectly good Irish American soda bread recipe. In fact it is delicious. I hear your question, gentle reader, the soda bread we make here in the states is often sweeter then the soda bread made in Ireland.
    Recently one of my colleagues at Sur La Table, Louise, gave me her soda bread recipe. In fact, she gave me a packet of her recipes. I was thrilled.
Louise is a natural and talented baker and she held pastry chef and baking positions in several Los Angeles tea rooms and bakeries.
For ten years she was the pastry chef at Chado Tea Room. Now she works with us at Sur La Table and helps prep out recipes before class . She doesn't mind when I pepper her with questions. She is my link to a Los Angeles I wasn't here to bake or cook in. We are always so happy when she is with us in the kitchen at SLT, Farmer's Market.
     Now, here is where we come to the little did they know part....Louise, now retired and living quietly, had been in the past, a frequent contributor to many magazines and newspapers. Her recipes were everywhere.
Now back then in order for your recipe to printed and for you to be sought out to write recipes for Sunset Magazine and the Los Angeles Times you had to know what you were doing.
Magazines and newspapers had test kitchens staffed with expert bakers and cooks. Recipes were tested an average of three times before they went in to print. 
This is a huge contrast to today where very little testing is done. And recipes are vetted by reviews more then anything else.
     For this blog post we are returning to an earlier time - when you could cut a recipe out of a magazine and confidently make whatever it was without wasting time trolling through reviews.
   When I was a young cook, Thursday was food section day. That was always exciting.
I was clipping recipes out of the Chicago Tribune food pages at 12. The pink notebook that I glued my recipes into is still on the bookshelf.
The only time a recipe from a magazine or newspaper didn't work was when I screwed it up. 
And yes, I remember every time I did.

    In honor of Louise and Saint Patrick's Day, I encourage you to make this delicious Irish Soda Bread recipe.
I modernized it just a bit - the ingredients are by weight and yes, bakers percents. 

 Let me know what you are baking for Saint Patrick's Day, I would love to hear from you.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day.
Stay safe and of course,
Happy Baking!

Irish Soda Bread:
Louise's original recipe was published by Sunset magazine in March of 1992.
Serves 10-12

Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl
Spatula or wooden spoon
10" oven proof skillet, fry pan - cast iron, greased
or a 10" cake pan, grease and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
bowl for soaking raisins

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) (170g) currants, dark or golden raisins
1 tea bag (black tea, preferably Irish breakfast)
Boiling water to cover raisins

3 cups (13.5 ounces) (383g) Unbleached all purpose flour (I used King Arthur) (100%)
1/2 cup sugar (3.5 ounces) (99g) Granulated sugar (26%)
1 Tablespoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Eggs (3.4 ounces) (96g) (27%)
1 1/2 cup (12 ounces) (340g) Buttermilk (96%) ***if you don't have buttermilk combine 11 1/2 ounces milk with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons Melted butter (1.5 ounces) (43g) (11%)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Oven: 350 degrees

1. Cover currants or raisins with boiling water, add teabag to bowl and submerge.
Let sit for 5 minutes and then strain out the tea. Blot raisins dry with a paper towel.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Place in mixer bowl or large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla.

4. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until evenly moistened.
By hand this will take about 20 strokes.

If using the mixer, mix on low speed about 1 1/2 minutes.
The mixture will look quite wet - that's ok.

5. Place in prepared pan. Smooth surface with bowl scraper. Brush with extra buttermilk
and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
6. Using a serrated knife, score the surface of the loaf with an "X".

7. Bake at 350 degrees.
8. Start checking in 45 minutes. Irish soda bread is done when a cake tester or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Leftover Irish soda bread will keep a day or two, well wrapped, at room temperature or frozen up to one month.

Paul Hollywood's Ciabatta with Folds and Baker's Percentages

Hello Bakers,

My guess is that many of you are fans of the Great British Baking Show. I cannot get enough of this show.
I find it so inspiring. I want to do the challenges myself.
Now I love, love to bake and just, watching that show just wants me to bake more.
It goes further then that - my dream job would be to host or judge on that show. How much fun would that be?
There was a bread episode in Season Five that involved ciabatta. The contestants had to make Paul Hollywood's Ciabatta.
Now you can tell Paul is one of those bread guys - he loves bread and making bread and he has been doing it for ages. When he talks about baking bread in Greece and throughout Europe - I start to sweat and gentle reader, I never sweat.
Why do I sweat?  Because I imagine that baking bread in Greece and wherever else Paul traveled and baked was an amazing experience. That's kind of experience and learning that goes right into your bones and stays forever.
I never had the chance to bake like that in Europe but I did in the States and I can you it is heady stuff.
Back to earth and the kitchen.
Ciabatta is a bread that originally comes from the Lake Como region of Italy. There are regional breads in every area of Italy and it would take years to master them all.
Ciabatta is hydrated, really hydrated this recipe is 80% hydration which means hand shaping is next to impossible. It is coaxed more then shaped. It takes water, extra flour and a bowl scraper to get this dough were it needs to go and you have to be gentle.
The shape is that of a medieval slipper and that is also where the name comes from.
Ciabatta is another word for slipper - not modern slippers - more Merchant of Venice slippers - but Como not Venice.
The first time I made Paul Hollywood's Ciabatta, Daniel, my chef husband was not overly impressed.
The air bubbles, technically called "alevole" were not big enough and it was too flat.
Daniel is from that region of Italy and therefore takes a passionate view on Ciabatta.
Paul Hollywood's directions did not include folding the dough but I decided with the second batch to add three folds, thirty minutes apart. Since I was folding, I decreased the mixing time from 5-8 minutes to 3.
The results were amazing and Daniel pronounced it "very good". This is his highest praise.
When that is his comment about my baking or cooking, then I know I have done well.

I am putting this recipe baker's percentages. This will help you all with your baker's percentage practice.
There are also many versions of Paul Hollywood's ciabatta recipe on the internet. This is what happens when you are famous.But by having it baker's percentage you can make any size batch you like. It also employs the double hydration technique which is great for mixing a well hydrated dough.
I did added an additional 25g of water - just to get my crumb a little more open.
This recipe is authentic to modern day ciabatta.  In the early days when people were wearing medieval slippers, it probably had less salt since salt was heavily taxed at that time and a point of much contention.

For two good size ciabatta, I recommend you use 500g of flour. If you want one cut it in half, 250g.
Ciabatta freezes well and can be refreshed, once thawed, in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes.
Happy Baking!

Ciabatta with Folds adapted from The Great British Baking Show and Paul Hollywood's original recipe.

Stand mixer or dough whisk
Plastic bowl scraper
Medium bowl or small rectangle shaped plastic bin (tub)
 - brushed with olive oil.
Half sheet tray lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour
Spray bottle with water


500g Unbleached all purpose flour (100%)
10g Instant yeast (2%)
300g Water (water 1#) (60%)
40g Olive Oil (20%)
10g Salt (2%)
125g Water (water #2 )(25%)

Additional flour for dusting the top of the ciabatta
Additional water - helps with dough sticking.

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the flour, yeast, water,
olive oil, salt mix on low speed for 45 seconds.
2. With the mixer running, add the second amount of water in a slow stream.
3. Increase the speed to medium (speed 4) and mix for 2 more minutes.

4. Using the bowl scraper, transfer the dough to the oiled bowl or a rectangle shaped plastic tub and cover. Set a timer for 30 minutes.

5 After 30 minutes uncover the dough and wet your finger (adding water is better then adding more flour) grasp the dough at the top of the bowl and stretch it out about six inches. and fold it over it self.
Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and stretch again. Continue with all four sides of the bowl. After the last fold, turn the dough over. The smooth side will be facing up. Cover.
By the way, there are some excellent plastic bowl covers made by Covermate. The plastic is BPA free and they can be reused. I find mine at BigLots but Amazon has them too.
Here is the link: They are great for yeast dough.

6. Set the timer for another 30 minutes. Repeat two more times.
7. After the last fold, cover the dough and let it sit for 20 minutes.
8. Using the bowl scraper, carefully loosen the sides of the dough and unmold the dough onto the prepared sheet tray.
9. If making the larger batch, dip the bowl scraper in flour and using a rocking motion cut the dough in two. Gently make space between the two pieces of dough. Dust each with flour.

10. Place the rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
11. Let the oven preheat for 15 minutes.
12. Spray the ciabatta with a light mist of water and put it into the oven.
13. At 25 minutes, check for color and double pan.
14. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake for 12-15 more minutes. The internal temperature should be at 210 - slightly higher is ok and when picked up (with oven mitts or dry towel) the ciabatta should feel very light. If it feels heavy put it back in the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes.
If it is getting too dark, reduce the oven temperature. One of the most challenging things about ciabatta is baking out the excess moisture.

Hi Everyone, there is a mistake in the percentages for the olive oil - it should read 8% not 20%. Thanks to Mike for pointing that out. Because this is an older post - it is more complicated to edit then a newer one. Happy Baking! Colette

Mascarpone Pound Cake

Hello Bakers,

   Last week one of my Craftsy students asked me if I had a Mascarpone pound cake recipe.
I felt bad because I thought I had one but could not find it anywhere. So, I bregan poking around the internet and in my library and came up empty handed.
I really don't like disappointing you so I decided to adapt a cream cheese pound cake from
way back when and see what happened.
   I chose a cream cheese pound cake from Gourmet's Best Desserts published in 1988.
This was one of the first cookbooks I received when I joined, The Good Cook Cookbook
Club. One of the perks of the club was that you got your first four books for a dollar each!
Every month after that, a little catalog of cookbooks came in the mail. All you had to do was to buy two books a year and keep up with the form that said you didn't want any books that month.
That's where I got into trouble.
  At this time was very busy running my B&B  and my restaurant. I had a husband, who ran the business with me and a baby who was the most adorable baby in the history of babies, at least I thought so.
So the books kept coming, because I ordered them or had forgotten to mail out the form.
    Eventually I had to quit the club. I sent them a sad but truthful letter telling them
that my husband had threatened to divorce me if I didn't leave the club. The bookshelf in the kitchen was bursting with books.
Incidentally, one of the first things I did when,years later, that marriage ended was to rejoin The Good Cook cookbook club. :)
    Gourmet's Best Desserts is a gem. The photographs may feel a little dated but they
really bring back memories of that wonderful magazine.
Sorry, nobody did it better then Gourmet.
   Here is Mascarpone pound cake - a little revamped and totally delicious. The mascarpone affects
the crumb directly, giving it a silken texture.

   Enough chat - here is the low down on Mascarpone. It has almost as much fat as butter, 70-75%.
When it is being mixed, it has a tendency to break, the water in the cheese separates out. When this happens, it is a mess. Maybe some of you have had this experience when making Tiramisu.
Because of this I am adding the mascarpone alternatively with the flour. This will give the fat in the cheese lots of insulation and it won't break.
   I hope you enjoy making this pound cake. I swirled mine with streusel so that I could send it to work with my current husband, who loves to have cake for breakfast.
Happy Baking!

Mascarpone Pound Cake

1 loaf pan or 1 small Bundt pan - greased, line the loaf pan with a parchment paper sling
Stand Mixer or hand held mixer fitted with paddle attachment
Offset spatula
Parchment paper if using loaf pan

8 ounces (227g) butter
8.75 ounces (248g) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
4 eggs, lightly mixed
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
8 ounces (227g) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional: Streusel or Jam
Streusel recipe is at the bottom of the page.

1. Preheat your oven to 350 conventional, 325 convection.
2.  Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes.
3. Add the eggs in two increments, mixing for 20 seconds at low speed and then 25 seconds at medium high speed. Add then second increment of egg and repeat mixing sequence.

4. Starting with one third of the flour, alternate adding the flour and the cheese to creamed mixture,
Mixing only until the ingredient disappears. After the last batch of flour is in. Finish mixing with a spatula.
5. Spoon batter evenly in the pan. If you want to do a swirl of streusel or jam, spoon in half, top with your streusel or layer of jam and then the remaining batter.
6. Bake at 350 degrees or 325 convection. Start checking in 40 minutes. A cake tester or skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.
(Mine took 53 minutes in my Wolf Counter top Convection oven.)
7. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then un mold onto a wire rack.
Dust with powdered sugar.

Bowl Scraper

4 ounces (113g) flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.4 ounces (40g)  brown sugar
1 ounce (28g) granulated sugar
3 ounces (85g) cold butter

1. Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl.
2. Cut in butter until it looks like coarse meal - the butter chunks must all disappear.
3. At the end you can mix with your hands - but the mixture should not clump up or be mixed to the point that the butter melts.
Leftover streusel freezes very well.