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Brioche Feuillete 13 10 13 (51)bWhen I first got my iPad, I became addicted for a while to a game called Cruel Jewels. It was very amusing the way a kind of posh butler would comment with increasing excitement on how well you were doing. A good move might earn a “Delightful!”, a better one a more enthusiastic “Splendid!”, but if you had done particularly well he would work himself up to an almost hysterical “Absurd! Preposterous!! INCONCEIVABLE!!!”

I fear that some people might view this Brioche Feuilletée recipe in the same light. For it takes a dough that is already very rich, packed as it is with eggs and butter, and adds yet more butter in the form of a croissant-style lamination. The dough is then wrapped around a rich nutty filling, and finally the loaf is glazed with apricot jam, drizzled with icing and sprinkled with more nuts.

Absurd it may be, but it is so good! It is light as a feather and richly flavoured with a heavenly fragrance.

Perhaps you’ll need to be a little crazy to even think of making it. You’ll certainly need to be dedicated. Whether you’ll follow me down this road depends I think on how you view your priorities in baking. If you are in what I might call the bake-to-eat school – that is your prime focus is on getting something on the table, you use your mixer whenever possible, you wouldn’t dream of making brioche or puff pastry, let alone effectively combining the two in one recipe – then perhaps you’d better move on, or maybe just drool over the photographs. If however you are in the bake-to-bake school – you love the processes of baking, prefer doing things by hand, your stand mixer is rusting in the cupboard – then maybe this recipe is for you.

Brioche Feuilletée

Hazelnut Brioche FeuilleteeFor the detailed recipe I refer you to Jeffrey Hamelman’s excellent book, “Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes”. I will focus below on my adaptions, and make some suggestions based on my experience of making it. My main changes were to simplify the method somewhat, and I also changed the hazelnut filling a little and devised my own pistachio one.

Ingredients

Makes 2 loaves

For the Laminated Dough

  • 600g prepared brioche dough (see below)
  • 120g cold unsalted butter

For the Hazelnut Filling

Enough for 1 loaf

  • 35g roasted hazelnuts
  • 10g vanilla caster sugar
  • 10g egg white
  • 5ml hazelnut liqueur (I used Fratello)
  • 5ml water

For the Pistachio Filling

Enough for 1 loaf

  • 35g pistachios
  • 10g vanilla caster sugar
  • 10g egg white
  • 5ml lime juice
  • 5ml water

To Decorate

  • Apricot jam
  • 50g icing sugar
  • A dash of lime juice
  • Chopped pistachios and/or hazelnuts
  • 2 20x10cm loaf tins (see note)

Method

Make your Brioche dough the night before so it can rest in the fridge overnight. I used Richard Bertinet’s recipe, from “Crust”. I let it rise for 2 hours at room temperature, folded it and reshaped it into a ball, then let it rise for another hour before refrigerating overnight.

Remove the dough from the fridge about 30 minutes before starting work.

Now make the fillings as they need to sit for an hour or so. Grind the nuts with the sugar in a food processor or coffee grinder to a sandy texture, then mix with the other ingredients in a small bowl.

If you only want to make one kind of loaf, simply double up the filling quantities.

Butter the loaf tins and line the base with baking parchment.

Divide the brioche dough into two 300g pieces and laminate each with 60g butter as if making croissants. After encasing the butter in the dough give it two “turns”; the first a “book turn” and the second a simple triple fold. Rest the dough in the fridge after each turn.

Brioche Feuillete 13 10 13 (7)bAfter its final rest in the fridge, roll each piece into a 25 x 25cm square and cut into three long strips. Brush the bottom edge with egg wash and leave to go tacky.

Spread the filling carefully along the top of each strip, roll up like a sausage roll and press to seal. It pays to touch the top edge down about 1.5cm clear of the bottom edge so as to be sure of enclosing the filling securely.

With their seams facing down, plait the three rolls together, pinching together at each end.

Brioche Feuillete 13 10 13 (8)aPlace in the tin, tucking the ends under slightly. Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan).

Brush the tops of the loaves carefully with egg wash. Bake for 35 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes then carefully turn out and cool on a wire rack.

For the glaze, sieve 2 tablespoons of apricot jam into a small saucepan and heat with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush this over the loaves.

Mix the icing sugar with a dash of lime juice and sufficient water to make a drizzling consistency and trail this over the cake. Finish with the chopped nuts.

Notes

Pistachio brioche a tete on left, hazelnut on rightI used Richard Bertinet’s brioche recipe, from “Crust”, rather than Hamelman’s, simply because I have made it before and I really enjoy making it entirely by hand. If you are happy with Bertinet’s method of working dough you should give his brioche a try. It seems incredible, but you really can work all that butter into the sticky dough by hand. I myself wasn’t entirely convinced until I watched him do it on the video that comes with the book. If you do make it, you will discover that there is nothing so heavenly as the smell of baking brioche, or toasting brioche for that matter, and boy does it make good toast!

Like me, you may think it would be easier to laminate all the dough at once. It would be, but it would actually make later stages more difficult.

None of my loaf tins matched Hamelman’s 8×4” (20x10cm) specification. The tins I used were 9x19x5.5cm (940ml volume) for the Pistachio loaf, and 11x21x6.5cm (1501ml volume) for the Hazelnut one. Both tins worked well. They are nominally 1lb (450g) and 2lb (900g) but there is such a wide variation in tins sold under those descriptions that you can never be sure. One day I am going to write a ranting post about this…

Brioche Feuillete 13 10 13 (1)With the dough that was left after making the feuilletée I made 8 small Brioches à Tête (using roughly 65g of dough for each). To stop the individual moulds moving around in the oven I sat them in a patty tin. Interestingly, my buns don’t look nearly as neat as the ones shown in Bertinet’s book, but they did look very like the ones he makes on the video.Brioche a tete

I am submitting this post to Panissimo, a bimonthly collection of breads from around the world, run by Barbara from Pane e Companatico and Sandra from Indovina chi viene a cena? This month it is hosted by Michela from Menta e Rosmarino. My brioche doesn’t really fit the theme for this month, which is Special and Ancient Flours. But it is certainly special so I’m submitting it anyway!

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