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Brioche in a Pot

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Makes 3 small flower pots of bread (please use new flower pots that have been seasoned: Preheat oven to 375, smear vegetable shortening or butter over the insides of the pots, bake for 10 minutes, repeat twice)

The Sponge

  • 1/3 cup warm whole milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  1. Put the milk, yeast, egg, and 1 cup of the flour into the bowl of a heavy duty mixer.  Mix the ingredients together with a rubber spatula, mixing just until everything is blended.  Sprinkle the remaining cup of flour to cover the sponge but do not stir it in.
  2. Rest:  Set the sponge aside to rest uncovered for 30-45 minutes.  After this time, the flour coating will crack, your indication that everything is moving along properly.

The dough

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

The glaze

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  1. Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge.  Set the bowl in 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 ½ cup more flour.  When the flour is incorporated, increase the mixture 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 tablespoons more flour.  Continue to beat, giving the dough a full 15 minutes in the mixer- don’t skimp on the time; this is what will give the brioche its distinctive texture.
  2. 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, but carry on.  When all of the butter has been added, raise the mixer speed to medium- high for a minute and then drop it down to medium and beat for about 5 minutes.  Clean the sides of the bowl frequently as you work; if it looks as though the dough is not coming together after 2-3 minutes, add up to 1 tablespoon more flour.  When you’re finished, the dough should feel somewhat cool.  It will be soft and sticky and may cling slightly to the sides of the bowl.

First rise

  1. Transfer dough into a large buttered bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature for 2 to 2 ½ hours.

Second rise

  1. Deflate the dough and then let rise covered for another 3-4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  2. Take dough out of fridge for an hour before baking.

Shaping and baking the dough

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Punch dough down and separate into three mounds.  Dust the bottom of each mound with flour and then put them into the flower pots.
  2. Combine the egg white with the sugar and brush onto the tops of each loaf.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, making sure that the tops don’t brown too quickly – wrap tops with tin foil if they do.

Alison Wonderland Tucker

 

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