Sunday, March 23, 2008
When I started going to law school, Sarah was just a toddler and Elizabeth hadn't been born. My mother warned me that law school could cause me to forget to get Sarah an Easter basket. "Roberta [my sister] forgot all about Easter when she was in law school, and if it hadn't been for me, poor Tony wouldn't have had an Easter basket at all," she said. I promised her I would never forget to get my kids an Easter basket. And I never did. In fact, I kept getting them Easter baskets after they moved out of the house, although I've finally stopped now. But I almost forgot about Easter this year, what with the snow and the fact that Easter is the earliest it will ever be in my lifetime. And in your lifetime too, dear reader, even if you are much younger than I am.
But I did remember it enough to think that I should make something Easter-ish this weekend. I chose brioche. It has no Easter connotations that I know of, but it does have a lot of eggs in it, so there you go.
I chose a recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. He has three versions: Rich Man's Brioche, which takes a full pound of butter; Middle Class Brioche, which takes a half-pound; and Poor Man's Brioche, which takes only a lousy stick of butter. I chose the middle class, of course.
They all start with a sponge:
This is a very rich, buttery dough. I'm not sure why I would ever want to double the amount of butter, which seems like it would be very hard to incorporate. But maybe that's a challenge for sometime when I need to gain weight, if such a time were ever to occur. The recipe makes two brioches a tete, or a lot of petites brioches, or a couple of loaves. I decided to make one real brioche and some rolls.
While I was shaping the rolls, I thought they might be good with some raisins in them, and then I thought that they might be good with mini chocolate chips in them, and then I thought that they might not be good with either of these additions, so I made some plain, some with raisins, and some with chocolate chips.
They are cleverly marked, to identify which is which.
The unbaked brioche a tete is in my sole brioche pan. The last time I made brioche, many months ago, the tete was frighteningly askew, so this time I was determined to have it look normal.
I thought that the egg glaze would make everything look beautifully shiny, and it did add sheen, but it also looked cracked. The egg glaze in this recipe instructed me just to beat an egg and brush it on. If I'm remembering correctly, other recipes for egg glazes specify adding some water to the egg. My guess is that this thins it enough so that it's not so prone to cracking when it's baked, but it's just a guess. Whether I'll remember to do this, in order to test my theory, the next time I brush on an egg is anyone's guess.
We ate these brioche rolls for our Easter breakfast. Jim made omelets with bacon, caramelized onions, and roasted red pepper. They were quite good, and so were the rolls.
That left us with the larger brioche to eat later in the day. We tried, we really did, but couldn't quite manage. I'll do the toast-test with some of the large loaf of brioche tomorrow morning. I was pleased to see that the tete made it through the baking still looking pretty normal.
Happy Easter to my dear daughters, even though I did not make you Easter baskets this year!