Somedays baking mirrors life. I start out to make one delicious thing, hit a frustrating brick wall, take a turn, and end up with something totally different, but also delicious.
When Peabody and Helen announced their doughnut challenge, I immediately thought of raspberry filled doughnuts. They are my all-time favorite doughnut and I'd never made them before. I looked at recipe after recipe and found the perfect one in In The Sweet Kitchen. Strawberry-Filled Brioche Doughnuts. Mmmmm. Substitute raspberry for strawberry and it sounded like doughnut perfection. Since Peabody had earlier helped me overcome my fear of brioche, I plunged into this recipe confidently.
It yielded a silky-smooth dough and I was salivating as I cut out round of brioche, spooned jam onto the rounds, and pinched them closed to form perfect little brioche jam balls, ready to rise and fry.
I covered my tray of rising dough with a towel, placed it in a gently warm oven to rise, eagerly anticipating the wonderful doughnuts they'd make. At the end of the rising time, I pulled out the tray, expecting to see puffy balls of doughnut goodness.
Heavens! What had happened? Instead of seeing contented doughnuts, ready to take a dip in the fryer, I was looking at a crime scene! CSI Kitchen, with the little dough corpses sprawled all over the pan, spewing their raspberry guts all over each other.
I may not be the sharpest knife in the block, but even I knew that to try and fry these massacre victims could only mean black smoke and curses. So I scraped the whole thing into a buttered 9x13 pan, sprinkled it with vanilla sugar, and baked it. When I took it out of the oven, the top was browned and inside was all moist, buttery, jammy goodness. I don't think frying would have improved these a bit. I was embarrassed at how quickly we gobbled up the whole pan. Since the brioche dough is made the night before, you can easily put this together for a breakfast or brunch.
It might not be what I signed up for, and I did have to make more doughnuts for the challenge (oh, darn), but these were even better than what I'd hoped for.
Raspberry Brioche Pull-Aparts
adapted from In The Sweet Kitchen
Brioche dough - makes 2 loaves or 2 pans of pull-aparts, or 1 of each
2 pkgs (about 5 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup warm (105 to 115 deg. F) whole milk
1-1/2 tsp granulated sugar, to activate yeast
5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt, preferably sea salt or kosher salt
6 Tbsp granulated sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups fresh unsalted butter, never frozen, at room temperature but not overly soft (this is a good time to pull out the really good butter!)
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 Tbsp milk, for glaze on loaves
Vanilla sugar or plain granulated sugar for dusting the pull-aparts
1- In a large bowl with a mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk. Stir in the 1-1/2 tsp of sugar and let the yeast proof for 5 to 7 minutes, until foamy and bubbling. Add 1 cup flour and the salt, beating with the paddle attachment (or with a wooden spoon, if working by hand) to make a soft, smooth batter, about 5 minutes.
2- Beat in the remaining 4-1/2 cups flour and the 6 Tbps sugar in three additions, beating in 2 eggs after each addition of flour. Mix well between additions, making sure you scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat until a smooth, soft and elastic dough is formed, about 10 minutes with the dough hook attachment, or 20 to 25 minutes by hand. Doing it by hand is great stress therapy. Slap the dough onto the counter, then with the heel of one hand push it through the middle into the counter. With the other hand, fold the far side of the blob towards you, over onto itself, and rotate the dough about 90 degrees. Repeat this pushing, folding and rotating cycle several times, then give the dough another good hard slap onto the counter. (Don't add an extra flour at this point, even if the dough feels sticky; just use a dough scraper to gather the dough off the work surface. As the dough becomes more elastic, it will lose its gumminess and become smooth.) Do a stretch test: pinch some of the dough and pull it upwards. When the dough is ready, it should feel springy and elastic.
3- If you have removed your dough from the stand mixer, return it to a clean mixer bowl. If you're preparing the dough entirely by hand, you may find the next step easier in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Knead or beat the butter into the dough in small portions, fully incorporating each addition before adding the next. This process is definitely easier with a dough hook, but it is not impossible by hand. Squeeze the first few additions of butter through the dough, kneading until it is absorbed, then use a wooden spoon to beat in the remaining additions to prevent the dough from getting greasy and slippery, a sign that the butter is melting and not getting properly incorporated. The butter should be malleable, but not overly soft, and the dough should not get too warm during this process.
4- When the last of the butter has been beatin in, continue beating the dough until it is very smooth, glossy, and elastic, about 5 minutes with the dough hook, or 10 minutes by hand. The dough should now have reached the stage where it comes aaway from the sides of the bowl in a smooth entity, or should neatly rool on the counter, no longer sticky or tacky. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly buttered bowl and cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap. Leave to rise at warm room temperature, away from any drafts (75 deg. F is perfect), until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/4 to 2 hours.
5 - Punch the dough down and lip it over, deflating it completely. The buttery side should now be facing up. Cover again with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Punch the dough down, flip it once more, cover the bowl with plastic and weigh it down with a plate (I had 3 plates on mine, to be on the safe side). You don't want the dough to escape and try to take over your refrigerator. It's a pain to clean up and a waste of good butter!
Return the bowl to the coldest part of your refrigerator and leave there overnight. If the dough is left longer than 8 hours, check periodically to make sure it has not risen above the bowl; gently punch it down as necessary. The broche dough may be frozen at this point, wrapped very securely. Allow the dough to thaw in the refrigerator for 4 to 7 hours, then proceed with the shaping, final rising and baking.
6- Several hours before you plan to bake the brioche, remove the dough from the refrigerator, punch it down and turn it out onto a very lightly floured surface. Invert the bowl over the dough and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
7 - Divide the dough in half, setting aside one half and covering it loosely with plastic wrap. This will either be a loaf or another pan of pull-aparts. Gently roll out the dough 1/2 to a rough rectangle, 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Be kind to the dough, and patient. If it seems to be resisting the rolling, don't force or stretch it, but cover it with a piece of plastic wrap and let it relax for a few minutes.
8- Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside. Using a 3 to 4 -inch round biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut the dough into rounds. Place a teaspoonful of the jam into the center of each round. Dip your finger into a little water and moisten the rim of dough around the filling, then pinch the edges together like a dumpling or a turnover to form a good seal. Place the dough rolls into the baking pan and cover it with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes.
9- Repeat the process with the other 1/2 of the dough, or make a loaf.
10 - Preheat the oven to 375 deg. F. Take the plastic off the pan and sprinkle vanilla sugar over the top of the dough rolls. Bake for about 30 minutes, or till the top is golden brown.
11- Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Warm, they are moist, gooshy, and heavenly. As they cool they will become firmer and less delicate, but still wonderful.