After having innumerable people tell me I just had to see it, I finally watched the movie Julie & Julia last night. Well, to be more precise, I attempted to watch it, but couldn't even make it through. I know. It's about Julia Child! It's about France and cooking and writing and... how could I not like it?! In short, it was kind of inane and a little obnoxious, striking me as a feel good chick flick that happened to invoke some things I'm very much interested in. It had it's moments, the "Julia" vignettes, but it was almost Disney-esque. And I'm a cold hearted one that dislikes pretty much all (post 80's) children's movies. That said, I prefer to read Child's books and letters, watch her old PBS series, and cook my way through her recipes myself. Which is exactly what was happening as I watched (part of) the film as I had a mixing bowl full of her brioche dough resting on my kitchen counter destined for the Pecan Sticky Buns from Baking With Julie for Tuesdays With Dorie, hosted this month by Lynn of Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole of Cookies on Friday.
I'd never made brioche dough before, and around midnight yesterday evening (very last minute as I've been ill) my chartreuse KitchenAid mixer was spasmodically jerking around on my kitchen counter. I tried to talk to it, rest a hand on it's fevered head to calm it down as it beat the thick dough for almost half an hour total. Wondering about the racket, Patrick walked into the kitchen and proceeded to laugh (or should I say cackle?) at it's pitiful girations and the disconcerted look on my face. Paranoid that I hadn't added enough flour because instead of using measuring cups I used my digital scale, I ended up adding about 1/3 cup more. It seemed to be the right thing to do. I really hate cups and spoons and all their imprecision, most especially when baking. But it came together, the dough making a satisfying slapping noise against the sides. It's a very sticky dough, don't let that worry you. I say that, because at first it worried me. It finished its first rise around 1 AM after which I put it down for the night for it's second rise in the refrigerator.
After the chill, I filled them. It didn't seem to be enough filling to me, but I fought my improvisational nature and followed the recipe. Or tried to. I mistakenly left the top quarter of the dough completely bare, not even brushing it with the egg. Which means when rolled they were a bit loose at the seam. It didn't ultimately prove to be a problem. C'est la vie. Finally nestled in their luxuriant bed of butter and brown sugar, I left them to rise one last time, which they did, puffing happily. I don't have a 9" cake pan for reasons unknown to me. I'm pretty sure I had a 9" cake pan at some point in my personal history, pretty sure I had quite a few actually. But over the course of many moves and partings of ways with significant others, many objects have fallen through the cracks. For instance, I have an immersion blender and food mill in Boston.
I made do with an 8" cake pan, cutting six 1 1/2" rolls instead of seven. After 35 minutes they were puffed in a golden dome, almost brimming over. It was a very satisfying sight to behold after all the doubts and second guessing that comes with cooking something for the first time. Naturally those doubts wouldn't be fully allayed until the first bite, but after that first bite the doubts dissipated, replaced instead by gratuitous self-congratulation. They were the perfect texture, somewhere between roll and pastry, soft and warm. The topping was caramelized, the cinnamon filling nutty and sweet.
I took some round to my parents, as I'm not inclined to leave such rich food sitting around our house. I'd have to buy new clothes. And I don't have the budget for that. So you see, Mom & Dad, I had to pawn those calories off on you. Besides, I was ill on Mother's Day, so this is my belated gift of baked goods.
I'm so satisfied with this brioche dough I declare it my standard brioche, which I hope to use for many more confections both sweet and savory to come.
Again, the recipe can be found at the hosts' websites linked above, and better yet, after you peruse their sites, buy the book, which is undoubtedly an essential vertebrae in the backbone of any well-rounded baking library.