brioche not working

posted: Sat, Jun 17, 2023 | tagged: | | bread
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warning! failed bread attempt ahead

Update: The 4th attempt worked. A few days later we threw together another dough, and during the 2nd rise we let the shaped dough sit for 8-10 hours. Result following the bake? A much more airy and flavorful slice of brioche!

Grrrr, it's not quite working. This is my third attempt at a brioche following a specific recipe I found in a book. The first two attempts were obvious errors. In attempt #1, the yeast was too old and I didn't get much of a rise during the second rise period following shaping and folding.

The second attempt was doomed to fail as I mistakingly used active dry yeast without activating it first. So the odds of any sort of rise were doomed before I even started. That was a rather careless mistake on my part.

So let's move on to attempt number three, today. I'm using instant yeast, which requires no activation and it is fresh-ish (translation: not expired). The dough felt good as it came together well during the initial mix. The first 20 minute rest was fine, and following the kneading the dough continued to feel right. Smooth, consistent and appropriately pliable. Following the initial 2 hour rest, we divided and shaped. Now here we are. The recipe calls for a 2 hour rest for the second rest, and I'm at 2.5 hours. Oh and by the way, the kitchen was quite a bit warmer today which should help promote the rise. During the last attempt the temps were in the 60's, today upper 70's at around 78 degrees.

Failed brioche attempt

The recipe suggests that following 2 hours of this rest phase, the dough should be light, airy and mushrooming over the top of the container. Mushrooming... I'm not seeing any mushrooming. I'm not really seeing any significant rise.

At the 3 hour mark, I decided to give the loaves the dash treatment. Into a warm car sitting on the dash for a good 30+ minutes to see if this further aids in a rise.

After 3 hour 45 minute mark, I pulled the loaves off the dash. The loaves had nearly doubled in size, but hadn't hit the point where they experienced any sort of mushrooming or spillage over the top of the loaf pan. A quick egg wash, and into the oven at 375 they go for 30-40 minutes.

At least if this doesn't quite work out, I know it will still taste good.

Brioche bread - picture 2

The bake completed at about 35 minutes. The kitchen smells amazing. The brioche, well it still tastes good. But it did not turn out as hoped (or at this point hyped???).

what might be going wrong

So my preliminary thought with attempt number 3 going awry is that the recipe calls for cold milk and eggs straight from the fridge. From my reading I understand that cold temperatures tends to retard the work that yeast does when it goes to town on the sugars in the flour. So it is possible that I just need to further extend this second rise period. But after nearly doubling the second rise time, I hadn't reached the mark.

It is entirely possible to overproof the dough. And given my lack of experience with brioche, and the very evdent lack of appropriate rise, I'm really not sure at what point I'll hit that mark.

Another possibility may be that a proofing temperature controlled proofing basket may be helpful. I've baked a lot of bread that has turned out fine without one, so I'm a bit hesitant to go that route.

But I also feel it is time to try a different technique. I believe the saying is 3 strikes and you are out. So for this recipe, should this not work again (all evidence is leading that way) then this will be strike 3. Ironically, even with the first two failed attempts, the brioche did taste good. It was just a bit dry and dense rather than light and airy, as brioche typically is.

I've seen other brioche recipes call for an overnight rise in the fridge. This also aids in the formation of flavor through the dough. So a technique including an overnight rise may be in order.

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