Working with yeast has never been one of my favorite things. Recently I’ve noticed that I’m not alone either. I’ve been reading other blogs and there is a group out there that would rather avoid using it. Makes sense. Yeast is a tricky ingredient and you need a very specific environment for it to work well. Their activity and therefore the texture and flavor of the product is affected by temperature, food, water, and time.
After the Daring Bakers made me make this stollen and this meringue coffee cake, I think I became more comfortable with it. As long as I can get it to rise, I’m usually pretty happy with the outcome. I also learned a trick that helps yeast rise during the dry winter: Place a pan of boiling water in a turned off oven and you have an instant proof box!
Anyways…on with the recipe. Last week, I made a loaf of brioche for my brother in law’s birthday. Brioche is a highly enriched french bread with a high content of eggs and butter. It’s a great dough for making french toast or cinnamon rolls. I had not made brioche dough since culinary school. I think the stand mixer almost broke but the dough came out wonderful. The recipe made way more then I needed so I decided to use the left over dough for the cinnamon rolls that S had requested a while ago.
I used the brioche recipe below to make one 9 by 5 inch loaf and then later cinnamon rolls (about 15 medium rolls). I used roughly half of the dough for each. Since I am not sure what happens when you try to make only half a recipe of dough, I’ve left it as is. So you can either make a double batch of cinnamon rolls or save the dough for another use. Raw brioche dough can be refrigerated for two days or frozen for up to a week.
Recipe (makes about 15 rolls)
Half batch of brioche dough (recipe below)
2 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbs butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese
3 Tbs milk
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll out the brioche dough on a floured surface (preferably a cool surface) into a 15 by 11 inch rectangle to 1/4 inch thickness. Spread the butter over the dough leaving a 1/2 inch border. Spread the cinnamon sugar evenly over the butter. Roll the dough lengthwise. With the seam side down, cut the dough at 1 inch intervals. (I used dental floss to get nice clean cuts)
Place the rolls on a baking sheet. Try to tuck the roll tails under each roll. Cover them with plastic and a kitchen towel. Let them rise until doubled. Bake at 350°F until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to cool.
Combine the cream cheese, milk and sugar in an electric mixer and whisk until smooth. Drizzle or pipe over the rolls.
For the brioche dough (full batch!) Recipe from French Culinary Institute
50 mL water
30g fresh yeast
3 3/4 cup bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 Tbs cold butter
Temper your butter by wrapping it in plastic and patting it down with a rolling pin. You want it soft and cold but not melted. Store it in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest.
Add the water, eggs, flour, and yeast together in an electric mixer. Mix on a low speed for 1-2 minutes and then and the sugar and mix for another minute. Add the salt and mix for another two minutes. Increase the speed and mix until the dough becomes stretchy.
Gradually add in the cold tempered butter. Work the dough until it is smooth and satiny. Be sure to scrape the dough off the sides and paddle during mixing. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and let it rise for 1 hour. Punch it down into a ball, wrap in plastic tightly and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least four hours. You may want to double wrap it and put it in a bowl in case it expands out of the plastic.