In my family, we are known to indulge on breakfast once in a while. My grandfather was a man who enjoyed food. He liked to eat and he liked those around him to eat well. Because in the bakery work started around 4am, by the time doors opened around 9am and us children would go in, there were always eggs cooking, cheese, anchovies and so on. Worked stopped for a few minutes to enjoy a big breakfast in peace with a little cafe con leche and maybe a quick glance at the morning newspaper. I also clearly remember Christmas morning with cream cake and champagne. So big and sweet breakfasts are a tradition I have inherited.
During this last trip home, we drove all the way to San Sebastian partly to visit Galparsoro Okindegia. This little bakery located in the Parte Vieja (Old Town) has quickly become the most popular bread bakery in the Basque Country, supplying bread to all the Michelin Star restaurants such as Mugaritz, Martin Berasategui and more. They are known for their organic bread, but it was the brioche that stole my heart. It was buttery, tender, pulled away like a feather. Unreal.
It is moments like these when I am really inspired to create a dessert. I immediately thought of tostadas de pan (pain perdu or French Toast) with cinnamon and vanilla and paired with a burnt milk ice cream. This might sound like an unusual ice cream but it really represents very well the smells of a pastry kitchen. Slightly burnt and caramelized milk. It is unforgettable.
I have made brioche many times before and it is a favorite in my household. I have found that although most recipes tend to have the same ratio of ingredients, the procedures are often times different and in some cases elaborate. I am always intrigued by technique, so I set out to try a new recipe for brioche that I had not tried before. This time out of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “The Bread Bible”.
The burnt milk ice cream is very light and it never really thickened much in the ice cream machine but once frozen, it was very, very silky. I suppose it resembles more a gelato than an ice cream since it contains mostly whole milk and just a small amount of heavy cream.
adapted from “The Bread Bible”
This dough takes between 24 and 48 hours to complete so have this in mind before starting. You will need a baking pan that is about 8″x4″.
30 grams water, at room temperature
13 grams sugar
1/4 tsp instant yeast
70 grams unbleached all purpose flour
1 large egg
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip this mixture with a whisk by hand for about 3 minutes until a thick batter forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap while getting the following ingredients ready.
155 grams unbleached all purpose flour
25 grams sugar
4 grams instant yeast
3 grams salt
2 large eggs, cold
113 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature (very soft)
In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and instant yeast. Add the salt and mix. Sprinkle this flour mixture on top of the dough starter that is already in the mixer bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let this ferment at room temperature for about 1 1/2-2 hours. The dough starter might bubble in between the flour mixture and this is fine.
After this period of fermentation, transfer the bowl to the mixer. Add the 2 cold eggs and mix the dough with the dough hook for a couple of minutes in low speed until ingredients are well combined. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix in medium to high speed for another 5 minutes until dough is silky.
Add the soft butter one tablespoon at a time and wait until the butter has been absorbed by the dough before adding the next tablespoon. The dough will be very sticky but don’t add any flour.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl that has been slightly greased. Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment at room temperature for another 1 1/2-2 hours.
After this time, refrigerate the dough for an hour. Deflate the dough with a spatula and mix slightly. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for another hour.
Remove bowl from refrigerator and transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Deflate the dough with your hands and form a rectangle. The size of the rectangle doesn’t really matter. Give it a letter fold. Turn the dough 90 degrees and give it another letter fold. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and insert it in a large freezer bag. Refrigerate the dough for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days.
Remove dough from refrigerator. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and form a rectangle that is about 8″x5″. Roll the dough forming a log. Seal the ends tightly with the palms of your hands. Place the dough in a lightly greased rectangular mold (8″x4″) seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment for another 2 hours at room temperature.
Have the oven preheated to 350F for about 30 minutes prior to baking the brioche. When dough has doubled in size and has reached the top of the mold, brush with an egg glaze made with yolk and heavy cream. Cut the top of the dough with a sharp knife leaving about an inch on each side.
Bake in the preheated oven in a lower rack for approximately 35 minutes.
Burnt Milk Ice Cream
adapted from “Frozen Desserts”
900 grams whole milk
70 grams heavy cream
160 grams sugar
70 grams egg yolks
In a pan with tall sides, heat the whole milk with a quarter of the sugar in medium to high heat. The milk will start to stick to the bottom of the pan and may bubble up. This is fine and will give the milk its distinct flavor. If the milk starts to bubble over the pan, remove from heat and let the bubbles deflate. When it starts to smell like burnt milk, remove from heat and measure out 750 grams of the liquid.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the yolks, remaining sugar and heavy cream. Temper the hot milk into the base and whisk. Transfer the custard to a medium size pan and cook to 82C. Because there is not as much fat as in a creme anglaise, the custard will never really thicken or achieve the “nappe” so go by temperature.
Strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and chill in an ice bath. Refrigerate overnight and churn in ice cream machine.