Stacey and I with Joanne Change

I am really excited to have a new Guest Blogger.  It has been quite some time.  I met Stacey a little less than a year ago through our mutual friend, Kathryn, and immediately we connected on many levels… mostly food, restaurants, wine and travel – all the good stuff :).  No sooner had we met than I started to hear rumors about her fabulous culinary skills and then I got the chance to experience them for myself.  I concur with our friends… she is genius in the kitchen.

Since then we have dined at a number of restaurants, we actually ran the Tufts 10K together (slowly), we went to the launch of Joanne Chang’s new book, and the theme of Stacey’s Blog, and have talked about doing a number of other things that of course involve food, dining and wine.  Although, our latest discussion is around (re)learning French!  Who knows, we could learn French, go to France and eat food and drink wine.  Stranger things have happened!

As an introduction to this day… it was fabulous!  Scones, Homemade Chicken & Dumpling Soup, wine (just a sneaky glass or two), Brioche (to die for), and ending the evening with myself, Stacey and her husband going to Marliave for dinner.  What could be more perfect!  Tracey

Brioche, my love affair with the Flour Cookbook: 

I was asked if I would be a guest blogger and since I’ve never done it before, I didn’t want to do my first one alone, so I requested Tracey (who asked me in the first place, so seemed appropriate) to assist me/hold my hand through it.One thing I knew, I wanted to blog about cooking, since I really really love to cook; for others, for myself, co-workers, whomever.  For the last couple of months, I’ve been baking like crazy from the recently released cookbook, Flour, by Joanne Chang, who’s an amazing chef here in Boston with three bakeries and a restaurant. Ever since New Year’s, I have been trying out a new recipe pretty much every weekend and so far, there hasn’t been one that’s been a fail. I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone.I thought for the blog, I would stretch myself a bit and make brioche, and of course it had to be chocolate.  I began the night before by prepping the dough, which needs to rest overnight. I was amazed at how much butter there was for this thing (almost 3 sticks), yikes!  I was also surprised at how much beating was necessary to make this dough come together (on and off for almost 30 minutes) and it made me wonder how the heck people did this before they had standing mixers?  Cue a film clip from Julia Child…after quite a bit of mixing (thank you standing mixer), while I stood by and watched, I put the dough to bed in the fridge for the night. I then went on to make a lovely pastry cream, which also went into the fridge overnight.The next day, Tracey came over to act as sous chef and support for my first effort. She arrived, was plied with coffee, some chicken soup and dumplings to alleviate her cold, and for dessert, some Oatmeal-Maple Scones I had whipped up that morning (which were amazing by the way, thank you Flour cookbook).After eating ourselves into a coma, we pulled the dough out of the fridge, realized it was way too stiff to roll out, so we let it sit out, settled on the couch with some wine, and chatted until it had become easier to handle. We rolled it out to a 20” x 10” rectangle and yes, I did measure it with a tape measure ‘cause I’m just that anal…but it didn’t actually help, which you’ll see in the end (and please, don’t look at my double chin, which I guess I’ve just guaranteed you will.)

I then spread the pastry cream I had made the night before on the lower half of the dough and sprinkled it generously with chopped chocolate. I folded the dough in half with some effort (it had defrosted enough to stick to the counter, but the bench scraper saved the day).  I cut the dough into sections and placed them on a cookie sheet to rise for two hours, at which point, we sat down with more wine and chatted, boy this blogging/baking thing is definitely fun!

After eating ourselves into a coma, we pulled the dough out of the fridge, realized it was way too stiff to roll out, so we let it sit out, settled on the couch with some wine, and chatted until it had become easier to handle. We rolled it out to a 20” x 10” rectangle and yes, I did measure it with a tape measure ‘cause I’m just that anal…but it didn’t actually help, which you’ll see in the end (and please, don’t look at my double chin, which I guess I’ve just guaranteed you will.)

I then spread the pastry cream I had made the night before on the lower half of the dough and sprinkled it generously with chopped chocolate. I folded the dough in half with some effort (it had defrosted enough to stick to the counter, but the bench scraper saved the day).  I cut the dough into sections and placed them on a cookie sheet to rise for two hours, at which point, we sat down with more wine and chatted, boy this blogging/baking thing is definitely fun!

The brioche got nice and puffy during the rise, almost too puffy actually, at which point I wondered if I had maybe not rolled it out thin enough, since they blew up and fell over. I used the convection setting on my oven and put them in for 20 minutes (the recipe had said 35-40) and 16 minutes later, they were puffy and brown. We pulled them out, stuck them on a rack for a bit to cool, but didn’t wait long before we had to sample and they were great! We took the prettiest one and compared to the photo in the book and they were spot-on.

Preparing the dough

Oatmeal-Maple Scones

 

Rolling the Dough

 

Puffy Brioche

Absolutely perfect – and the taste!!!
A little slice of butter, vanilla cream
and chocolate heaven!

 

Tracey