Even botched brioche is pretty good.
For some time now, Maggie has been wanting to do a complicated baking project. Twist my arm. Originally she got it in her head that she really wanted to make puff pastry, but as it turns out, this was more because it sounded cool than because she really knew what it was. I pulled out A Passion for Chocolate, a now out-of-print book that I recently recovered from the depths of our basement. Rose “The Cake Bible” Levy Beranbaum translated this French pastry cookbook for the American kitchen, and it contains marvelous and extremely involved projects. (If you like this sort of thing, it’s definitely worth the 64 cents it’s now selling for on Amazon!) Anyway, we first looked at pain au chocolat, but I must admit that I was daunted by the prospect of making croissant dough from scratch. A good alternative seemed briochins, which were little pockets of brioche dough wrapped around bars of dark chocolate.
Brioche is a very eggy, buttery yeast dough. For the kids, I think the best part was kneading in a LOT of soft butter by hand.
Brioche has a long, slow rise, much of which happens in the refrigerator. So the dough wasn’t actually ready to form until the next morning. As I pulled the dough out of the fridge, I remembered that we added half the eggs in the first part of the mixing, but I was pretty sure that we hadn’t added the rest. I re-read the recipe and realized that indeed, we had missed a step entirely–the one in which we added another 4 eggs! (This also explained why the dough was so stiff, and probably didn’t rise very much). In a last ditch effort to salvage the project, I beat the eggs into the cold dough, an effort that was only somewhat successful. But we forged on, rolling out the dough and shaping it around the chocolate.
We formed them and left them for their final rise, and rise they did, thankfully. They puffed and browned pretty nicely in the oven, though I would say that the texture left something to be desired. Given how badly we botched the recipe, though, I’d say they came out great! And let’s face it, how bad can warm pastry filled with chocolate really be?