Brioche Feuilletée

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Yield:

    2

    braided loaves, approximately 14 oz each

Appears in

If There is Magic Connected to baked goods, without a doubt some portion of it lives in Brioche Feuilletée. Here is a product that is unparalleled in lightness and suffused with the enticing aroma of butter and roasted hazelnuts. To make it, brioche dough—already quite rich in butter—is treated as if it were puff pastry: more butter is added and the dough is rolled out and folded (laminated). Once lamination is complete, the dough is filled, braided, proofed, and baked. Although it is fairly labor-intensive to make, Brioche Feuilletée is such a delicious product that it will undoubtedly rate the highest superlatives and hopefully find a well-deserved place of honor in your baking repertoire.

Ingredients

Dough

U.S. Metric Home
Brioche Dough 1 lb, 5.2 oz 600 g
Unsalted Butter 4.2 oz 120 g

Filling

Hazelnuts, Roasted 2.5 oz 70 g ½ cup
Egg Whites .67 oz 19 g 1 T plus 1 tsp
Sugar Syrup 1.2 oz 34 g 2 T plus 1 tsp
Notes: To make the sugar syrup, bring equal weights of water and sugar to the boil in a small saucepan. For a slightly sweeter brioche feuilletée, all sugar syrup can be used; all egg whites can be used for a less-sweet brioche feuilletée. In a production setting, food cost can be slightly reduced by replacing up to 25% of the hazelnuts with baked puff pastry trimmings that have been ground with the nuts.

Method

  1. Laminating the Brioche: Divide the cold brioche into 2 pieces weighing 10.6 ounces (300 g) each. Shape into squares about 6 by 6 inches. Refrigerate while preparing the roll-in butter. Weigh out 2 pieces of cold butter at 2.1 ounces (60 g) each. With a rolling pin, pound each piece into a flat square about 4½ by 4½ inches. When finished, the butter should be cold but pliable. Press a finger into it—the butter should not be brittle, or it will break into shards in the dough and adversely affect the quality of the lamination.

    Remove the dough from refrigeration and place onto the work surface. Place the butter on top of the dough in an offset manner so that the 4 points of the butter are midway between the 4 points of the dough (iIllustration A). Now enclose the butter by bringing the 4 points of the dough in towards the center. Seam them well so no butter is visible. This step is known as the lock-in (illustration B). Lightly flour the work surface and the top of the brioche. With a rolling pin, gently tap the brioche evenly across its length and begin to elongate it. Now, with a little more vigor, roll the dough out until it is approximately 16 by 5 inches (illustration C). Brush off any dusting flour, and bring the narrow ends of the dough in to meet each other. Now fold the dough in half (illustrations D and E). What began at the lock-in as 3 layers—dough, butter, and dough—has now become 12 layers. However, there are 3 places where dough is touching dough, and these layers will eventually merge. We therefore have 9 layers of dough and butter after the first rolling. Repeat this lock-in and folding with the other pieces of dough and butter. The brioche has just received what is known as a double-fold (also called a four-fold or a full-book turn). Wrap the brioche pieces individually and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to relax the dough. Refer to the illustrations for a visual guide to this process.

    Remove the dough from refrigeration. Flour the work surface and the top of the dough. Notice that there are 3 open ends and 1 closed end (the spine of the book so to speak). Roll the dough out in the direction of the 2 open ends until it is approximately 15 by 5 inches. Brush off any dusting flour. As if you were folding a letter in thirds, fold one of the narrow ends halfway over towards the other end, then fold the other end on top of the first folded portion (illustrations F and G). This is known as a single-fold (also called a three-fold or half-book turn). Now the initial 9 layers of dough and butter have been tripled. But since there are two places where dough touches dough, these will eventually merge, so rather than 27 layers of dough and butter, we have 25 layers after this second rolling. Repeat with the other dough piece, wrap both, and refrigerate for an hour to relax.

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  2. Making the Hazelnut Filling: Grind the roasted hazelnuts in a food processor until they are pulverized to very small pieces but not oily. Transfer the nuts to a bowl, add the egg whites and sugar syrup, and mix until combined. The mixture will be fairly fluid but will gradually become stiffer as the nuts absorb the liquids. Just before piping the filling onto the dough, check the consistency and add more of the whites or syrup, if necessary, to obtain a piping-friendly consistency.
  3. Filling and Braiding the Dough: Remove the brioche from refrigeration. Roll on a lightly floured surface to a flat square, about 10 by 10 inches. Cut the dough crosswise into 3 even strips, each about inches wide (illustration H). Lightly egg wash the nearest long edge of each piece. When it has become slightly tacky, pipe on the hazelnut filling in an even bead, along the opposite edge of the dough (illustration I). (You may have a small amount of filling left over after piping. This can be frozen, or used as a filling for small brioche empanadas with sliced fruit.) Once the filling has been piped onto all 3 pieces, roll each piece to enclose the filling. With the seams down, make a three-strand braid. Place the braid into a buttered 8- by 4-inch loaf pan (illustrations J through M). Repeat the process of egg washing, filling, rolling, braiding, and panning with the second piece of dough.

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  4. Proofing and Baking: The Brioche Feuilletée can be refrigerated overnight, covered with a sheet of plastic to prevent crusting of the surface, or it can be proofed and baked as soon as the braids have been formed. I prefer the former method, simply because laminating and finishing the dough is fairly time-consuming, and in my baking life it has been advantageous to do all that work a day before baking. Next morning, the loaves go right into the proof box and are baked and ready for sale early in the day. Whichever method one chooses, proof the brioche until risen and light. With cold dough, this will take 2 hours or more at 80°F. Loaves that proof right after braiding will take less time, roughly 1½ hours. When well risen, egg wash the braids and bake at 380°F for about 36 minutes, to a deep golden hue. Remove the braids from the pans and brush them with hot apricot glaze (apple jelly is a good substitute if apricot is unavailable). A final finish, if desired, is a drizzle of baker’s fondant onto the tops of the braids.

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