Since I turned vegan we have been having less butter, less fats. It just seemed a natural transition – I stopped making as many cookies, cakes and buttery breads as I did earlier. This also resulted in a temporary phase when I looked a lot slimmer to everybody in general except the daughter. And then, Navratri came along and proved that it was all a mirage. I am back to my ‘durust tandurust’ (hale and hearty) phase, and I know that this phase is always the long lasting one! Meanwhile the ‘off butter’ phase became a bit of a bore – so I decided to indulge myself a bit – that explains the dhingri badaami and the ‘rich’ posts that will follow.
Coming back to buttery topic, the brioche pronounced as ‘bree-oshe’, is argued to originate from France or Rome, but my own experience with the amount of butter that went in and the kneading technique brought the dough closer home – it is exactly like the authentic Punjabi bhatura dough – filled with butter rather than oil, so much that your finger should sink in if you poke the dough slightly.
The resemblance ends there – while the rich brioche dough is baked in a double row, the bhatura dough is deep fried making it even richer. Like its Asian cousin, the brioche too is light, and you could very well use the dough for a ‘not so rich’ tart like Susan of Wild Yeast. Another reason – the real reason – why it took me so long to make these breads was that I did not have the fluted brioche moulds.
After that long introduction into the how and why of me eventually making a brioche, here are the major changes the bread went through; The butter was replaced by vegan butter, and the eggs by silken firm tofu beaten like crazy alongwith soymilk.
Note: As you incorporate the butter into the assembled dough you might find it becoming extremely sticky and doubt whether it is too much, but keep on and do not add extra flour. After ten minutes of kneading the butter in, the dough will become smooth and elastic.
Recipe: Brioche (Vegan)
(Adapted from ‘Classic Essential Bread and Buns’)
Active dry yeast – 1 tsp.
Soymilk – 1/4 + 1/4 cups – warmed
Silken Firm Tofu – I just scooped out about 4 heaped tbsps.
Caster sugar – 1+1/2 tbsps.
Maida / Refined flour – 2 cups
Salt – 1/2 tsp.
Vegan butter spread at room temp. – Approx. 90g.
Mix yeast with 1/4 cup lukewarm soymilk and leave till frothy.
Sieve the salt and flour together. Stir in the caster sugar.
Buzz the tofu with extra soymilk till silky smooth.
Make a well in the flour. Add the tofu mixture, and the yeast mixture and bring together into a loosely assembled dough.
Tip on to a floured working surface and knead well. Incorporate small amounts of the butter in portions and keep kneading. This makes the dough very sticky. You might feel like adding flour but do not. Just keep at it till forms a smooth soft elastic dough.
Place it in a greased bowl till almost double. Mine took nearly 2 hours to raise.
Meanwhile grease your brioche moulds, or the loaf tin. I was able to make 14 tiny ones. The average yield if you make enough in 2″ fluted moulds should be ten, but I baked this for the short break, and wanted tiny ones, which is why the base is not very much grooved.
Punch down the risen dough and shape them as shown in the pictures. If you are a Tamilian, the shape is sure to remind you of ‘Tanjavoor Tala Aati Bommai‘ (Special Tanjore Dolls) similar to Noddy’s ‘Wobbly Man‘
Pick small pieces of the dough and make round lumps big enough to fit the base well. Pick smaller pieces of the dough and make small spheres to rest on top of the lower sphere. Pass a greased wooden skewer or shashlik stick down the centre of the top sphere to join it with the lower sphere, and remove the skewer. Do not pass it completely down to the lower sphere. This secures the two spheres.
Brush them with a warm glaze of 2 tbsp. soymilk with 1 tbsp of sugar, and leave to raise for about an hour till well risen. They do not double in volume but puff a little.
Preheat oven to 220 deg. Cel., and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or till well browned. I usually bake in the lower rack for 20 minutes and then transfer to the top rack and bake for another 10 minutes. The time taken depends on the oven. Rotate in between to avoid burns.
Turn out on a wire rack and cool.
It was a happy pleasurable bread baking experience, and this one is going to be repeated very soon for a whole wheat tria. I also managed to save a small amount of dough to try Susan’s tart with some other fruit.