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Authors: Dorie Greenspan

Around My French Table (94 page)

BOOK: Around My French Table
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After 3 minutes, the whites should be set and the yolks only barely firm to the touch. Should you want the eggs slightly more cooked, leave them in the water for another 30 to 60 seconds. Using the skimmer or spatula, carefully lift the eggs out of the skillet in the order you added them. If you're holding the eggs only while you poach some more, drop them into the hot water. When you're ready for them, lift them out with the skimmer or spatula and pat the bottom of the skimmer and the top of the eggs with a paper towel to remove the excess water. If you want to hold the eggs for longer, drop them into the ice-water bath. (The eggs can be stored in cold water in the fridge for up to 2 days.) To reheat the eggs, drain them, fill the bowl with boiling water, and slip in the eggs. Warm the eggs in the water for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through. Drain and serve immediately.


If your eggs are ragged around the edges, you can use scissors to trim them before serving. Poached eggs are excellent over salads, vegetables (they're great with the Warm-Weather Vegetable Pot-au-Feu,
), or soups.


After you've cooled poached eggs in an ice-water bath, you can store them immersed in cold water in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in boiling water before serving, as described in the recipe.

Ruffly Poached Eggs

came to me from Braden Perkins of Hidden Kitchen, a supper club in Paris. This is the simplest way I know to get the kind of eggs you see served over salads; warm asparagus, leeks, or broccoli; pureed vegetables; or mashed potatoes: the kind with whites that are softly set and yolks that are almost firm on the outside and runny at the center. The bonus is that because they are cooked in a bundle of plastic wrap tied at the top with twine, they emerge from their poach with ruffles and pleats around the edges where the plastic was drawn tight. They're beautiful, and their little ridges are just the right conduits for sauce—pour any sauce or vinaigrette over the eggs, and it will drizzle most attractively down the ruffle lines.

With this recipe, you can make 1 egg or many—just make sure to use a large pan so the eggs can bob around freely. Until you get a feel for how quickly the eggs cook, I suggest you make no more than 4 at a time.

Olive oil
Very fresh large eggs, preferably organic

Put a large saucepan of water on to boil, and have a teacup and some kitchen string at hand.

For each egg, cut two pieces of plastic wrap, each large enough to wrap generously around the egg, and put one piece on top of the other. Very lightly coat the top piece of plastic with oil, then fit the double layer of wrap into the teacup. Gently crack an egg and tip it into the cup, taking care not to break the yolk. Draw up the edges of the plastic, getting as close as you can to the top of the egg, and twist to tighten the plastic. Tie a piece of string around the neck of the plastic to secure it.

Lower the heat under the saucepan, and when the water is at a very slight simmer, drop in the eggs. Don't worry—the plastic won't melt. Allow the eggs to poach for 5 to 6 minutes, then carefully lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon. If the whites don't look set, poach for a few seconds longer. The easiest way to unpack the eggs is to put them on a flat surface, snip the plastic below the string, and open the plastic. Gently lift each egg from the plastic to a plate, trying not to turn it over. (It's not a problem if it's upside down, it's just that the ruffles are prettier on the top.) Serve immediately.


The eggs can be used in the same way you'd use any poached eggs. Fine by themselves with a strip of buttered toast, they really come into their own served over warm vegetables or salads.


The eggs can be wrapped in the plastic and kept in the refrigerator for a few hours before you poach them, but once poached, they should be served immediately.

Brioche Dough

who's made brioche at home. In fact, my guess is that were I to confront the most enthusiastic French home baker I could find with the question, "Do you make brioche?" the answer would be, "No, why should I?" Why, indeed, when great brioches are available at every boulangerie and passable brioches can be found in the supermarket? The truth is, as much as I love making brioche—I'm over-the-top proud of myself every time I pull a brioche from the oven—I've never made one in France, and if I lived there full-time, my brioche-baking skills would probably get very rusty very fast.

Brioche is an egg bread, like challah, but richer. It has a slightly sweet, definitely buttery flavor, and while it's a soft bread, its crumb's got a little stretch to it—pull a bit of the bread, and it will elongate elegantly. Actually, elegant is probably the best all-around descriptor for brioche, which can be made as individual breads or family-sized loaves.

For those of us in the United States who can't find a great brioche on every corner but love the bread and the dishes that can be made with it (Bubble-Top Brioches,
, brioche loaves,
, Coupetade,
, and French toast,
, for starters), there's only one thing to do—take to our ovens.

Nothing's difficult about making brioche if you have a stand mixer, patience, and time. You could make the dough by hand—it's the way it was done for centuries, after all—but it's a workout. What you can't do is rush the rising.

Please don't skip the overnight rest—it's what gives the brioche its lovely texture.

cup warm-to-the-touch whole milk
cup warm-to-the-touch water
tablespoons sugar
teaspoons active dry yeast

cups all-purpose flour

teaspoons salt
large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Pour the warm milk and water into the bowl of a stand mixer, add a pinch of the sugar, and sprinkle over the yeast. In another bowl, mix the flour and salt together.

When all the yeast has absorbed some liquid, stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until you have a creamy mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook, add all of the flour mixture at once, and turn the mixer on and off in a few short pulses to dampen the flour. Set the mixer to medium-low speed and mix for a minute or two, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed, until you have a shaggy, fairly dry mass. At this point, what you've got won't look like a dough at all—in fact, it will be pretty ugly, but that doesn't matter.

Scrape down the bowl, turn the mixer to low, and add the beaten eggs one third at a time, beating until each addition is incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the remaining sugar, increase the mixer speed to medium, and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough starts to come together.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon chunks. I like to squeeze the butter between my fingers to soften it even more just before I toss it into the bowl. Beat for about 30 seconds, or until each piece of butter is on its way to being almost incorporated, before adding the next little chunk of butter. When all the butter is in, you'll have a dough that is very soft, really almost like a batter. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and climbs up the hook, about 10 minutes, or a little longer.

Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it at room temperature until it's nearly doubled in size; it will take at least 1 hour, maybe longer, depending on the warmth of your room.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until it stops rising as energetically, about 2 hours; "slap" it down every 30 minutes.

Press the plastic against the surface of the dough and leave it in the refrigerator to chill overnight. The dough is ready to use after its overnight rest.




You can cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can wrap it airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months. Allow the dough to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using it.

Bubble-Top Brioches

is classic, the shape is just a little different from the traditional topknot buns you find in French boulangeries and a lot easier to perfect. I created this almost-Parker-House form one day out of frustration when I'd made perfect brioche dough and what I'd thought were perfect topknot brioches. It looked like I'd done everything right. I glazed the buns and slid them into the oven. But as soon as they began to rise, the topknots tilted to the side like the beret on a cartoon character. The taste was great, and they even looked cute, but cute wasn't what I was after with this rather sophisticated dough, which was why I came up with the bubble brioche: three little balls of dough dropped into a mold or muffin tin. A cinch to do, they rise perfectly and bake into beauties.

If you'd rather have sliceable loaves, see Bonne Idée.

recipe Brioche Dough (
), chilled
large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water, for glazing

If you're lucky enough to have a dozen individual fluted brioche molds, butter those; if not, butter a 12-cup muffin tin.

Divide the chilled dough into 12 portions. Cut each portion into 3 even pieces, and roll the pieces into balls. The dough is soft and sticky, so here's the easiest way to shape them: Put a little flour on the counter and put some flour on your palms. Put a piece of dough on the counter, cup a hand over it, and roll the dough around under your cupped palm until you've got a nice ball. Using 3 pieces for each brioche, put the balls, prettiest sides up, in the molds or muffin cups.

Place a piece of wax paper on top of the brioches and put the molds or pan in a warm place. Let the brioches rise until they almost fill the cups, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of the room.

Just before the dough is fully risen, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

When the brioches have risen, remove the paper and put the molds or muffin tin on a baking sheet. Brush the bubble tops with the egg glaze—if you've got a feather brush, this is the perfect time to use it. Be gentle, so you don't deflate the dough, and be careful, so you don't dribble glaze between the dough and the sides of the mold, which would keep the brioches from puffing properly.


Brioche Loaves
. Divide the chilled dough in half. Cut each half into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3½ inches long. Butter and flour two 7½-×-3½-×-2-inch loaf pans (you can use larger pans, but the loaves won't be as high) and arrange 4 logs crosswise in each pan. Cover the pans lightly and leave them at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. When the loaves are almost risen, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush each loaf with egg wash (as in the recipe), put the pans on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the loaves are nicely risen and beautifully golden. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then unmold the loaves and allow them to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Bake the brioches for 20 to 23 minutes, or until they are well risen and deeply golden. If you think they are browning too quickly, you can cover them with a foil tent. Transfer the molds or muffin tin to a cooling rack and let the brioches rest for 5 to 10 minutes before lifting them out of the molds and onto the cooling rack.




Brioches are best eaten warm or at room temperature, and they are traditionally eaten at breakfast. However, the bread is also the carrier of choice for smoked salmon and is often served, cut into dippers, or soldiers
with soft-boiled or coddled eggs. When I've got brioche in the house, I find lots of ways to use it, including in a starter of Creamy Mushrooms and Eggs (
). And when it's stale, there's always
pain perdu,
or French toast (


Once baked, the brioches are really best eaten quickly. You can store the buns in a covered container and slice and toast them the next day, but you'll lose some of the texture's lovely spring and stretch. At that point, think French toast or


BOOK: Around My French Table
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