The Bread with a Heart of Cake

Had you read through the last post carefully, you may have noticed where I casually mentioned brioche croutons. Yes, such a detail could easily be overlooked, uninteresting as it sounds on the surface, but there is really much more to it than just a few token cubes of stale bread. Brioche is a baker’s best friend, capable of applying itself in so many dessert applications that I couldn’t begin to list them all; a true work horse of the pastry kitchen. Of course, such versatility comes at a hefty price- About half a dozen eggs and a half pound of butter, minimum, for traditional recipes.

Well, after avoiding this delicious dilemma for so long, I could no longer stand having such a gaping hole in my recipe box, and I decided it was high time to tackle this challenge.  After all, I’m no newbie with yeast, and how different could it be from any other bread?

When the first brioche à tête came out of the oven, well-browned and smelling amazing, I was ready to call it a day and make some serious french toast. Waiting impatiently until it was merely warm to the touch, the first slice revealed a soft, golden interior, locked within a flaky, buttery crust. Completely unlike any bread I had previously tasted, it was truly like a yeasted cake with a tender crumb. What fantastic luck, to have created vegan brioche so easily!

Oh, but then, it was that second slice that put the brakes on my rejoicing.  Cutting away closer to the center, it was not merely moist or somewhat under-baked, but the core of this rounded loaf was positively raw. Gooey beyond repair, and completely inedible. So much for my marvelous brioche.

Luckily, all was not lost and that’s not the end of the story.   I had taken out some extra insurance and baked a standard loaf alongside at the same time! Much to my relief, the loaf had no sad streaks to speak of, and was just as delicious. So while I may not have used a standard recipe or form for this brioche, what matters most is the taste, and let’s just say that this cake-like bread didn’t last the weekend!

Should you still want to make brioche à tête, you will need to modify this recipe by baking at a lower temperature for a longer time, but I can’t give you specifics on that just yet. If you attempt this, let me know how it goes!

Brioche

1/2 Cup Garbanzo Bean Flour
1 3/4 Cups Plain Soymilk
1 .6-Ounce Cake Fresh Yeast
4 Cups Bread Flour
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Black Salt
1 Teaspoon Table Salt
1/4 Cup Plain Soy Creamer
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Cup Margarine, Cut into Small Cubes

Place the garbanzo bean flour in a medium saucepan and stir in a small amount of the soymilk to form a paste. Once smooth, add in the rest of the soymilk, and whisk thoroughly. Cook over medium heat for about 5 – 10 minutes, until bubbles begin to break on the surface and the mixture feels significantly thickened. Turn off the heat, and continue to whisk occasionally for the next 10 minutes to help it cool down without forming a skin on top. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the garbanzo mixture, and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes, until just barely warm to the touch.

In your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, crumble the cake of yeast into the flour, and mix briefly to incorporate all the pieces. Add in the sugar and salts, and mix once more. Once cooled enough that it won’t kill the yeast, (less than 120 degrees F) scrape the garbanzo and soymilk “pudding” in and begin to mix on low speed. Combine the soy creamer and vinegar together before introducing them to the main mixing bowl as well.

Once you have all of the dry and wet ingredients incorporated but the dough is still weak in structure, begin to add in the margarine, a few cubes at a time. They should get folded in to a point that you can’t see them any more, but be patient because it takes time. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes once it seems smooth.

After it has rested, dump the dough out onto a clean surface. DO NOT use extra flour here, despite how sticky the dough is. Simply use a bench scraper if you can’t get it off the counter. Kneed it briefly by hand, stretching and folding it to strengthen the structure, for about 10 minutes. Roll the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly greased bowl, and cover it lightly with a towel. Place it in the fridge and let it rise overnight, between 8 and 12 hours.

In the morning, cut the dough in half, and then cut each half into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball, and then place 3 balls all lined up evenly in a lightly greased 8 x 4 inch loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover with a towel again, and let the loaves rest in a warm place for around 2 1/2 hours, until doubled or tripled in volume. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees as your loaves near the end of their rising time, and lightly brush them with vegan egg wash. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until well-browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let the loaves rest in the pans for 5 minutes before turning them out onto wire racks to cool.

Makes 2 Loaves.

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