Impact of the kneading time on the consistency of a brioche

I have a workingcolleague, who shares my passion for cooking and especially for baking. After he tasted the brownies I brought to work one day, he suggested jokingly that we should hold a small baking competition. I was instantly jumped on board with the idea and we decided that we both bake a brioche. It was a little bit unfair, because he is French and has a small bit homeadvantage. Besides, I never made brioche before. But I thought I might learn something, and so I did.

He made a brioche white only flour, milk and yeast and it was better than my more traditional approach. It was fluffier and had a nicer structure to it. I was a little bit upset and started to ask for the differences between our brioches. With the exception of the ingredients, we did pretty much the same thing, give the dough the same time to rise and so on.

On a sidenote, he said that the most difficult part was the kneading of the dough. We both have no kitchenmachine with wich we could knead the dough, so we did it by hand. I was lazy and stoped as soon as everything came together and he must have gone on for some more time. That mad me curios and I came up with an experiment:

I will make three brioches with the same recipe and will knead them for different amounts of time.

The recipe is from my mother. She makes brioche for our whole extended family, and we have a big extended family.

Ingredients per 100g of high graded flour:

  • 50g melted unsalted butter (around 38°C)
  • 3g of active dry yeast
  • 20g of white sugar
  • 30g of milk (~38°C)
  • 1 egg
  • a little pinch of salt

You also need:

  • Egg yolk and milk to cover the brioche
  • Sugar for a coating

Instructions:

Mix the yeast and milk together. Stir only at the beginning then let it rest for ~8 minutes. Place the flour in a bowl, make a mould in the middle, pour in the yeast-milk mix and mix it with a quarter of the flour. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Then mix all ingredients together. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Knead it again, put it in the shape of your desire and let it rise for 30 minuts. Cover it with a mix of 1 yolk and 2 tablespoons of milk, coat it in sugar and put it in the preheated oven with 220°C for around 12 minutes (depending on the shape of your brioche)

The experiment

For my experiment I made a dough with 300g of flour following the recipe. After mixing all ingredients together, a sticky, rough but homogenous dough formed. I took one third of the dough and let it rise (dough A). The remaining dough was kneaded by hand for 20 minutes. The remaining dough was then divided in half. On was going to rise (dough B), the other one was kneaded for another 20 minutes before he was given the time to rise (dough C). Every part of the dough was treated the same way after the kneading. Tow hours to rise, one quick knead for around 3 minutes, put in shape, rise for 30 minutes and than baked at 220°C for 12 minutes.

Observations during the kneading:

The kneading changed the texture of the dough. At the beginning it was very sticky and sloppy.

Dough A after the „kneading“ rough surface and very soft

After 10 minutes it became a really smooth surface and started to become more tense and elastic. The hardest time to knead was around 20 minutes. Then the dough was very elastic and would bounce back after you tried to flatten it with the palm of your hand.

Dough B: much smoother surface and really elastic

At 25 minutes the surface of the dough developed rips. After 30 minutes of kneading the dough became smooth again but lost more and more elasticity.

Dough C: smooth surface but loose in tension

Results:

After the 2 hour rise I was able to make the same observations as after the kneading

Dough A after the 2h rise, the quick knead and the shaping: still very rough and sticky on the surface

Dough B rose as well as A and kept his smoothness but lost a little tension.

Dough C got little bubbles on the surface after the rise and was even more soft but was therefore the easiest to form. The three strings staid in shape and were not too elastic so that they would bounce back.

After the 30 minute raise there was no difference

Tasting

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