Friday, May 21, 2010

Richard Bertinet's sweet dough 1.0

Remember the cool video I mentioned the other day, where Richard Bertinet demonstrated the 2 handed kneading technique for wet doughs? I hear it's called the French Fold. I doubt it's called that in France, of course, but at least in the English speaking world.

After applying this kneading method successfully to at least 3 yeast breads, I finally decided to try his recipe for the sweet bread dough. Unlike the lean doughs I've been working with lately, this one had some egg, butter, milk, and sugar. Some people compare it to a leaner brioche, but a good Pain de Mie (basic French sandwich bread) would be a better comparison. Even the leanest of brioche doughs would have at least twice as much butter.

Making this dough is a piece of cake, because the butter goes in right in the beginning vs. a real brioche that requires you to develop gluten completely AND THEN incorporate the butter piece by piece until smooth -- much more labor intensive.

  1. I didn't have whole milk, so used 1 cup 2% milk plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  2. He calls for 1/2 oz fresh yeast or 1/4 oz active dry. I used 4.5 g SAF instant, using Beranbaum's book to figure out this conversion.
  3. He calls for bread flour, I used King Arthur all-purpose (AP). It had plenty of chew for this kind of bread, so I would stick with AP.
  4. He calls for superfine granulated sugar. I used regular granulated sugar. In theory, you can make superfine sugar by running granulated sugar through a food processor, but it dissolved just fine and I didn't bother. All the sources I found on-line indicate that a cup of superfine sugar weights the same as a cup of granulated sugar. I find it hard to believe, because the superfine sugar has smaller granules thus it would be more packed in a cup. But unfortunately, the recipe didn't give weight for sugar. They just said 3 Tbsp, and I substituted granulated sugar without changing the volume amount.
  5. He calls for 2 tsp salt. I assumed it's table salt and doubled the amount since I was using Diamond Crystal Kosher.
Here is my formula
1 cup 2% milk plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream
4.5 g SAF instant yeast (about 1.5 tsp)
18 oz AP flour
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
4 tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
2 large eggs

Other changes:
  1. He calls for 1 hour rise in the recipe (1.5 hour rise in the video). I let mine rise 3.5 hours because the kitchen was in the 60s, but I am guessing that 1 hour is still too short even on a hot day.
  2. I baked half of the dough with only 1 rise and a proof and the other half with 2 rises and a proof (second rise was retarded in the fridge over night). Not much difference.

It's a lovely dough, but not for what I used it. I used it for pirozhki (piroshki) -- Russian stuffed rolls. I was hoping it would be a much easier alternative to brioche dough I usually use. It's easier, but less tender and way leaner. I am guessing that if you crank up the butter and sugar a tad in this one, you might be able to get away with this sweet dough rather than brioche technique for pirozhki. I also shaped a few plain rolls, sprinkled with sugar. They were fine out of the oven, but too firm once cooled.

My best guess is that this dough would be fabulous for burger buns, tea sandwiches, and summer pudding. Of course, brioche burger buns are the ultimate indulgence, but in my opinion they are over the top. I like the beef and cheese to be the greasy stars of my burgers and don't want the fat content of the bun to overshadow them. On another hand, I hate the squishy supermarket buns that can't hold the juiciness of a good burger. But serving burger on baguette, focaccia, or any other crusty or chewy breads, just ruins it for me. I want a bun that is sturdy enough to hold the juice, but soft enough to bite through with no tagging and pulling. I am very particular when it comes to burgers :) But it never occurred to me to make my own burger buns. Even now the idea seems a bit nuts, and the only way I can justify it is to make a ton of these buns and freeze them individually. Starting a yeast dough project for 2 burger buns is slightly psychotic even for me.

And about that summer pudding... First of all, what is it? If you've never had summer pudding before, you don't know what you are missing. It's stale sandwich bread, layered in a deep dish with cooked summer berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, red and black currents). They are cooked in sugar and produce the most delicious syrup that soaks into the bread for a day or two under a heavy weight. Then you invert the whole thing onto a platter, slice, serve with whipped cream and think you went to heaven.

Here is a recipe, in case you want to try it. It's my adaptable of David Lebovitz' recipe from Room for Dessert book. Ignore the bread buying instructions in it. That bread is no longer available in Boston, but this sweet dough bread would be wonderful if you bake it in a large rectangular shape.


Emily Gelsomin said...

Can't wait to try this recipe: any idea on if it will freeze well? Would love to keep it on hand.

Helen said...


I haven't tried freezing it, but as far as I understand, most yeast doughs freeze well.

You can also freeze the finished product. Just wrap tightly in plastic wrap.


Anonymous said...

Fabulous, thanks Helen, I'll be sure to keep you posted then!