Mortality

It is the last Sunday before Easter – Palm Sunday – and for many of you out there, today is a reminder of human frailty and mortality. After all, the flesh is weak. Very weak. Coincidentally, as I write this, I have a friend who is currently in the hospital – having fractured his pelvic bone, broken hip socket, and chipped vertebrae, after a nasty fall – all just weeks before his wedding. I also recently found out that my mentor at Cal was involved in a car accident – a car had ran right into her bike, leaving her immobilized for many months. My sister was also recently in a car accident, and the remaining scraps of her hand-me-down vehicle will remain forever at the dump. I think that we often forget that our flesh and bones are incredibly delicate. Sure, we are capable of many great things, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t take much to hurt us. At my age, my friends and I walk around with a self-envisioned force field – call it megalomania or hubris or stupidity. We are invincible, nothing can harm us. Right now, the world is our stage. But all it takes is a drunken driver, a careless roadster, or maybe a small cluster of irregular cells, to make us crumple. How silly that we don’t realize that? How silly that these things aren’t always in our control?


CloseUp

Dorie Greenspan Brioche aka Best Brioche Ever
Source: Bon Appetit
This recipe makes the most amazing brioche I have ever had. It’s fluffy and soft and oooh sooo buttery. I don’t need to fly to Paris weekly to get delicious brioche – now, I can just make them. And it’s so worth it. As yeasted products go, brioche is fairly simple, though the wait time can be agonizing. I made these for the first time ever today, and they turned out beautifully. Please read Dorie Greenspan’s beautiful introduction on Bon Appetit – the tips are invaluable. The major thing I would watch out for is humidity – today, it was super humid, so I added a few teaspoons extra of flour. On a drier day, that step won’t be necessary. My changes to the original recipe are in [brackets].

Ingredients
1/4 c warm water [105°F]
1/4 c warm whole milk [105°F]
3 tsp active dry yeast [1 packet = 2-1/4 tsp]
2 3/4 c all purpose flour [plus/minus a few tablespoons to account for humidity]
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs, room temp
3 tbs sugar
12 tbs unsalted butter, room temp
Glaze: 1 large egg + 1 tsp water, beaten

Directions
In a bowl of a mixer, add warm milk and water. Sprinkle in yeast and stir with a spatula. Allow to foam (and pray to the yeastie gods). Add flour and salt to the yeast. Use the paddle attachment and blend at low speed until combined, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Continuing on low speed, add butter, tablespoon at a time. It may take a while to incorporate the butter, but the all the beating and blending is really good for the dough – this should take 10 minutes or so. ALSO, 12 tablespoons of butter may seem a lot – it is, but will result in the most beautiful and delectable brioche you have ever seen. Depending on a lot of external factors (and the mood of the yeastie gods), the dough may or may not be soft and silky. I had to add an extra few teaspoons of flour in order for the dough to start coming together, as opposed to being a sticky, buttery mess. Even so, err on the side of a stickier dough, as that will still taste infinitely better than a drier/denser final product. At this point, I would change to a dough hook, and continue beating the dough at medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and you can hear a distinct slapping noise. This can take up to another 10 minutes.

BeforeAfter

Butter a large bowl, and scrape the dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic and allow to rise in a warm area until doubled in volume. I put the dough near my radiator, and it took about 1.5 hours or so. Every so often, deflate the dough by gently pushing down on the air bubbles. Cover bowl again, and refrigerate over night.

[Count sheep, sleep, dream, wake up]

Lightly butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan. Remove dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and cut each piece into thirds, OR you could simply use a loaf pans. To make these bubble top brioche buns, however, use your palm to roll each dough piece into round balls. Place 3 balls of dough into each muffin cup, and place muffin pan in a warm place. Cover with waxed paper and allow to dough to double in size, about 1 hour [see image above for Before/After shot]. The tricky part here is to not let the dough rise too quickly, or it will deflate. This can be avoided by placing the dough in a warm and stable-temperature environment. Over the radiator is too hot (as I sadly found out).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Brush each brioche with egg glaze and place pan in oven. Bake until golden brown, and foiling as necessary to prevent browning too quickly, about 20 minutes. Once baked, twist each brioche to remove from pan. Enjoy with some jam (or more butter!) or as is – plain and simple.

Cool

These are absolutely perfect for Easter Sunday brunch. If you bake these in loaf pans instead, these would be ideal for French toast. I can’t wait to make these again next week for my family.

Jam

In no way am I suggesting that we should stop doing all things fun and constantly worry about our mortality. Not at all – would life even be worth living at that point? But I think exercising a bit more caution and a little less arrogance can go a long way. And for the things that are out of our control, roll with the punches and thank goodness it wasn’t any worse.

AnhD.

PS. Special thanks to StephR who is the queen of yeast, and who helped me get over my yeasted fears. I defer to you in all things. ❤

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One Response to Mortality

  1. hue tran says:

    it s a sunday morming .. i read over your blog , i like it very much , keep a very good work …. . big Dee

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