Ohh gosh. I will be honest. When I found out this month’s ingredient for the #BreadBakers event was grapes, I was a little bit thrown off. I’ll be the first to say, I really dislike raisins. Like, I totally hate them. I know that tons of people out there love them and I usually give away most of what I bake anyways, but I really wanted to try something different and new.
I’m also really weird about certain fruits in baked goods (so fresh grapes were a no-go either). Then I found out that wiiiine was allowed in our October bread event. I looooove wine. So, I decided of course…that had to happen somehow.
I had wanted to try to make a sourdough with wine (just obtained a new starter that I got from school and I want to experiment with it), but I was informed by my pastry chef that the wild yeast couldn’t handle the high alcohol content in wine (wouldn’t that be delicious though?). Sooo then I decided brioche would be great because it’s a really versatile dough and I had so much fun working with it in class.
We poached some pears in my knife skills class for the bakery, and they were so delicious that I haaad to try it at home. We did marsala ones at school, so I figured a vino version would be great. The wine flavor with the pears and the buttery brioche dough, plus the tangy creme fraiche and crunchy toasted almonds. Ohhh… It’s pretty a tasty combination, if I do say so myself.
We just did bread week in my intro baking class in culinary school, and the entire time our chef was reiterating to us that all bread needs is time. It’s the easiest thing to make in terms of ingredients, it just always needs to be given some peaceful alone time before it can do its magic. Chef even says kneading is highly overrated in many cases. Often times the yeast just needs to ferment and develop all that wonderful flavor and leavening properties by resting.
I’m much more experienced with the patiserrie side of baking and pastry, and a lot of things on that spectrum are time sensitive…meaning they have to be made quickly and efficiently or else most of the time they won’t come out. Boulangerie has some of that (hellooo croissants), but many breads prefer to rest and take it easy (especiallly wild yeast breads…like sourdough). Keep your eyes out for lots ‘o bread experimenting on this ‘lil blog in the near future!
I’m so glad that I have been able to learn so much in culinary school this far, and I’ve only been in two cooking classes! I love that this Bread Bakers group lets me take that new knowledge and have lotso fun with it! 🙂
This week I start the Production Baking class, where I will be working for the bakery in our culinary arts building that is open to the public. It’s five days a week, for five hours each day (and pretty early haha) so I’ll be baking alllll the time. I’m so excited. 😀 Anyhow, back to the bread!
Ingredients: (Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit: Desserts)
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons milk
Pear Filling and Wine Sauce-
1 3/4 cup dry red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
3/4 cup sugar plus another 2 tablespoons (divided)
3 medium Bosc pears (firm, but ripe)
2 teaspoon corn starch
2 teaspoon water
For the brioche: Grease a 9 inch spring form pan. In a food processor, blend the dry ingredients until mixed. Add the butter, and pulse until the butter is broken into pea-sized pieces. Next add the eggs and milk, and pulse again until a sticky ball of dough forms. Pour into your pan, and with floured fingers press the dough down in the bottom of the pan until evenly distributed. Allow to sit (covered with a towel or plastic wrap) in a draft free warm area for at least two hours. It will not necessarily double in size, but it will become fluffier.
While waiting for your dough to proof, make the filling: Peel and quarter your pears. Core them, and then slice each quarter into 3 wedge-like pieces. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and wine and cook on medium-high until it boils and the sugar is dissolved (whisking occasionally). Turn down to medium low, add your pears and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes until the pears are tender. Remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside to allow them to cool (I stuck mine in the fridge so they’d cool faster). Boil the wine mixture until it reduces down to about 1 cup. In a small bowl whisk together the water and corn starch, and then stir into the wine. Whisking occasionally, cook the mixture until it becomes quite thick (about 3-4 minutes). Set aside for later.
Assembly/Baking: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Once your pears are cooled, arrange them over the brioche dough in a concentric circle (leave about a half inch border around the edge). Make sure you line them up quite close together. Sprinkle the pears with the two tablespoons of sugar remaining. Sprinkle the border with sliced almonds. Bake for about 30 minutes until the edges of the brioche are browned and the middle is cooked through. Remove the sides of the pan, and allow to cool on a wire rack before serving. Slice into wedges and drizzle with red wine sauce. Top with a dollop of crème fraîche.
It seems like a lot of work, but it’s actually a fairly easy process. You can totally make the pear part a day or more before, and with the food processor brioche it’s pretty quick in terms of hands on time.
The wine gives this brioche such a lovely flavor and color! And that wine reduction sauce is good on EVERYTHING. Red wine and dessert…it doesn’t get much better than that. 😀
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to firstname.lastname@example.org.