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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Schmaltz Brioche

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
My pal Monica sent me this recipe and it made my day. I used to eat rye toast with schmaltz on it as a special treat as a kid. But this is one better, the schmaltz is all through the bread, imagine the joy of schmaltz in every bite!

Schmaltz is made by rendering the fat from chicken skin. It is best made from organic chickens because they actually have fat on them, but it can also be purchased at kosher markets, poultry shops, or grocery stores with kosher sections (I have never seen one of these in NM). This recipe is adapted from La Tartine Gourmande's "Simplest Brioche" recipe.

Ingredients
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/3 cup warm milk
(should be warm, not hot; you should be able to comfortably dip your finger in it for 10 seconds)
1/2 cup schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 rounded teaspoon Kosher salt
1 egg, for egg wash
Additional schmaltz or butter for greasing

Procedure
Whisk together the yeast, sugar, and warm milk and let sit for 5 minutes until frothy.
Pour yeast mixture into the base of your mixer and attach the dough hook. Add the schmaltz and eggs and mix in well with the dough hook. Add the salt and flour, mixing with the dough hook at medium speed until it pulls away from the sides and a dough starts to form. Let knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and not too sticky. If the dough is still too wet after 10 minutes of kneading, add another 1/4 cup of flour and knead it again.

Grease a clean bowl with a bit of schmaltz. Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a ball. Place in the bowl and turn once to coat with schmaltz on all sides. Top loosely with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm spot to rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in volume.

Once the dough has risen, poke it down and turn over onto a floured surface. Knead it gently by hand for 2 minutes and then form into a ball and cut into 8 even sized pieces (doesn't have to be exact). Shape each piece into a ball. Grease a 9" loaf pan with schmaltz and tuck the 8 dough balls into the bottom of the pan so that they all touch. Use a pair of clean kitchen scissors to snip an X into the top of each ball (optional but gives the final bread a pretty shape) then cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in volume.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk one egg with one tablespoon of water and use a pastry brush to gently cover the top of the loaf with the egg wash.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the bread is golden. Remove from the oven and let cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.