I've mentioned before that we're very fond of breakfast in this house. In fact, I just realized that "breakfast" is one of the biggest categories of posts on my blog (surpassed only by chocolate). You hear all the time about how many people skip breakfast. I have no idea how or why they would do that. =) Growing up, breakfast during the week was simple. Cold cereal, a lot of the time. One of my earliest cooking memories was my mom teaching me how to make oatmeal (real oatmeal, cooked on the stovetop) for my sisters. I wasn't making it for myself, mind you, since I hate oatmeal. She would measure out the ingredients the night before (ooh, mise en place, long before I had any idea what that meant) so all I had to do was put them in the pot at the right time. I was probably about 10 0r 11 at the time.
More involved cooked "breakfasts" were reserved for dinner time, or Sunday mornings, especially at Gramma & Grampa's house. On those weekends when we went to visit my grandparents, we knew that we had good stuff to look forward to after church. Eggs, bacon, leftover potatoes cut up and fried in the bacon fat, bagels or English muffins... And coffeecake. We all loved the coffeecake part of breakfast. =) Sometimes homemade, but often Entenmann's. My favorite store-bought ones were the classic crumb cake, and the raspberry danish/coffeecake. I've got some really good recipes now for homemade crumb cake, like this one. And thanks to the Daring Bakers, I've even made my own danish. And let me tell you, that danish was fabulous. But it's rather time consuming to make danish dough, so it's not something I can do all the time.
Which brings us to the next bread I made for the BBA Challenge--brioche. I wasn't too concerned about this one. Thanks to Tuesdays with Dorie, I've made brioche dough a couple times before, for raisin snails and sticky buns. Both times I used the other half of the dough to make rolls or bread. Plain brioche just doesn't appeal to me that much--too rich for something that will be eaten on the side. But I liked the pastry-ish applications, a lot. So I was pretty sure that I wanted to use my BBA brioche for making a yummy breakfast pastry.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice has three different versions of brioche--rich man's, middle-class, and poor man's. They vary in the amount of butter and eggs that are worked into the dough. For what I was looking to do, I figured the middle-class version would be a safe bet. The full recipe uses a cup of butter. And it seemed like a good opportunity to use some of my eggs from the farmer's market. I've only made brioche dough in my standing mixer, and that works just fine for me. I made sure the butter and eggs were at room temperature before I started, and I didn't have any trouble at all mixing up the dough. It just takes a while to come together. Once the dough was made, I stuck it in my 4-quart bucket and tucked it into the fridge to rise overnight. Plus, such a rich dough is much easier to work with when it's very cold.
I had looked through various books in my cookbook collection trying to figure out what to do with the brioche dough. I ended up taking ideas from a couple different ones. The main idea came from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. In the brioche section, there's a recipe for a Brioche Coffeecake, in the style of what my mom used to call a "tea ring." You roll out the dough, spread filling over it, and roll it up, kind of like you're making cinnamon rolls. Then you form the log of dough into a ring, joining the ends together. You cut the dough at 1 1/2" intervals, and twist the sections so the cut edges are facing up. The whole thing ends up looking kind of like a flower. For the filling, I went with a simple Cream Cheese Filling from The Art and Soul of Baking. I spread it over the rolled out dough, and then spread a layer of raspberry fruit butter on top of it. Once the coffeecake was formed, I let it rise at room temperature until puffy. I baked it for 10 minutes at 400 degrees F, then turned the temperature down to 350 and baked it 20 minutes more. While it was still warm, I drizzled the pastry with a glaze of powdered sugar mixed with a bit of milk.
The verdict? I'm really happy with the way the coffeecake turned out. The flavors were just what I was looking for. While not quite the same as Danish dough, the result was a buttery crumb with a flaky exterior. Gillian was a big fan (as usual), and Brianna ate some as well, though she wasn't quite as enthusiastic. I probably ate the majority of it, though I did take some to work. I'm sure my memories of the Entenmann's raspberry danish are much better than the reality (I haven't had it in years). But I won't soon forget how good this coffeecake is, and I'll be making it again, sooner rather than later.
With the other half of my batch of brioche dough, I tried to make something like a cross between the raisin snails and cinnamon rolls. But it didn't work out quite right; I'll tell more about it if I can get it to turn out better next time. Meanwhile, be sure to check out what the other BBA Challenge bakers have been up to by checking out the blogroll. Many of the bakers are quite a bit farther along than I am. Next up, Casatiello, a brioche-relative with some interesting add-ins. I've got a couple variations to share. Also, I'm submitting my pretty coffeecake to YeastSpotting.