4 October 2008

Baking Master Class

Once again I've lapsed in my cooking and also missed out the September Daring Bakers challenge (unforgivable!), but I fully intend to catch up.

Last Thursday I used up a birthday voucher on a master class in croissant making at The Bertinet Kitchen in Bath run by Richard Bertinet himself.

We also made brioche, which I hadn't expected, so it was a nice bonus. I hadn't realised how much effort goes in to make these wonderful things.

Here are some photos of what the class of 12 produced.

Pain aux raisins

Danish pastries



And the leftover dough from the brioche and the cut-offs from the puff pastry were deep fried and rolled in sugar resulting in wonderful doughnuts and crispy sweet twiglets.

Needless to say that I was in a happy place all Friday, despite hurting feet and all that.

So while things are still fresh in my mind, I'm in the process of making brioche according to the recipe we used at the school.


500 g strong white flour
15 g fresh yeast
50 g caster sugar
10 g salt
6 eggs
225 g butter

Egg wash
1 egg
pinch of salt


  1. Measure up everything and have ready to add at the right moment. Ensure the work surface is clean, as the dough is entirely worked by hand.
  2. Cut up the butter into 1 cm cubes and leave on the side.
  3. Rub the yeast into the flour until well incorporated.
  4. Add sugar, salt and eggs and incorporate into a very sticky dough. This doesn't take too long. Mr Bertinet recommended using a dough scraper, but I haven't managed to get hold of one yet.

  5. Turn out on the work surface. Do not add any flour, it's supposed to be sticky.
  6. Now work the dough by sticking your hands under the dough on either side, palms up like fork lifts. Bring your thumbs together on top of the dough and lift. In the air, turn your hands and the dough down and slap it back onto he work surface, then pull the part you're holding towards you and fold over the part that's stuck to the table. This brings you back to the starting position approximately.
  7. As you can see a lot sticks to the work surface, but that's OK, keep doing this movement and about 30 minutes later the dough will stop sticking to the table. Use a dough scraper or similar to incorporate whatever's stuck to the surface every now and then. This is quite good exercise and I recommend standing with one foot forward and one behind to get the better swing to it.
  8. Once the dough stops sticking to the surface, flatten it out a bit and put the butter dice on top of it. Tuck in from all sides an keep doing this until enough butter has been incorporated so that you can start the flap and fold motion again. The butter will try to ooze out, but be persistent, it'll all get in and the dough will feel easier to work with.
  9. Once all has been incorporated and the dough seems smooth, make a nice fold to get a smooth top side on it, flour a bowl very lightly and put the dough in. Dust a little flour on top, cover with a cloth and leave to rest for a couple of hours.
  10. In the mean time, scrape off any leftovers from the work surface, but do not wash, as the dough will need further work. Just make sure there are no dry bits stuck, as they'll ruin the dough in the next run.
  11. When it's rested, take it out on the work surface again, making sure the smooth side of the dough ends up underneath. Imagine there are corners along the edges of the dough, pick one and fold towards the middle. Working in one direction only, keep folding the corners that appear towards the middle until you've done a couple of full circles on the dough. At this point I decided to add 100 g of sultanas that I'd rolled in a little flour.
  12. Put back in the bowl and leave in a cool place (about 10 degrees C) overnight, to allow more flavours to develop. Or leave to rest for another couple of hours if you feel a bit rushed.
  13. If you kept the dough in the fridge, take it out and let it come up to room temperature before you form the brioches. This is a good time to make the egg wash by whisking lightly an egg with a pinch of salt and leaving to stand until needed.
  14. Make shapes of your choice with your fingers, avoid touching with the whole of your hand or the butter in the dough will start to melt. Generally avoid fiddling with the dough too much, it should still be as soft as after the first rest. I just rolled balls and snipped at the top. Not too pretty with the raisins
  15. Leave the ready shapes to rise until double in size, about an hour or so. If the kitchen feels a bit cool, turn on the oven on a low heat to warm it up. Pre-heat to gas mark 6 (200 degrees C) shortly before it's time to bake the brioches.
  16. Brush carefully with egg wash. Baking time depends on the size and shape. For the buns, it took 22 minutes and I swapped the two trays after half the time.
    I also put some balls into a loaf tin, which took a bit longer. Once they're baked and out of the oven, carefully prize them out of the tin mould and leave on the side to cool. This will ensure that the crust stays nice and crunchy.

This was a definite success, despite some initial doubts, and Lundulph had to be pulled away from them, after he'd eaten two in very quick succession. The crust was wonderfully crunchy and inside they were light as a feather. Quite oily though, so I think I'll reduce the amount of butter next time. Once they have cooled, they can be frozen.

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