Pâte A Brioche
For a 6- to 7-cup baking mold, or 8 muffin cups
Mixing and Kneading The Dough
1 package (1/4 ounce) dry active
3 Tb hot water (not over 110 degrees) in a cup
¼ tsp salt
½ Tb granulated sugar
Sprinkle the yeast over the hot water, add the salt and sugar, and let yeast dissolve and rise in a soft mass on top of the liquid. This will take 5 minutes or so, prepare rest of ingredients while yeast is proving itself.
2 cups (9 ounces) all purpose flour (measure by dipping dry-measure cup into flour; level off excess with straight-edged knife)
½ Tb granulated sugar
¾ tsp salt
3 eggs (U.S. graded “large”)
1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) chilled butter
Blend flour, sugar salt, eggs, and dissolved yeast in a mixing bowl with a rubber spatula, then turn out onto a pastry board or marble. Begin lifting dough and throwing it roughly down on the board with one hand; it will be very soft and sticky. Continue lifting, throwing, and scraping dough back into a mass; when dough has enough body, begin kneading with the heel of your hand.
After a few minutes of vigorous work, dough should have enough elasticity and body so that it barely sticks to your hand; it is now ready to receive the butter. Soften the butter by beating it with a rolling pin, then smearing it out on your board with the heel of your hand until it is perfectly smooth and about the same consistency as the dough.
Take a 2-tablespoon bit in your fingers and work it into the dough by beating, stirring vigorously, and smearing the dough around on the board. Dough will seem ropy and stringy, but smooths out as it absorbs the butter. Continue working in butter by bits until all has been incorporated and dough again barely sticks to your hand.
Then place dough in a clean bowl, sprinkle top with a teaspoon of flour, and cut a cross in the top with scissors (to help in rising). Put bowl in a plastic bag, or cover with a damp towel.
Brioches are lighter in texture if the dough has two risings before its final rising in the baking molds. For the first rising, set at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours or longer, until dough has risen by at least 2/3 and retreats slightly to the pressure of your finger. (Because of high butter content, rising temperature should not be over around 70 degrees; let rise several hours in refrigerator in hot weather.)
Remove from bowl, punch down, and knead for a moment. Replace in bowl, sprinkle lightly with flour, and set in a refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours until doubled in bulk. ( If left overnight, cover with a plate and weight to prevent overrising.) Do not allow dough to rise more than double or yeast will overferment before forming dough, punch down again. (Dough may then be frozen.)
Pâte Feuilletée (French Puff Pastry)
4 cups or 18 ounce flour- 1 cup plain bleached cake flour and 3 cups all purpose flour ( measure by scooping dry-measure cups into container and leveling off excess with straight edge of knife)
A large mixing bowl
¾ stick (3 ounces) chilled butter
2 tsp salt dissolved in 1 cup cold water
3 sticks (3/4 lb.) additional chilled butter
(Note: Puff Pastry is easiest to make when everything is cold; if you have a pastry marble, chill it in the refrigerator; if your pastry softens while rolling, chill it immediately for 15 minutes, then continue.)
Place flour in a large mixing bowl. Cut the ¾ stick chilled butter into ¼-inch pieces, and rub flour and butter rapidly together between the tips of your fingers, or work with a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Rapidly blend in the water, at first with a rubber spatula, then with the slightly cupped fingers of one hand, pressing mixture together to make a firm but pliable dough. (Work in a few drops water if necessary.) Knead briefly into a rough ball; wrap in waxed paper and chill for 30 to 40 minutes. Then roll out into a 10-inch circle. (Dough should look rough; it will smooth out later.)
Beat and knead the 3 additional sticks of chilled butter until smooth, free from lumps, malleable, yet still cold. Shape into a 5-inch square, and place in middle of dough circle. Bring edges of dough up over butter to enclose it completely, sealing top edges together with your fingers.
Turns 1 and 2
Lightly flour the package, and roll the dough into an even rectangle about 16 by 8 inches. Your objective is to spread the butter layer evenly between the dough layers, the length and width of the rectangle. Then, as though folding a letter. Bring bottom edge of dough up to the middle, and the top edge down to cover it, making three even layers. This is called a “turn”. Rotate pastry so top edge is your right, roll dough again into a rectangle, fold in three, then wrap in waxed paper and a dampened towel. Chill 45 to 60 minutes.
Turns 3 and 4; 5 and 6
Repeat with two more rolls and folds; chill again 45 minutes, then complete the final two rolls and folds, making six turns in all. Chill again for 45 to 60 minutes (2 hours if you are using instant-blending flour), and the dough is ready for shaping and baking. (Note: the first four turns should be completed within an hour; after the fourth turn, you may leave the pastry overnight, or freeze it.)
In 1961, as a recent graduate of the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, Julia Child co-authored the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and launched her career of educating Americans in delicious ways with food. In 1963 she began her own cooking show The French Chef, produced at WGBH. This recipe was published in The French Chef Cookbook*.