Thursday, January 24, 2013

Logical next step...BREAD!

"I like bread and butter, he likes toast and jam..."  I find myself singing this lyric quite often as there really is nothing quite like bread and butter...or toast and jam (with butter too, of course!).

Having said that, a natural segue from my beloved baked goodies is bread.  And not just ANY bread, but of course bread who's key ingredient IS....butter - of course.  I'm talking about that bread that you see in the fancy bakeries and your mouth instantly're amazement at how it glistens in the shop mouth wateringly it tastes when made into french toast.  What am I talking about?  Brioche, of course.  And in this case in particular, Brioche Nanterre, or the Brioche loaf.  While the rolls are certainly delectable, I've been purchasing a beautiful french Brioche loaf from a good grocer and it got me wondering why I haven't thought to make it myself.  How hard can it be?  Afterall, I have dabbled in croissant dough, so what can be more intimidating?

Pulling out my trusty Bouchon Bakery cookbook, of course I find immaculate instructions on how to make 4 versions of Brioche, and specifically Brioche Nanterre.  I'm in heaven.  The ingredients are few, but the process is time consuming - though not difficult.  What I would do without my KitchenAid mixer, I have no idea.  Flour, instant yeast, sugar, fine sea salt, eggs, milk and butter (the last three all at room temperature) are the ingredients.  Time, correct mixer speed, patience and house chores are required.  After combining all ingredients except the butter, you mix them all with a dough hook on low for 30 minutes.  After you clean your kitchen, may I suggest doing a load of laundry and other house chores while your mixer churns away for the 30 minutes?  After said 30 minutes, you then begin to add the butter in small parts.  I'd say it was all incorporated in about 10 or so minutes.  After the butter has been absorbed, you scrape the dough off the hook and from the sides of the bowl and allow the mixture to mix for an additional 10 minutes.  When the 10 minutes is up, you fold the dough.  After folding the dough, you put it in a greased bowl, cover it, and set a timer for an hour.  Once the hour is up, you fold it yet again, put it back in said bowl, cover it, and refrigerate it overnight.

As of now, my dough is comfortably being refrigerated.  Tomorrow I'll remove it from the refrigerator, form the dough into 12 balls, place 6 balls in one loaf pan (the other 6 in another) and then let them proof for 2.5-3 hours. After this time, they then will be ready to be baked for 25 minutes.  Voila!  Brioche Nanterre!

As you can see, the ingredients are straight forward, and the recipe is quite simple.  It's just the time requirements that make the process lengthy.  The dough already smelled fantastic and I look forward to seeing how the Nanterre will turn out.  I'll post pictures tomorrow of the preproofed state, proofed state, and then post baked state of the bread.  Fingers crossed that the time required to 'coddle' this dough was well worth it (something tells me it will be).

Hopefully many a yummy French Toast breakfast is in our near future :).

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Coffee &, really!

While I exploit my love for butter, many friends of mine know I feel similarly about coffee.

Living in tea nation, it is quite difficult to find a good cup of coffee.  I do prefer my coffee at home than those cups I can buy at the local cafes.  Thanks to Illy Caffe and our Rancilio Silvia, along with some yummy chocolate and Monin Syrup, I've been able to perfect my own Hazelnut Mochaccino.

Having said that, a wonderful friend of mine that I knew back in CA sent me an article about how to make your coffee 'bulletproof'.  Of course I was interested.  And not surprisingly, butter was the secret ingredient.  Have a look:

While I have yet to try this at home, I have little doubt at how extraordinary it is.  And I also imagine that this too will be something I yearn to perfect on the homefront!

Monday, January 7, 2013

UPDATE: selling to local cafes

I managed to rope in a good friend of mine, Chrissy, into this business venture.  She's also a great baker, and is planning on opening up her own cafe in Seattle when she returns there for good in July (bummer for me, awesome for her). 

We met with two cafes on December 21st, The Beehive in Chiswick & The Milestone Cafe in Sheen, and had 9 baked items for them to sample.  The items included: Buttermilk Orange Cranberry & Currant Scones, Blueberry Muffins, Double Chocolate Pecan Biscotti, Buttermilk 'American' Cinnamon Buns, Cranberry Pecan 'Coffee' Cake, Vanilla Rum Tea Cakes, Cinnamon Sour Cream Muffins, To.Die.For double chocolate chip cookies (seriously TDF), and Raspberry Bars.  All items received rave reviews from the owners, staff, and customers.

We are now planning to meet up again with the cafes to review the items against the cafes current 'line-up', discuss pricing, and also understand what other products they might be interested in that weren't part of our samples.  We also suggested to do a one week trial of a selection of our baked goods to see what their regular customers like and identify which items were the biggest sellers. 

Chrissy and I need to think about what we really want out of this venture, as it's becoming very apparent that there is a very large market just waiting for us out there (should we so desire to tap it).  
This is, of course, due to my wonderful friends out here in London who are putting me in contact with all of their favorite cafes that, they believe, would love our home baked goods (i'm beyond touched that they think that highly of me and my baked have no idea!).

Our next steps will be working with the cafes to identify which products they'd like to do the trial with, decide the pricing, and choose a timeframe to do the trial.  Once that's nailed down, we will wait and see how the products sell to see about a possible future.  Should we be so lucky as to have the cafes want to bring us on suppliers, our next steps will be to drum up some more local business with other cafes and begin thinking about expanding our operations (looking for commercial kitchen space, hiring folks, etc.).  VERY exciting stuff...stay tuned!