Strawberry is a universally popular flavor, and by using freeze-dried berries you can channel its appeal even when the fresh fruit is out of season.
The strawberry, more than any other fruit, seems to represent the excitement of summer's bounty. The flavor of a fresh-picked strawberry is hard to forget. However, adding strawberries to baked products can be a challenge, so the San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI) experimented to find which form of strawberries — fresh, frozen, dehydrated and freeze-dried — worked best in a brioche formula. The goal was to discover which produced the best strawberry flavor while maintaining the brioche's delicate, tender texture and rich, buttery flavor.
Brioche is a yeasted bread that is enriched with eggs and butter with characteristic qualities of caramelized dark-brown crust, soft and springy crumb and rich, buttery-yellow interior.
Frozen berries were quickly ruled out because they are not easily incorporated into brioche dough — even when adding them at the end of the mix just after the butter to prevent the berries from dissolving into the dough. Frozen berries contributed excess liquid that did not mix easily with butter and acted like ice in the dough, cutting through the network of protein strands developed during the mix.
When thawed or sliced, frozen strawberries were even more difficult to incorporate. In the final product, even with properly mixed dough, the frozen berries were mushy, had an unappealing grayish color and an off-flavor. Although it is possible to incorporate frozen berries successfully, the flavor and texture are less desirable than brioche made with dehydrated or freeze-dried berries.
Fresh strawberries were almost as watery in the dough as frozen berries, so to compensate for the excessive liquid, the hydration in the formula was decreased by 10 percent and the amount of berries increased. These adjustments made the strawberry chunks in the final product more visible, but the final brioche was still lackluster, having a mild strawberry flavor due to the low concentration of sugar and flavor in comparison with dehydrated and freeze-dried berries. As with the frozen berries, the fresh strawberries were grayish from oxidation and not very visible.
Dehydrated fresh strawberries created a brioche with more volume and a more uniform crumb than fresh or frozen berries. Soaking dried berries in rum before adding them to the dough lent another subtle layer of flavor. The best dried strawberries are purchased fresh and dehydrated at a low temperature for several hours, although purchasing already dried strawberries also works well. When dehydrating strawberries, choose smaller fruits because they have less water, a more concentrated flavor and a deeper color.
Finally, freeze-dried strawberries were put to the test. They functioned well because the freeze drying process locks in their color and fresh flavor. However, freeze-dried berries drew moisture away from other ingredients, so increase hydration if adding them to a standard brioche formula. Freeze-dried berries retained their fresh color and sweet strawberry flavor when baked, and the brioche featured a beautiful, uniform crumb and maximum height.
SFBI bakers were split between favoring the dehydrated and freeze-dried berries. To determine what customers would most appreciate, the school held a blind taste test with more than 40 participants comparing the fresh, dehydrated and freeze-dried strawberry brioche. The tasters rated each version on its exterior, crumb, aroma, flavor, texture and overall quality. The fresh strawberry brioche was rated high in flavor, landing in third place, and the dehydrated strawberry brioche surpassed the others in aroma, taking second. But in the final analysis, the freeze-dried strawberry brioche edged out the competition with its superior crumb, texture and overall appeal.
Why not capture the essence of summer strawberries in your brioche? Dehydrate some strawberries today while they're still plentiful at the market (or, if you're lucky, in the fields), and use them all summer long. Or, order high-quality dehydrated or freeze-dried berries and offer a brioche that will help your customers experience a little strawberry nostalgia of their own.
The formula provided for strawberry brioche is adapted from SFBI's book, Advanced Bread and Pastry. The chocolate glaze provides a nice texture and contrast with the white pearl sugar and serves as a good adhesive for adding a garnish prior to baking.
|Total appr. wt.||2||3.23||1.001 kg||200.1|
Method: Prepare poolish 12 hours before the final dough is to be mixed, and store at a room temperature, 70°F.
|Bread flour||2||8.4||1.145 kg||100|
|Osmotolerant yeast*||1||28.63 g||2.5|
|Almond paste||8.7||246.18 g||21.5|
|Freeze-dried strawberries||3||85.88 g||7.5|
|Total appr. wt.||9||4.2||4.200 kg||366.81|
Method: Set aside the butter, strawberries and half the sugar. The butter should remain refrigerated until ready to incorporate. Mix the remaining ingredients on first speed for four minutes just until incorporated. Then, mix for seven to eight minutes on second speed. Check for a gluten window; the dough should be at a 95 percent intensive development. (At 95 percent intensive, you have almost a full gluten window with a few areas of partial tearing.) Add the remaining sugar slowly in second speed until fully incorporated; check for a window after another five to six minutes of mixing. The goal is a strong dough, with no tearing of the gluten window. Beat the butter with a rolling pin until flat and pliable or plastic (about 1 in. thick). Add about one-third of the butter and mix on second until incorporated. Add the remaining butter, and mix on second speed for about three minutes. The dough will look like it is completely breaking apart, but will then come back together. Check for a strong gluten window. Slowly add the berries and mix on first speed. The desired final dough temperature is 74°F to 75°F. Shape the dough in a tight ball, place on a sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap. Bulk ferment at 70°F for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on dough temperature. (74°F and below, 1 hour; 75°F and above, 45 minutes.) After bulk fermentation, de-gas the dough, reshape, then retard. Bulk fermentation is slowed when the brioche is chilled. Dough can bulk retard for up to ten hours in the cooler. Divide the dough into 140-g pieces, and pre-shape into boules. Rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. (The surface of the dough shouldn't immediately spring back when touched at the end of the rest). Shape into boules, and place into 9-cm paper moulds. You can retard the dough overnight or proof immediately. Final proof at 78°F for two hours. Use a piping bag to cover each brioche with chocolate glaze. As the dough is in its most delicate state, be conscientious when handling it. Garnish with pearl sugar or sliced almonds. Bake at 325°F for 19 minutes, with no steam if using glaze. The surface of the brioche should feel firm and set before removing from the oven. Do not use a toothpick or skewer to check for doneness, as it could cause the brioche to collapse.
*Osmotolerant yeast should be used when the dough has a sugar level that is 10 percent or higher, as it is conditioned to withstand the higher sugar concentration.
Yield: 30 140-g brioche
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|Almond meal||0.9||25 g||5|
|Granulated sugar||1||1.6||500 g||100|
|Vegetable oil||0.8||23 g||4.6|
|Corn flour||1.3||38 g||7.5|
|Cocoa powder||1.3||38 g||7.5|
|Vanilla, 1 bean|
|Egg whites||6.3||179 g||35.8|
|Total appr. wt.||1||12.2||803 g||160.4|
Method: Sift the cocoa powder. Mix the dry ingredients together. Combine the wet ingredients and slowly incorporate them into the dry. Whisk until completely incorporated.
Reserve half the sugar and all the butter and berries. Do not add to the dough until the gluten is almost completely developed, near the end of mixing. Wait to add the berries until the other reserved ingredients have been incorporated and the dough has developed. These ingredients interfere with gluten development and prolong the mixing process. Prolonged mixing causes oxidation and loss of flavor.
Do not add the butter in chunks. Rather, beat the cold butter into a pliable disk with a rolling pin before adding. Chunks of butter do not incorporate well, leading to pools of butter in the dough, decreased volume and richness, and a denser, drier end product with a shorter shelf life.
Use osmotolerant yeast in this enriched dough; it performs much better than regular yeast in the relatively high-sugar environment of the brioche dough. If not using osmotolerant yeast, increase the amount of regular yeast in the dough.
The desired dough temperature at the end of the mix is 74°F to 75°F. If you overmix the dough, the temperature will be too high. If this happens, flatten the dough onto a sheet pan; cover with plastic wrap and chill until the dough is at the desired temperature. Then, allow the dough to bulk ferment at room temperature, 70°F.
The San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI) is a world-renowned leader in artisan bread and pastry education. Its global alumni base includes thousands of professionals, educators and enthusiasts. Critics hail its book, Advanced Bread and Pastry, as the authoritative textbook in the field. For more information, visit SFBI's website, www.sfbi.com.