Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Beer Bread, Pain Au Chocolat, Brioche Bostock

Today we made Beer Bread and Pain Au Chocolat. In the pictures, the Beer Bread is the loaf with the appearance of the cracked top, and the Pain Au Chocolat is the rounded pastry alongside the croissants.

Interestingly, Beer Bread contains no beer inside the loaf. The beer (Guiness, in this case) is mixed with a small portion of yeast, flour and salt, which becomes a paste that is spread on top of the bread dough. The loaf is then baked, and the beer flavor is actually drawn into the bread. Chef John also recommended the possibility of making this with champagne or hard cider. Another notable ingredient inside the beer bread is mashed potatoes. We used instant mashed potatoes, but at home I would use real mashed potatoes.

The Pain Au Chocolat is also called a Chocolate Croissant. The dough is identical to croissant dough, but it is cut into rectangles rather than into triangles before shaping. The dough is rolled around a small "log" of chocolate before proofing and baking. This is a special type of chocolate that is solid, but remains soft after baking. On some of the pieces, we also inserted a few banana slices alongside the chocolate, which was a nice touch.
My friend Marc Chapdelaine grew very fond of Pain Au Chocolat when he lived in France, and he's been asking me about it since pastry school started. I'm thinking he'll be very happy when I show up on his doorstep tonight with a half dozen for him and his wife, Deb. Bon apetit!

Finally, we also made Brioche Bostock today. We sliced up some day-old brioche, dipped it in almond syrup, spread on some almond cream, topped with sliced almonds, and baked for about 15 minutes until toasted. When I brought them home today, Ali said she could eat them every morning with a cup of coffee for the rest of her life. What a great way to use up uneaten brioche. Of course, there's always french toast, too...

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