Lessons 33 & 35 – Doughnuts, Brioche and Cannolis

In these next three lessons, we learned to discover the joy of fried desserts, as well as the wonder of brioche. For whatever reason, I always find myself drawn to Brioche in café windows. I think it might be due to the fact that it works as both a savory and sweet bread and is always so airy and delicious. We learned how to make many forms of brioche – we made brioche a Tete, which literally means with a head, we made a brioche loaf which is a pull-apart loaf, and well as many others.

Brioche a Tete is probably the most common way I see brioche around the city and they are just the cutest little bread rolls I’ve ever come across. We also got to make Pains aux Raisins, which although I usually greatly dislike raisins, the currants in this recipe are what made them so good – well, that and the apricot glaze and fondant we threw over them!

After finishing the brioche, we moved onto frying donuts. Donuts are actually quite simple to prepare as long as you follow a few rules such as: don’t overwork the dough and don’t use too much flour on the work surface, both of which can lead to tough, heavy donuts. Also, make sure your oil is at exactly the right temperature before frying donuts because hot oil literally seizes the outside of the donut creating a shell that makes sure the inside doesn’t get oily.

Then it was time for cannolis. I always wondered how that outside shell was made and it turns out it is created by wrapping a disc of dough around a metal rod and frying it until bubbles appear. To get the disc of dough super thin, it is actually rolled through a pasta roller (I’ve always looked for an excuse to get a pasta roller and I may have just found it)! After bubbles begin appearing on the shell, remove the rod from the hot oil and immediately remove the rods from the shell. If you allow the shell to cool before removing the rod, the shell will shrink as they cool and shatter when the rod is removed. As when frying anything, do not overcrowd the pan or it will bring down the temperature of the oil and you will wind up with soggy items.

Up next, tarts!

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