Editor’s note: It takes a village to produce a Thomas Keller cookbook. There’s Thomas, his bakery chefs, a gaggle of cookbook writers and one stellar photographer. Linda Avery reviews the latest book, Bouchon Bakery, and takes a gluten-free brioche recipe for a spin.
by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel
photos by Deborah Jones
Every foodie knows the name Thomas Keller, but Sebastien Rouxel isn’t as familiar. Rouxel was hired by Keller in 1998 as head pastry chef at The French Laundry in Yountville, CA, and now leads five Bouchon Bakeries around the country.
It is apparent that the two have tremendous respect for each other. The collaborative effort put forth to produce this sophisticated cookbook is based on respect, friendship, and 14 years of working together.
The first 29 pages are devoted to their journeys to present day; Susie Keller and Amy Vogler weigh in (no pun intended) with a discussion of weighing verses measuring, equipment and favorite recipes.
Of the nine chapters of recipes that follow, bread – breads so beautiful that you can almost smell them – is king.
Keller announces “Bread is the reason Bouchon Bakery exists.”
The bread chapter (80 pages) includes fundamentals: bread dough shapes, a timeline grid addressing different bread requirements (so the baker can take advantage of down time to do other things.)
The quest for perfection is apparent throughout the book. Other chapters are devoted to cookies, cakes, scones, tarts, brioche, puff pastry and croissants, pâte a choux and confections. The cookies chapter even includes a recipe for dog treats.
Photos abound and are educational. Deborah Jones‘ photos are (this may be the first time I’ve said this) beyond perfection. They give the baker something to strive for. They are not just the end product images but technique photos and how-to photos. You will want to run out and buy a lattice bicycle cutter so that fruit can be seen through the open tops of your puff pastry.
This is not a book for the faint of heart. Most of the recipes include sub-recipes and are geared toward the experienced baker and the professional. In spite of the complexity of the recipes, anyone interested in baking will learn and appreciate the in-depth information.
Having said that, I’ll add that there is a recipe for the (with all due respect) ubiquitous blueberry muffin. However, this is the first time I’ve seen it noted “to rest the batter overnight or for up to 36 hours…” proving there’s always room for improvement.
We all have our favorite blueberry muffin recipe to which we can apply the new knowledge of a suggested resting period, but I don’t know anyone who can claim a fabulous Gluten-Free Brioche Roll recipe. This photo makes my mouth water. What a fabulous addition to any holiday dinner – be sure to mention that this is a recipe Thomas Keller uses!
Gluten-Free Brioche Rolls
(photo © by Deborah Jones)
Makes 12 rolls
In 2007, a young chef, Lena Kwak, did an internship at The French Laundry, and we asked her to stay. She was interested in nutrition, and as we found ourselves increasingly responding to diners who had specific dietary requests and restrictions, we often looked to Lena (pronounced “Lenna”) to test new recipes.
One of the most common requests we get is for gluten-free breads, cakes, cookies, pasta, and other preparations. And gluten intolerance is a condition we take seriously.
Every meal at The French Laundry begins with a cornet, a savory cone-shaped tuile filled with crème fraîche and salmon tartare. So Corey Lee, chef de cuisine at the time, asked Lena to develop a gluten-free tuile. And she moved on to other gluten-free products. Lena didn’t realize how important her work was until a diner came back to the kitchen, not to thank the chef, but to see her.
“She wanted to thank me for the brioche,” Lena recalls. “She started crying. She hadn’t been able to eat bread in seven years. People don’t realize how special the simplest pleasures are until they can’t have them.”
Lena had worked hard to create an all-purpose mixture, based on different rice flours, potato flours, and cornstarch, that she could use in any gluten-free baked good, one that could be substituted cup for cup, gram for gram, for wheat flour.
It was so good that Corey suggested she talk to me about developing a product we could market. It was 2010, and I was already making a number of products for Williams-Sonoma, but this one was potentially the most special of all. And that’s how Cup4Cup was born. It’s something we’re very proud of, as we are of these gluten-free brioche rolls. These are not just “pretty good for gluten-free,” they are fantastic brioche rolls, period.
2 teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons (20 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons + 1 3/4 teaspoons (230 grams) warm water, at 75°F/23.8°C
3 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon (535 grams) Cup4Cup (available at Williams-Sonoma)
2 tablespoons + 3/4 teaspoon (20 grams) kosher salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (158 grams) eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) egg yolks
1/4 cup (80 grams) honey
3.5 ounces (100 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg for the egg wash
1 teaspoon (6 grams) Maldon salt for sprinkling
You will need a 12-cup muffin pan.
1. Combine the yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Stir in the warm water, and set in a warm spot to proof for 10 minutes or until the yeast mixture is foaming and bubbly.
2. Meanwhile, combine the Cup4Cup and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whisk together the eggs, yolks, honey, butter, and proofed yeast mixture in a medium bowl.
3. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the egg mixture. Increase the speed to medium and mix the dough for 10 minutes. It will be very silky and not as stiff as regular bread dough.
4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set the bowl in a warm spot until the dough has about doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Using a rubber spatula, deflate the dough, turning it over a few times in the bowl. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
6. Make the egg wash by breaking 1 or more eggs, as needed, into a small bowl and whip with a fork or small whisk to combine the white(s) and yolk(s) well. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer before using.
7. Spray the muffin pan with nonstick spray. Spoon 1/3 cup (75 grams) of the dough into each cup. Brush the tops of the rolls with egg wash, sprinkle with the Maldon salt, and set in a warm spot to proof uncovered for about 40 minutes until they rise (but are not doubled) and spread slightly.
8. Preheat the oven to 350°F (standard). Bake the rolls for 15 to 17 minutes, until the tops are a golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of a roll comes out clean.
9. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.