Recipe: Rum-Raisin-Almond Brioche

Imagine greeting your overnight guests with one of these in the morning! This is one of the many recipes we fell in love with from Baking Artisan Breads & Pastries by Ciril Hitz. They're a bit labor-intensive to make, but trust us, the pay-off is well worth it!Juicy rum-soaked raisins meld with the soft almond paste to produce one of the most pleasurable and sophisticated versions of brioche. The source of its inspiration was two of my favorite desserts from childhood: rum-raisin ice cream and chocolate-covered marzipan. It took more than a few attempts to get the right balance of ingredients and flavors, but eventually everything clicked. The brioche bakes up light and buttery with intensely flavored pockets of warm rum raisins and melt-in-your-mouth almond paste—a nice addition to the weekend brunch. Or, serve it as a dessert along with some vanilla-bean ice cream drizzled with the leftover rum syrup—simply divine! - Ciril Hitz

Rum-Raisin-Almond Brioche
Yield: 14 to 16 muffin-size brioches
Baking Temperature: 350°F (180°C, gas mark 4) convection mode
Baking Time: 18 to 20 minutes

Editor's Note: Ingredients are given in grams, ounces, volume, and baker's percentage. Each is separated by a "/" mark.

Pre-ferment (Poolish):
Bread flour - 165 g /5.82 oz / 1 1⁄3 cups / 100%
Whole milk - 165 g / 5.82 oz / 2⁄3 cup / 100%
Instant yeast, preferably osmotolerant - Pinch / Pinch / Pinch / n/a

Dough
Dark raisins - 250 g / 8.81 oz / 2 cups / 65.7%
Dark rum - 100 g / 3.52 oz / 1/2 cup / n/a
Simple Syrup - 50 g / 1.76 oz / ¼ cup / n/a (Recipe HERE)
Eggs, whole - 100 g / 3.52 oz / 2 eggs / 26.3%
Egg yolks - 50 g / 1.76 oz / 2 yolks / 13.1%
Almond paste - 100 g / 3.52 oz / 1/2 cup / 26.3%
Vanilla extract - 16 g / 0.56 oz / 4 tsp / 4.2%
Pre-ferment - All of it / All of it / All of it / 86.8%
Bread flour - 380 g / 13.4 oz / 3 cups+ / 100%
Granulated sugar - 100 g / 3.52 oz / 1/2 cup / 26.3%
Instant yeast, preferably osmotolerant - 8 g / 0.28 oz / 2 tsp / 2.1%
Salt - 11 g / 0.38 oz / 2 tsp / 2.8%
Lemon zest - 1 lemon / 1 lemon / 1 lemon / n/a
Unsalted butter - 252 g / 8.84 oz / 1 cup + 2 tbsp / 66.3%
Chocolate Glaze - 1 batch / 1 batch / 1 batch / n/a (Use this hot fudge recipe thickened with a few tablespoons of flour, or skip)
Powdered sugar, for topping - As needed / As needed / As needed / n/a

Procedure:
Day before baking:

1. Prepare the poolish: In a plastic container, combine the bread flour, whole milk, and instant yeast until a smooth consistency is achieved. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and allow to stand at room temperature overnight, ideally 12 to 15 hours at 68° to 70°F (20° to 21°C).

2. Soak the dark raisins in the dark rum and add enough Simple Syrup to the container to cover the raisins completely. Allow the raisins to soak overnight at room temperature.

3. Gently roll the almond paste into a small log and cut into 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) cubes. Place in a lidded container and freeze overnight.

Baking day:

1. Drain the rum-soaked raisins in a colander. (Note: You can save and store the rum syrup mixture for reuse. Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.)

2. Spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

3. Place the whole eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in the bowl of a 5-quart (5 L) stand mixer. Scrape the poolish out of its container and add it to the eggs.

4. Add the bread flour, granulated sugar, instant yeast, salt, and lemon zest to the bowl and mix everything at a low speed until cleanup stage.

5. While the dough is mixing, take the butter and hammer it with a rolling pin until it has a plastic quality to it. (See Mixing an Enriched Dough, page 60.)

6. Increase the mixing speed to medium and slowly add the softened butter in stages. After each addition of the butter, mix the dough until the slapping sound subsides and the walls of the mixer are fairly clean.

7. Mix the dough to a full gluten development and check it with a gluten window test. (See page 57.) You should be able to stretch a thin, smooth window without tearing.

8. At this point, add the frozen almond paste chunks and the rum-soaked raisins to the dough and mix at low speed. Stop the mixer periodically to scrape down the bowl sides and dough hook. Mix until the raisins and almond paste are evenly incorporated into the dough.

9. Remove the dough from the mixer and gently preshape into a round. Place in a proofing container, cover, and allow to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.

10. After this bulk fermentation, use a scale and bench scraper to divide the dough into 100 g (3.5 oz) units (about the size of a small lemon).

11. Work the units round on a floured surface (the soaked raisins tend to make the dough a bit stickier) and place in prepared muffin tins or paper muffin cups.

12. Cover the cups with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises to the tops of the muffin cups.

13. During this time, preheat a convection oven to 350°F (180°C, gas mark 4) and mix up a batch of Chocolate Glaze.

14. When the dough has risen to the desired height, use either a piping bag or spoon to spread about 1 tablespoon (14 g) of the Chocolate Glaze on top of each brioche. For a crackled effect, give the tops a heavy dusting of powdered sugar before baking.

15. Place the brioches in the preheated convection oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

16. Remove from the oven and let cool in the muffin tins on wire racks. When comfortable to handle, remove from the tins and allow to cool completely.

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