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Sweet Dough
Makesenough for 2 large loaves or 12 individual pastries

* Active Time:15 min
* Start to Finish:1 1/4 hr

March 2008
You’ll see this dough—essentially what’s known as pain viennois—all over France as an alternative to brioche. We can’t emphasize enough that you shouldn’t be alarmed at the wetness of the dough. Don’t try to knead it with the heel of your hand, but simply work it as shown in the video, and you’ll be rewarded with a satiny, springy dough that is, as Bertinet would say, “full of life.”

* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
* 1/2 oz fresh (cake) yeast or 1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (preferably Red Star or Saf; not rapid-rise)
* 1 lb 2 oz bread flour (about 3 3/4 cups)
* 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
* 3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 2 large eggs

a flexible plastic bowl scraper

If using fresh yeast, heat milk until just warm. If using dry yeast, heat milk to 120 to 130°F.
Rub yeast into flour in a large bowl, then rub in butter. Stir in sugar and salt. Fold in milk and eggs with bowl scraper, rotating bowl, until liquid is absorbed and a wet, sticky dough forms. (Dough will be wetter than most you’ve encountered.) Scrape dough out onto an unfloured surface. (Dough will be a sticky mess. Don’t be tempted to add more flour. By working the dough through a process of repeatedly stretching and folding it over onto itself, trapping air, dough will become cohesive and supple.).
Slide your fingers underneath both sides of dough with your thumbs on top. Lift dough up (to about chest level) with your thumbs toward you, letting dough hang slightly. In a continuous motion, swing dough down, slapping bottom of dough onto surface, then stretch dough up and back over itself in an arc to trap in air. Repeat lifting, slapping, and stretching, scraping surface with flat side of bowl scraper as needed, until dough is supple, cohesive, and starts to bounce slightly off of surface without sticking, about 8 minutes.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured clean surface. Form into a ball by folding each edge, in turn, into center of dough and pressing down well with your thumb, rotating ball as you go. Turn ball over and transfer to a lightly floured bowl and cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.

richard be Form loaves: Gently release dough from bowl with scraper onto a lightly foured surface (do not punch down) and divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into a ball.
Flatten l b all with heel of your hand into a rectangle (about 8×6″). Fold a long edge into center and press seam down with heel of your hand. Fold opposite edge over to meet in center, pressing seam. Fold in half along seam , prfessing edges to seal. Put seam side down on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Brush tops of loaves with egg (chill remainder) and let stand a few minutes until egg feels dry. Cover with kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at room temp. until almost doubled and feels almost springy when gently prodded , about l-l/2 hours.
Preheat oven 425 with rack in middle. Brush top of each loaf with egg again. Holding a pair of scissors at a 45-degree angle make snips along top in a line down center of each loaf. Transfer to oven and immediatley reduce temperature to 400. Bake until loaves are dark golden brown, 20-30 mins. Transfer to a rack to cool.

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