We were in New Orleans.
Not an optimal time to visit, but, my husband was presenting at a conference and we’d never been and friends had interesting restaurant recommendations and, there we were; melting just a little bit and eating some of the best food I have ever had.
Like the sweet potato brioche rolls at Bayona.
Chef Susan Spicer shares her recipe on line and in her cookbook, and… I cannot tell a lie; this is a kindofa fussy recipe, but, the end result is well worth the bit of fuss!
Ms. Spicer makes her brioche into small rolls, and suggests using buttered muffin tins. I was just uncertain of my handling of the recipe enough that I just baked mine in a loaf pan – which kinda overflowed as it baked so… next time (and there will be a next time), muffin tins it is!
•2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
•2 tbsp warm (110º) water
•1 tsp plus 2 tbsp sugar
•1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
•5 eggs plus 1 beaten egg
•1/4 cup milk
•3-1/2 cups flour
•1 tsp salt
•1/2 lb cold butter
•3 tbsp maple syrup
•3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
•1 tsp vanilla
•1/4 tsp kosher salt
First things first, make the maple butter (this is what they serve with the rolls at Bayona) by whipping the butter together with the maple syrup, vanilla, and kosher salt until nicely blended. Cover and stash in the fridge – we’re gonna be a while…
Peel and cube the sweet potatoes, then bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add one tablespoon of salt to the water along with the sweet potatoes and boil until tender, about 20 minutes did it for mine.
Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool in a large mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment.
Place the yeast and one teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl or beaker, then add the warm water, stir to combine, then set aside to rest for ten minutes or so, until the yeast is nice and foamy.
Note: looking over my notes and the recipe, I believe that I used too much mashed sweet potato. The original recipe called for one cup of mashed, then went on to add that that would be (approximately) one large or two small sweet potatoes. I considered my sweet potatoes to be on the small side, so just prepped and mashed the two of them without measuring. My brioche turned out fine, but took quite a bit longer to bake than the recipe called for, and, of course, overflowed the loaf pan, so I think I can safely say that it was the extra mashed sweet potato. However many sweet potatoes you cook, measure the mash and stash any extra in the freezer for the next batch – you will be wanting to make this again.
Beat the sweet potatoes in the mixing bowl for one minute, until smooth, then measure out your cup of sweet potatoes and stash the rest in the freezer.
Return the cup of sweet potato purée to the mixing bowl along with the eggs and the foamy yeast mixture.
Beat for one minute.
Add the flour, the other two tablespoons of sugar, and the teaspoon of salt and mix for five minutes, until you have a smooth but sticky dough.
Cut the cold butter into small pieces and then, about a third at a time, beat into the dough.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise at room temperature for about and hour or so – until the dough has doubled in size.
This is a good time to remind you that you are the boss of that dough! You need to go out and do something? No worries! If the dough has risen and you aren’t back to deal with it in exactly 60 minutes, it will still be there, and fine, when you can get around to it. I mean, we are not talking days here, but a couple of hours here and there are not gonna cause you any trouble.
When you do get back to the dough, peel back the cover, close your hands into fists, and punch the dough down, gently, you are not trying to knock the dough out, just release any air pockets and reduce the volume of the dough.
Recover the bowl and stash the dough in the fridge for at least six hours or overnight.
Yeh. I told you it was a kinda fussy recipe, but, brioche will not be rushed.
Six hours later, the next day, whatever, remove the dough from the fridge and heat your oven to 400º.
To be honest, I thought the recipe was a bit unclear on this next bit…
It called for “scooping” the dough into a buttered loaf pan, brioche mold, or muffin tin (use a 24 muffin tin, this recipe should give you about 20 rolls), which I did, but I am wondering if I should punched it down a bit first? Or mebbe it was just I had too much mashed sweet potato.
Loosely cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to rise until the dough has doubled – another hour or so.
When ready to bake, lightly whip the last egg, then brush over the surface of your brioche and prick the surface with a toothpick in a couple of places.
Pop it into the hot oven for ten minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325º and bake for another ten minutes for individual rolls or 20 more minutes for a loaf pan or brioche mold, until golden brown.
Note: again, because I think I used too much mashed sweet potato, my bread took about 40 minutes after I reduced the oven temperature before I thought it well and truly baked. I used the “thump” test, lightly rapping the top of the loaf with my fist, When it sounded hollow after thumping, I judged it ready.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for ten minutes before turning the bread out of the pan and allowing to cool completely.
One nice thing about my brioche overflowing the loaf pan was that I could break off a bit of the overflow and sample it, warm from the oven, with a dab o’ the maple butter. Nice!
We thoroughly enjoyed the brioche, lightly toasted, with the maple butter and my hommage to turtle soup (recipe to come) – another New Orleans treat.
The next evening, I toasted more of the sliced brioche, then added mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, onion, and maple roasted bacon to make most excellent BLTs.
We still have some brioche left… I’m thinkin’ French toast topped with fresh peaches tossed in Cointreau.