Baking Day 8: Brioche Dough

This was my first time making brioche dough from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. I was hoping to make the brioche dough specifically for the Brioche au Levain, but that recipe calls for proofing the dough overnight and I wanted to bake bread that would be done by the end of today. The option that didn’t require overnight proofing was brioche dough for Hot Cross Buns, but I added my own little twist on it.

The recipe calls for a LOT of butter. Like a 2:1 ratio of flour to butter. After mixing the flour, yeast, milk, eggs, salt and sugar for about 34 minutes, I added the butter pieces a few pieces at a time. I noticed that the butter wasn’t incorporating that easily into the dough. I’m wondering if maybe the butter was too hard? The recipe didn’t specify what texture the butter should be…

The recipe in the cookbook calls for dried currants and dried cranberries but I opted for chocolate chips instead of the dried fruit. I honestly despise any sort of dried fruit in my baked goods. Blegh! I forgot to knead in the chocolate chips and went straight into the stretch and folding of the dough. I let the dough proof for 45 minutes, repeated the stretch and fold and then proofed for another 45 minutes. I then divided the dough into 12 equal pieces and rolled each piece into balls.

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At this point I noticed that the buttery dough is SUPER greasy and doesn’t feel at all similar to any of the dough I’ve previously made. Rolling the dough into the ball shape was a lot easier than I had anticipated. At this point, I think I botched the recipe along the way but I won’t be sure until they’re done…

The buns went into the oven preheated at 350F for about 27 minutes. The tops of the buns were very golden brown and on the harder side due to the egg wash that I had brushed on. Once the buns had cooled a bit, I tried one and I was really amazed at how delicious the brioche turned out! Very fluffy and buttery with slightly melted chocolate chips in every bite, yum! My one complaint, again, was the top being a bit hard but I think if you add icing on top it’s supposed to soften the top part of the bun. I opted for no icing because I figured the brioche would be sweet enough without it but I think it would have definitely tasted better either with icing or with more sugar in the dough. Overall I was really impressed with this recipe! I thought I had messed up but the end result proved that this recipe is easy to follow and results in buttery fluffy brioche buns!

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Recipe for Brioche Dough for Hot Cross Buns (Adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook)

Brioche Dough

  • 372 g All-purpose Flour
  • 8 g Instant Yeast
  • 44 g Granulated Sugar
  • 9 g Fine Sea Salt
  • 186g Eggs
  • 63 g Whole Milk
  • 167 g Unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ cubes

Hot Cross Buns

  • 183 g Guittard (or Valhrona) Chocolate Chips
  • 3 g of Vanilla Paste
  • Brioche dough (recipe above)
  • Egg wash
  1. Place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix for about 15 seconds to distribute the yeast evenly. Add all of the remaining dough ingredients, except butter, and mix on low speed for 4 minutes. Continue to mix on low speed for 30 minutes.
  2. Add butter a few pieces at a time, incorporating each addition before adding the next. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and push the dough off the hook. Continue to mix for 10 minutes.
  3. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Run a bowl scraper around the sides and down to the bottom of the bowl of brioche dough to release the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, adding flour only as needed to keep it from sticking.
  4. With your hands, gently pat the dough into a rectangular shape. Pour the chocolate chip mixture onto the dough and knead it into the dough (which will be sticky) to distribute it evenly. Pat the dough into a rectangle again.
  5. Stretch the left side of the dough out and fold it over two-thirds of the dough, then stretch and fold it from the right side to the opposite side, as if you were folding a letter. Repeat the process, working from the bottom and then the top. Turn the dough over, lift it up with a bench scraper, and place it seam side down in the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and let the dough sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.
  6. Repeat the stretching and folding process, then return the dough to the bowl, seam side down, cover, and let sit for another 45 minutes.
  7. Spray the quarter sheet pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
  8. Use the bowl scraper to release the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into 12 equal portions (78 grams each). Cup your fingers around a portion of dough and, using the palm of your hand, roll it against the work surface to form a ball. Continue to roll until the dough is completely smooth. Repeat with the remaining dough. (When you become proficient at rolling with one hand, you can use both hands and roll 2 portions at a time.) Set the balls on the prepared pan in 3 rows of 4. Brush the tops with egg wash.
  9. Cover the pan with a plastic tub or a cardboard box and let proof for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the balls have risen and are touching.
  10. Preheat the oven to 325 F (convection) or 350 F (standard).
  11. Brush the tops of the buns with egg wash again. Bake for 17 to 22 minutes in a convection oven, 25 to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until the tops are a rich golden brown and, when tested with a toothpick, the centers are baked through. Set the pan on a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  12. The buns taste best if eaten on the same day but can also be wrapped tightly in saran wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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KUSAKABE San Francisco

I just got back from the Bay Area, and I had the pleasure of staying in San Francisco for a couple of nights. My mother was visiting as well and she requested sushi for dinner so after a bit of research I came across KUSAKABE. The head sushi chef at KUSAKABE, Chef Nori, previously worked at Nobu New York & Miami Beach and Sushi Ran in San Francisco. In 2014, he opened KUSAKABE, a kaiseki style sushi restaurant.

The entrance to the restaurant is unassuming, with a green curtain leading to the front door and blinds covering the windows. The ambiance of the restaurant is swanky, with a beautiful wooden sushi bar as well as some table seating. We were lucky enough to get seated at the sushi bar and we opted for the regular Omakase course ($98). There is also a Grand Omakase course for $165. The Omakase course is as follows: Ichiban Dashi, Sushi Prelude, Sashimi, Hassun, Soup, Seasonal Sushi, and Sushi Finale. My mother and I both ordered a glass of the Richard Grant Cuvée Brut Rosé, which was fruity, sweet and a little dry, and it was the PERFECT rosé for our Omakase course.

The Ichiban Dashi was fine, nothing to write home about. Our second course started with Zuke Chutoro (soy sauce cured blue fin medium fatty tuna) followed by Hirame (konbu cured halibut with its own liver), and Katsuo (lightly cherry wood smoked bonito). The Katsuo was one of my favorite nigiri of the night. The subtle smoky flavor was aromatic and complemented the perfectly fatty fish topped with the momiji oroshi (grated daikon radish with chili peppers), which added a hint of spice. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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Zuke Chutoro

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Katsuo

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Hirame

The second course was our sashimi, with Honmaguro (center loin bluefin tuna) and Kanpachi (greater amberjack), which was probably my least favorite course. Neither fish really stood out and I honestly prefer my raw fish with sushi rice.

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Our third course, Hassun, included a Japanese style oyster with French daurenki caviar and five kinds of chef’s assorted les petit plats. The five les petit plats included seared Kamasu (Japanese Barracuda), Softshell Crab Nanbanzuke (fried softshell crab in a sour sauce, served cold), a deep fried Wagyu Croquette, Shirako (Japanese Tai snapper milt), and Hotaru ika (firefly squid). Out of the dishes, I really enjoyed the Nanbanzuke, Kamasu, and Wagyu Korokke. The Shirako was good, but I always feel weird eating fish testicles T_T. I didn’t like the Hotaru ika because it was too fishy and the oyster was fine but I wouldn’t order it again.

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Our fourth course, the soup, was an Akadashi, Kyoto style red miso soup with Kamo Dango (duck meatball), lotus root and soy cream foam. The soup was unique, I’ve never had creamy akadashi before and the lime zest added the right amount of citrusy aroma. The Kamo Dango stole the show in this course. Fatty with no gaminess and the crunch of the lotus root resulted in a perfect meatball.

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Our fifth course, seasonal sushi, included Shima Aji (stripe jack with daikon oroshi and yuzu kosho), Kasugodai (bamboo leaf cured young red snapper topped with grated sweet egg yolk), and Sakuramasu (Japanese cherry salmon with cherry leaf). The Shima Aji had a pristine, clean flavor. Being a yuzu lover, I enjoyed the yuzu kosho topping which didn’t overpower the flavor of the Shima Aji. The Kasugodai was good, albeit, a little sweet due to the egg yolk topping. The Sakuramasu would have been great without the cherry leaf. The cherry leaf (sakura no ha) is commonly used in a Japanese mochi dessert called Sakura Mochi. Since I associate this flavor with the sweet mochi, I didn’t like the combination of the cherry leaf combined with the salmon.

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Shima Aji

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Kasugodai

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Sakuramasu

Our final course of the night, sushi finale, included roasted Ariake Nori Temaki and a final serving of Toro (low temperature aging Bluefin fatty tuna belly). The Ariake Nori Temaki was filled with Bafun Uni (Hokkaido short spine sea urchin) and ikura. This was my least favorite sushi piece of the night. The Bafu Uni, while creamy, had a faint ammonia smell which I couldn’t stand. I have a very sensitive sense of smell so others may not find it as bad, but I CANNOT eat any uni that has that smell/taste. Blegh! I initially thought that was our last piece and I was so disappointed to have to end on a bad piece but we were pleasantly surprised when we were handed the Toro. The fatty tuna, having been aged, had an incredibly tender texture. So so so good.

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Ariake Nori Temaki with Bafun Uni and Ikura

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Toro

I really liked Chef Nori’s style of both rice and Gari. The rice in the nigiri is served semi warm and is on the tangier side with no sweetness. I assume Chef Nori uses little to no sugar in his sushi rice. The Gari (pickled ginger) was also quite tangy and had almost no sweetness to it.

The excellent service, GREAT sushi, and the glass of rosé I had puts KUSAKABE in the top 3 best sushi experiences I’ve had in the US. The ONLY reason why it may not be number 1 was because of the Bafun Uni. Overall I highly recommend this restaurant for any special occasion or if you’re in town looking for great sushi. It is on the pricy side but much more affordable compared to high-end sushi places in Manhattan or LA.

KUSAKABE – 4.5 out of 5 stars

584 Washington St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
Financial District

Ph: (415) 757-0155