Microwave Brioche : Gas Expansion and Starch Gelatinization : The basic idea behind bread

IMG_6457_CC_cc_rs

First of all, if you haven’t, please follow me on Instagram! 🙂 Brioche in the microwave… well… the soft tender interior that is. I came across this clever idea while browsing the book VOLT ink.: Recipes, Stories, Brothers at a Barnes and Nobles on 3rd street promenade in Santa Monica. Pretty awesome book I have to say, full of interesting ideas and new and modernists approaches to cooking as well as traditional. I haven’t bought it but it is definitely on my list. Although I got the idea from the Voltaggio brothers, the idea really probably originated a long time ago, way before I knew what brioche even was. I believe the creator of this technique and many others was one the pioneers of the modernist cuisine movement, Ferran Adrià, who used to run one of the most innovative kitchens in the world at El Bulli restaurant which at this time has been turned into a sort of food idea development center… he runs the recently founded restaurant called Tickets Bar in spain now. Back to the microwave brioche… the “gimmick” in itself is simple but only after understanding how it works. A light batter is placed inside a cream whipper which is then charged with nitroux oxide cartridges and leavened this way. The cream whipper will scatter thousands of tiny little bubbles of NO into the batter. There are 2 important principles at work here:

1. gasses expand when heat is applied

2. flour starches cooks at little under 212F (water boiling point at sea level)

_MG_6475_CC_cc_rs

These are the principles behind traditional bread too, only yeast does the work of creating the tiny bubbles that will eventually cause the bread to rise. Yeast does other wonderful things too, it ferments and imparts a very special flavor. Our modernist bread  recipe doesn’t, so the flavor isn’t as complex but it still works. I believe that this bread could be made with yeast in which case the cream whipper wouldn’t be necessary. I want to try this soon (and in a way I had when I made the Baozi buns).  Anyways, when the whipped batter is heated, the water heats up, causing the tiny bubbles to expand and on top of that, some water evaporates increasing the expansion of what ends up looking like a nice yummy sponge. There won’t be any browning or crust of course. Caramelization can only occur well above the water boiling point temperature which is what is reached inside the microwave (fats in a microwave will heat up to much higher temperatures than 212F, please do not try to heat up a cup of oil in the microwave, it is dangerous. It will get extremely hot.)

One important thing to keep in mind, the sponge will deflate a bit while still in the microwave oven. This is something that wouldn’t happen to bread in a real oven (it does happen but at such small scale is not really noticeable) because the starches have been given enough time to set. Once our bread deflates a bit it’s a good sign that microwaving time is enough and the brioche is ready.  Gasses and water vapor have left the bread. Further microwaving would dry out the bread. 

_MG_6444_CC_cc_rs

Gear:

Blender
Isi Cream whipper
2 NO cartridges
a few paper cups
small spatula or butter knife microwave

Ingredients:

200g AP flour
2 eggs
50g unsalted butter
4g kosher salt
50g sugar
150g milk

_MG_6450_CC_cc_rs

Prep a paper cup (I had multiple ones ready just in case, there is enough batter for a few tries). You can butter the inside of it or oil it so the bread doesn’t stick. It has been suggested that you puncture holes on the dixie cup, but after some testing, I don’t see much of a difference in the textures. Perhaps the sponginess of the brioche cooked in the punctured cup was better, but I have to run more tests.

Blend all the ingredients together and strain (if it isn’t too thick otherwise just don’t)  into the cream whipper canister.  Then load it with 2 cartridges of nitrous oxide. shake really well. We want 2 cartridges because the batter is thick and it isn’t easy to whip gas into it. One cartridge wouldn’t have enough pressure to achieve that.

Fill cup half way with mixture, I recommend half filling one cup at a time because like crepes, the first one is always thrown away. But in this case you want to test different times until your brioche is just right. Every microwave is different so you will have to test and fine tune! how fun!

I microwaved the cup for about 1 minute and a few extra seconds but yours could take more or less time. Immediately take out of the microwave and flip upside down, if you oiled or buttered the cup, the bread will slide right off. Be gentle when handling it, it’s a very delicate sponge. If you didn’t oil the cup, you will need a spatula to help you extract the bread from the cup, it will be slightly stuck in it. Hope you found this useful or at least interesting! As always, your input is highly valuable!  Until the next one!

_MG_6496_CC_cc_rs

_MG_6492_CC_cc_rs