Water-proofed bread - BBB, a.k.a Beautiful Brioche

My daughter came in the house after school, took one whiff of the air and started begging for a piece of fresh bread.  I must say, this bread perfumed the house wonderfully.  She took one bite of bread, the heel no less, and literally started screaming.  "Oh my gosh, this bread is so awesome!!"  I haven't had a reaction quite that exuberant in a long time.  After her third piece, she claimed it as her after dinner treat.  She is still begging for more.  What makes the Bread Baking Babes so cool is that there are so many recipes I never would known or chosen, but for their monthly challenge and roundup.  This gorgeous, golden, brioche like loaf has a pillowy, tender, moist, and almost cake-like texture.  R says it is like cake to her.  Stellar outcome from a rather unique method.  The dough is proofed under water.  And it was very happy to do so.  Plunk the sticky dough onto a floured tea towel, wrap, secure and submerge.

Forty minutes later, it was bobbing around like a merry old cork.  The stoneware bowl really held the heat well.

I thought I would be smart and sprayed the towel with sunflower oil before flouring it, to minimize the inevitable sticking.  It kind of worked.  I should have done the whole towel and not just a large square because whatever dough expanded beyond the edge of the treated area, stuck like sticky dough on an un-floured towel.  In other words, glue.  But actually, when I took my bread scraper to the edges, as soon as I got past that couple-inch perimeter, the middle section peeled right off.  Still, it was a fun experience no matter the mess.  Once turned out onto a well floured new towel, it turned into the softest, velvety dough ever.  I love how that stuff feels to work with!

I did use only half the yeast that the recipe calls for and my bread practically exploded once I put it in the oven.  I was tempted to let it proof longer and crest the pan a bit, but remembered that these were smaller portions of dough and doubled at just barely reaching over the top.  The poke test showed they were ready.  I did a lengthwise slash and they were ready to bake.  I also tossed in a small cup of water when I put the loaves in, and another small cup about two minutes later, to steam the loaves at the beginning.  And that bread just took off!

I am hoping that the bread ages well, I think brioche is noted to dry out quickly.  Otherwise, it will make some divine french toast!  Here is the recipe as written in the host kitchen's post.  Kudos to Feeding My Enthusiasms for picking a fun and yummy challenge!

My slight changes:  I used half the yeast, rapadura sugar, and more flour due to the hydration needs of spelt and kamut.  I reduced the salt by ½ tsp, but would be happy using the full amount or at least 1¾ tsp next time since I used unsalted butter.  I also mixed with my bread machine.  Not the full cycle, but enough to get the dough smooth, silky and perky while still being sticky as expected.  My pans were 8x4 and just perfect for my dough.  I wouldn't want to use the larger size.  The timer was set for 30 minutes, but my nose told me the bread was done with 4 minutes to spare.  Beautifully golden brown all over.

Water-Proofed Bread
from Beard on Bread, 1973
makes two loaves

2 packages active dry yeast (I used 2 tsp instant yeast)
½ cup warm water (100 - 115ºF, approximately) 
¼ cup plus 1 tsp granulated sugar 
½ cup warm milk 
1 stick (½ cup) butter 
2 tsp salt 
3 eggs 
3½ cups all-purpose flour (I ended up using about 4½ cups as I was using spelt and kamut and my farm eggs were positively jumbo!)
More flour for the tea towel 

Rinse a 4-quart mixing bowl with warm water. Dry thoroughly. Put in the yeast, the ½ cup warm water, and the teaspoon of sugar, and stir until the yeast dissolves. Allow to proof for 5 minutes. 

Heat the milk with the butter and ¼ cup sugar until lukewarm, then add to the yeast mixture. Add the salt and stir to blend well. Add the eggs, one at a time, and again blend thoroughly.  

Then stir in 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, to make what will probably be a very wet and sticky dough. Stir quite vigorously. 

Spread out the dough on a working surface - a table, a piece of marble, or a board - sprinkled with the additional ½ cup flour. Use a baker's scraper or large spatula to work in this last portion of flour and make the dough firmer. Scrape under the flour and the dough, lifting and folding inward. Repeat until the flour is well incorporated. When the dough is easy to handle, begin kneading by hand.  

Continue until the dough can be shaped. (The process of kneading first with the scraper and then by hand is very effective for delicate dough. In this case the dough will remain rather sticky, but don't worry about it.)

Lift the dough, pat with flour, and place on a clean kitchen towel also sprinkled with flour. Wrap it and tie it in the towel, just as you would a package, but very loosely. Submerge this packet in a large bowl filled with warm water (about 100 - 115ºF, approximately). It will sink. Let sit for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until it rises sufficiently to float on top of the water.  Lift the dough from the water and let the excess water drip off.

Unwrap and turn out on a lightly floured surface. Again it will be quite sticky, so scrape off any dough that adheres to the towel. Knead and shape into two loaves, using both dough scraper and your hands. Thoroughly butter two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans and place one loaf in each pan. Cover, put in a warm, draft-free place, and let the dough rise slightly above the tops of the pans, or until almost doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Brush the dough with cold water, and if you like, make a slash in each loaf with a sharp knife. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when rapped with the knuckles, top and bottom. When done, place the loaves directly on the oven rack, without their pans, to brown the bottom a little more and crisp the crusts. (Mine did not need this step.)  Cool on racks. 

This post will go up for Yeastspotting!


  1. Wow! What great loft you got! Well done. And that's really interesting to hear that spraying oil on the teatowel worked as a buffer between dough and teatowel.

    If I were you, I'd double bag the extra loaf and put it in the freezer to stop it from going stale.

    Many thanks for baking with us!

  2. Those really are beautiful big loaves!I agree with your daughter...this is a very cake like bread and rich. Freezing the second loaf might be just the ticket...if your daughter left any for that. Thanks for baking with the Babes!

  3. Wow, that is some beautiful looking bread! You get that huge rise using only spelt and kamut flours??

  4. Yes, I used I think about 1 cup of whole grain kamut and 3½ cups of spelt. Now my spelt flour was light spelt, but my hildegarde's spelt bread did that too and it was all whole grain spelt. The brand I am using is Vitaspelt. ☺

  5. What beautiful loaves! Thanks for baking along with the Babes!

  6. Looks so great! I love how much it expanded for you and how much your daughter loved it.

  7. Beautiful loaves! Yes it was a favorite here too with the kids!

  8. Wowzer! Gorgeous loaf and whooper of a rise! My playing with spelt has always surprised me but I'd say this takes the cake.
    Stale or fresh, this is beautiful bread, your daughter is so wise.
    Thanks for baking with us!


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