by / Friday, December 9, 2011

50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #27 Anne Willan - Brioche

the "Gourmet" prompt...
27. Anne Willan- La Varenne, the culinary school in Burgundy that the English–born American Willan founded in 1975, has been moved to Southern California, but not before it spawned a couple of generations of culinary stars.

Once an associate editor of Gourmet and food editor of the Washington Star, she currently has a column in the Tribute Media Services International and writes for the New York Times.  She's written over a dozen books, including the popular Look & Cook series (step-by-step photos & instructions).  She has been a US citizen since 1973, but was born in Newcastle, England and received her Masters degree from Cambridge University.  She studies and taught in both London and Paris before moving to the US.  She is the honorary trustee of the Culinary Trust of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (and did serve as President at one time).*
adapted from Anne Willan's Classic Breads 
yield: 1 loaf

2½ tsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbs. water, lukewarm
5 eggs, lightly beaten
3½ c. all-purpose flour + more as needed
2 Tbs. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
6 oz. butter, at room temperature

1 egg
½ tsp. salt
Sprinkle yeast over water and stir.  Let sit until dissolved and frothy, ~5 minutes.

Add eggs, sugar, and salt.  Add 3½ cups of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until dough looks craggy.  

Tip out onto a floured work surface and knead until dough is soft, sticky, and elastic, ~10 minutes.  If dough is too sticky to work with, start adding in a bit more flour at a time until it is workable.

Grease a bowl and put the dough into it, turning so that the surface of the dough is lightly buttered.  Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled in size, 1-1½ hours.

Turn dough out onto work surface and gently knead in the butter.  Form back into a ball, place back in bowl and cover with plastic.  Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Remove dough from fridge and let sit on counter for a couple of hours.  Punch down and turn out onto work surface.

Divide dough in half, then divide each half into 4 fairly equal pieces (so, you'll have eight pieces total).  Roll each one into a ball (or cylinder-shape) and place in a buttered loaf pan (9"x5"), two cylinder sort of diagonally side-by-side all the way down (four balls staggered on each side, lengthwise).  Cover and let rise until dough almost reaches the top of the pan, ~45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400° F during last 15 minutes of rise time.

Whisk together egg and salt, then brush across top of dough to glaze.  Slide into preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a deep, golden brown on top.  Transfer to wire rack (tip out of pan as soon as you can handle it) to cool.
*source: LaVarenne

In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 women...one per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?

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Heather is a Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, dark beer, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.


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