Brioche Doughnut HELP

3
0
Joined Mar 25, 2021
Hello Chefs! After lurking on here for over a year I thought I’d make an account and see if anyone had some thoughts or guidance to help me out.

I’m opening a restaurant (1 month to go!) and brioche doughnuts are a specialty of ours. I’ve been working on this recipe since 2019, and it has gone through 3 professionals to make it work on a larger scale (2 with doughnut experience and our kitchen manager with dough experience and new to the fryer)

the original recipe is Thomas Keller’s
Brioche doughnut recipe from Bouchon Bakery cookbook - we’ve tweaked the recipe overtime and changed the way it’s made (handling of dough, etc) but the doughnuts seems to be getting worse! I want a nice light fluffy brioche doughnut. While I had a consistent crumb and size of doughnuts, the doughnut would be dense, not light and fluffy. After working through it with professionals, it is marginally fluffier (almost the same) but now there are inconsistencies, odd shapes, gas holes, weird holes in the crumb...

I am hoping someone could take a look and provide some guidance or thoughts to the below.

1. original recipe was the Thomas Keller brioche doughnut recipe. We moved from 100% bread flour to a 80%-ap/20% bread flour mix. We added diastatic malt (5 gms to 4x recipe). We decreased sugar then brought it back. Increased milk. We use SAF gold yeast. We add preferment (from previous days dough) which enhances flavour and makes dough slightly softer and not as stiff.

2. handling of dough has changed. Mixing in 40qt planetary mixer, butter is added to all ingredients at the beginning (consensus is that as a fried dough it doesn’t matter when butter is added), salt is added after shaggy dough ball starts. Then 1 minute at power 1, 2 minutes at power 2, then back to 1 until it window panes beautifully. Then proof in a bowl IN the proofer covered with Saran for about 40 min-1 hour, punched down and put in fridge overnight (roughly 18 hours). Then taken out in morning, almost immediately put through dough sheeter, rolled out to exact height, punched in doughnut cutters and proofed in proofer on screens for 30 mins, 10 mins on counter, then fried at 375 for 3.5 mins. The results are not consistent, odd shapes, holes in crumb, etc.

previously I followed Thomas Keller’s recipe instructions to a tee - mixed, added butter in after, salt after that. Then proofed on counter for 1-1.5 hours, punched down and envelope fold, then another 1-1.5 hours later I punched down and envelope fold and put in fridge. Next day I would pull out and let sit on counter for 30-40 mins, then put through sheeter, roll out, punch doughnuts, proof for 40ish minutes, fry at 345 until golden - I got a consistent crumb but doughnut was dense and got denser as it sat. Or it might be nice and fluffyish and get denser as it sat.
Issue is, if the restaurant is frying doughnuts in the morning, they have to retain fresh fluffy feeling throughout the day.

it’s possible, I know it is, I love doughnuts and have had them all over the world. I’m getting frustrated because 2 years after I started, I’m still working on this recipe, and as a “home cook” my researched ideas are often dismissed as just that, home cook ideas. However all of these tweaks have made the doughnut worse, not better. I’ve tried to reach out to various chefs online but it doesn’t seem that many people want to help, even with consulting (which I’ve paid thousands for already...) I still don’t have the perfect doughnut.

I’m hoping that anyone here might have some thoughts or guidance. This weekend I want to run through a few batches on my own and figure this thing out. Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance for reading this!
 
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653
Joined Oct 31, 2012
Hopefully one of the pro bakers here can offer some useful baking advice. My question is why you discount your own researched experience. You are in charge and it's your show. If you think you have the answer or at least a worthy idea why allow it to be dismissed?
I'd go back to the original Keller recipe and begin tweaking from the start with what you think will work. Only you know exactly what you are looking for. And of course you are writing down all the variations and their results, yes?
Did Keller's recipe stay fluffy all day? Why did you pick that recipe in particular and then change it? I ask because my only observation is that perhaps the bread flour provides more gluten structure and that might help the doughnuts retain their fluffiness while AP flour does not. IDK, just a guess.
 
3
0
Joined Mar 25, 2021
Hopefully one of the pro bakers here can offer some useful baking advice. My question is why you discount your own researched experience. You are in charge and it's your show. If you think you have the answer or at least a worthy idea why allow it to be dismissed?
I'd go back to the original Keller recipe and begin tweaking from the start with what you think will work. Only you know exactly what you are looking for. And of course you are writing down all the variations and their results, yes?
Did Keller's recipe stay fluffy all day? Why did you pick that recipe in particular and then change it? I ask because my only observation is that perhaps the bread flour provides more gluten structure and that might help the doughnuts retain their fluffiness while AP flour does not. IDK, just a guess.
Original Keller recipe did not stay fluffy, so we’re trying to make it fluffier...
 

chefpeon

Kitchen Dork
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Joined Jun 15, 2006
So I assume you're making Keller's doughnuts because at some point you decided it was the ultimate doughnut, right? At least it was at one point? If so, why did you tweak it in the first place? Why would you spend two years on one recipe? I think in a lot of ways you're overcomplicating things.

I was able to find Keller's recipe and I read through it. One thing that jumped out at me was the notation that the doughnuts DO get denser as they sit. Is that the problem you were trying to solve when you started tweaking the recipe in the first place?

Another thing that jumped out at me was the mixing time of 30 minutes. It's true that all the butter in a brioche dough makes it very slack and it's slow to come together on the mixer, but still, 30 minutes seems excessive. Also in most brioche doughs that I've made, the gluten gets developed before you add the butter and you only need to mix it for about 5 minutes after all the butter has been added. Another thing was it seemed like the dough spent a lot of time on the bench at room temperature. The letter folds don't make much sense to me either. Why do a letter fold when you're not incorporating butter like in a croissant? I've done brioche feuilletee, where you actually do laminate the dough with additional butter and it sounds like you're doing a laminating action with no additional butter, so I'm not seeing the point of it at all.

After puzzling over this, I decided to google further, and I found a blog post from a pastry chef that had actually worked for Keller and made those exact donuts many times herself. She posted a recipe and I noticed that her methodology was different and fits more what I would be inclined to do as well. She doesn't do any folding, the mixing time is cut in half, and most importantly, she pulls the dough off the mixer and onto a sheet pan to go in the fridge overnight. NO bench time. NO folding. It sort of confirmed my initial concerns. Here is the blog post: http://www.mandymaxwell.com/blog/brioche-donuts

The longer the dough is on the bench, the more time to exhaust the action of the yeast present in the dough. It's like your running your dough out of gas before you even get it in the fryer. You want to maximize the power of the yeast to get a nice fluffy donut. So my advice is pretty simple. Keep the dough cold, reduce the mixing time (you only need to mix it til it's developed and that will take less than 30 minutes I guarantee you), skip doing the letter folds, and take the dough from the mixer directly to the fridge. You're eliminating unnecessary steps, and the dough will be easier to handle. Also, revert to the original recipe and forget about the ingredient tweaks you have made previously. I would suggest following the instructions on Mandy's blog post and see how that works out for you. I would be inclined to trust the instructions from the pastry chef that actually made them. The bottom line though is that all doughnuts deteriorate in a pretty short period of time no matter what recipe you're using. There really is no substitute for a doughnut a few minutes out of the fryer......why do you think Krispy Kreme is such a popular doughnut? Because they're frying them all day. They're so good because they're so fresh.

Edit: one more detail I noticed: You said you moved from using 100% bread flour to and 80% bread flour/20% pastry flour mix. The Keller recipes I found call for using AP only, so I'm wondering why you did that as well.

Please report back. I'd like to know if I helped to solve your issues.
 
Last edited:
138
28
Joined Dec 29, 2019
Hello Chefs! After lurking on here for over a year I thought I’d make an account and see if anyone had some thoughts or guidance to help me out.

I’m opening a restaurant (1 month to go!) and brioche doughnuts are a specialty of ours. I’ve been working on this recipe since 2019, and it has gone through 3 professionals to make it work on a larger scale (2 with doughnut experience and our kitchen manager with dough experience and new to the fryer)

the original recipe is Thomas Keller’s
Brioche doughnut recipe from Bouchon Bakery cookbook - we’ve tweaked the recipe overtime and changed the way it’s made (handling of dough, etc) but the doughnuts seems to be getting worse! I want a nice light fluffy brioche doughnut. While I had a consistent crumb and size of doughnuts, the doughnut would be dense, not light and fluffy. After working through it with professionals, it is marginally fluffier (almost the same) but now there are inconsistencies, odd shapes, gas holes, weird holes in the crumb...

I am hoping someone could take a look and provide some guidance or thoughts to the below.

1. original recipe was the Thomas Keller brioche doughnut recipe. We moved from 100% bread flour to a 80%-ap/20% bread flour mix. We added diastatic malt (5 gms to 4x recipe). We decreased sugar then brought it back. Increased milk. We use SAF gold yeast. We add preferment (from previous days dough) which enhances flavour and makes dough slightly softer and not as stiff.

2. handling of dough has changed. Mixing in 40qt planetary mixer, butter is added to all ingredients at the beginning (consensus is that as a fried dough it doesn’t matter when butter is added), salt is added after shaggy dough ball starts. Then 1 minute at power 1, 2 minutes at power 2, then back to 1 until it window panes beautifully. Then proof in a bowl IN the proofer covered with Saran for about 40 min-1 hour, punched down and put in fridge overnight (roughly 18 hours). Then taken out in morning, almost immediately put through dough sheeter, rolled out to exact height, punched in doughnut cutters and proofed in proofer on screens for 30 mins, 10 mins on counter, then fried at 375 for 3.5 mins. The results are not consistent, odd shapes, holes in crumb, etc.

previously I followed Thomas Keller’s recipe instructions to a tee - mixed, added butter in after, salt after that. Then proofed on counter for 1-1.5 hours, punched down and envelope fold, then another 1-1.5 hours later I punched down and envelope fold and put in fridge. Next day I would pull out and let sit on counter for 30-40 mins, then put through sheeter, roll out, punch doughnuts, proof for 40ish minutes, fry at 345 until golden - I got a consistent crumb but doughnut was dense and got denser as it sat. Or it might be nice and fluffyish and get denser as it sat.
Issue is, if the restaurant is frying doughnuts in the morning, they have to retain fresh fluffy feeling throughout the day.

it’s possible, I know it is, I love doughnuts and have had them all over the world. I’m getting frustrated because 2 years after I started, I’m still working on this recipe, and as a “home cook” my researched ideas are often dismissed as just that, home cook ideas. However all of these tweaks have made the doughnut worse, not better. I’ve tried to reach out to various chefs online but it doesn’t seem that many people want to help, even with consulting (which I’ve paid thousands for already...) I still don’t have the perfect doughnut.

I’m hoping that anyone here might have some thoughts or guidance. This weekend I want to run through a few batches on my own and figure this thing out. Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance for reading this!
Keller isn't a baker so .....
I worked at dunkin donuts 50 years ago, memory is foggy ...

Make brioche if you want brioche donut, no need to make big changes ,
just be aware you're losing butter and prematurely spoiling the oil.
Theres no need to weaken the flour, use straight bread flour .
Fresh cake yeast makes a difference, cold liquids, mix as normal brioche dough.
The ones I made blew up like balloons, I would use high gluten flour if I could get it where i am.
Make real brioche, no adding salt after the butter, where do they get this stuff from ?
Don't give it a rise in the mixing bowl, that isn't done anywhere by any baker.
Chill it as soon as its mixed, it will get the rise during the chill period, cover with plastic bag or damp apron to prevent crusting.
It sounds like first you have to make sure you're making brioche, then make a donut from it, with all the bizarre stuff going on in the method, its too weird.

Commercial raised donuts are just brioche but use shortening instead of butter.
8 oz shortening to 3 1/2lb bread flour.

Are you filling them?
Filling helps .
If no filling , dipped glazing would help.

I played around with some extra brioche dough a while back.
Do yours blow up like mine?
 
3,233
671
Joined May 5, 2010
I've used Keller's recipe at work.
Brioche dough needs to continue to knead after the addition of the butter. I'll turn the machine up a speed and allow the dough to slap around the bowl for 10 minutes or so. Like chef peon said, 30 minutes is a long time.
I also experimented with using cake flour in addition to bread flour and got better results.
 
138
28
Joined Dec 29, 2019
I've used Keller's recipe at work.
Brioche dough needs to continue to knead after the addition of the butter. I'll turn the machine up a speed and allow the dough to slap around the bowl for 10 minutes or so. Like chef peon said, 30 minutes is a long time.
I also experimented with using cake flour in addition to bread flour and got better results.
yeh 30 minutes is burning the yeast up and overheating the machine.
 

chefpeon

Kitchen Dork
788
205
Joined Jun 15, 2006
So just for fun, I decided to make Keller's Brioche Donuts, since I've never tried that particular recipe before. I used the recipe posted by Mandy Maxwell, as referenced in my earlier reply, above.

I followed the recipe exactly which is what I do before I decide if I need to futz with it. One thing I did notice is that the percentage of butter in this is higher than in my normal brioche recipe, so I will say that it did indeed take 30 minutes for the dough to come together on the mixer after all the butter was added, so for that, I apologize. 30 minutes sounded excessive to me based on my own dough, but for this one, it is necessary.

What an outstanding donut! I understand why you like this recipe so much. And it pretty much had the same kind of shelf life as any other yeast-raised donut......about 8 hours for best quality. So given that.....I'm failing to see why you're claiming to have so many issues, and it seems to me all the changes you were making were indeed making a problem where none existed before.

The donuts I made yesterday were wonderfully fluffy and soft, and the crumb even. Not dense in any way, and even 8 hours later, they were still pretty darn good. Sure, I made a small batch, but having fried hundreds of dozens of donuts in my career, there's no reason this wouldn't scale up well, or any need to handle it differently just because it's a larger batch.

Did you know you can partially proof the cut-out donuts, then place them back into refrigeration to hold until you're ready to fry them? You can create a donut schedule in which you always have donuts in the fridge waiting to go into the fryer to serve a la minute. And it only takes about 5 minutes total to fry them. There is no beating a fresh fluffy donut, no matter what recipe you use. If you want to wow your clientele, I'd think small batches made a couple of times a day would work pretty well. And if your kitchen schedule only allows them to be fried in the morning, they are still outstanding 8 hours out of the fryer.
 
3
0
Joined Mar 25, 2021
So just for fun, I decided to make Keller's Brioche Donuts, since I've never tried that particular recipe before. I used the recipe posted by Mandy Maxwell, as referenced in my earlier reply, above.

I followed the recipe exactly which is what I do before I decide if I need to futz with it. One thing I did notice is that the percentage of butter in this is higher than in my normal brioche recipe, so I will say that it did indeed take 30 minutes for the dough to come together on the mixer after all the butter was added, so for that, I apologize. 30 minutes sounded excessive to me based on my own dough, but for this one, it is necessary.

What an outstanding donut! I understand why you like this recipe so much. And it pretty much had the same kind of shelf life as any other yeast-raised donut......about 8 hours for best quality. So given that.....I'm failing to see why you're claiming to have so many issues, and it seems to me all the changes you were making were indeed making a problem where none existed before.

The donuts I made yesterday were wonderfully fluffy and soft, and the crumb even. Not dense in any way, and even 8 hours later, they were still pretty darn good. Sure, I made a small batch, but having fried hundreds of dozens of donuts in my career, there's no reason this wouldn't scale up well, or any need to handle it differently just because it's a larger batch.

Did you know you can partially proof the cut-out donuts, then place them back into refrigeration to hold until you're ready to fry them? You can create a donut schedule in which you always have donuts in the fridge waiting to go into the fryer to serve a la minute. And it only takes about 5 minutes total to fry them. There is no beating a fresh fluffy donut, no matter what recipe you use. If you want to wow your clientele, I'd think small batches made a couple of times a day would work pretty well. And if your kitchen schedule only allows them to be fried in the morning, they are still outstanding 8 hours out of the fryer.
The question remains - when scaled 8x or 16x the original recipe, there seems to be an issue with fermentation/proofing. How does the process work when 16x, still allow to sit for an hour only? I don’t know how to tell when bulk fermentation is done - I think it’s giving us inconsistency in proofing and frying. And what DDT should I aim for?
 

chefpeon

Kitchen Dork
788
205
Joined Jun 15, 2006
The question remains - when scaled 8x or 16x the original recipe, there seems to be an issue with fermentation/proofing. How does the process work when 16x, still allow to sit for an hour only? I don’t know how to tell when bulk fermentation is done - I think it’s giving us inconsistency in proofing and frying. And what DDT should I aim for?
In general the DDT (desired dough temperature), should be between 72F-78F. Brioche is higher though because of the long mixing time. Most likely you're looking at 82-85F.
You say there's an issue with fermentation/proofing......what is the issue? Or rather, how did you narrow your problems down to that? In regard to bulk fermentation, it's an important step, but less so with a rich dough like brioche. Bulk fermentation is key in developing flavor in lean doughs like sourdough, but not so much in brioche. In the summer, my kitchen, like pretty much everybody's, is very hot, so I would take the brioche off the mixer straight into the walk-in. I never noticed any difference in the outcome whether I benched it for an hour or if it went straight into refrigeration.

And whether you're doing 1 lb of dough or 50, the bulk ferment time is the same. Do you know how to calculate your water temperature?
Formula:
Desired Dough Temperature (DDT) = 78°F

Next, multiply the DDT by 3 (the number of variable temperatures other than water temperature that affect dough temperature: room, flour, friction).

78°F X 3 = 234°F. This is the Total Temperature Factor (TTF).

Starting with 234°F, the TTF, subtract the actual room temperature and flour temperature, along with the predetermined friction factor:

234
- 72°F (room temperature)
- 71°F (flour temperature)
- 28° (friction factor)
= 69°F (water temperature)

Finally, I don't know where you're located so I don't know what type of climate you are in. Often higher humidity conditions affect doughs quite significantly. If you are in a warmer humid environment, it's advisable that your ingredients be very cold (except the butter which must be pliable). You can better control your final dough temperature that way.
 
138
28
Joined Dec 29, 2019
The question remains - when scaled 8x or 16x the original recipe, there seems to be an issue with fermentation/proofing. How does the process work when 16x, still allow to sit for an hour only? I don’t know how to tell when bulk fermentation is done - I think it’s giving us inconsistency in proofing and frying. And what DDT should I aim for?
Its getting away from you.
Excess dough heat can be controlled by scaling the finished dough into manageable chunks.

Bigger batches of dough have greater ratio of internal dough to skin, thats to say volume increases by the cube but surface area only increases by the square. So a bigger batch will generate more internal heat for the same amount of proof time, just cut it into smaller chunks and throw it on sheetpans.
I would chill overnite for complete temp control.

Its simple physics, think of the dough as balloon.
As you inflate the balloon the inside of the balloon increases in volume faster than the surface area ,
its non linear, x3 vs x2.
 

chefpeon

Kitchen Dork
788
205
Joined Jun 15, 2006
Its getting away from you.
Excess dough heat can be controlled by scaling the finished dough into manageable chunks.

Bigger batches of dough have greater ratio of internal dough to skin, thats to say volume increases by the cube but surface area only increases by the square. So a bigger batch will generate more internal heat for the same amount of proof time, just cut it into smaller chunks and throw it on sheetpans.
I would chill overnite for complete temp control.

Its simple physics, think of the dough as balloon.
As you inflate the balloon the inside of the balloon increases in volume faster than the surface area ,
its non linear, x3 vs x2.
I agree with this. I was unsure exactly what your bulk fermentation problem was but I think R retiredbaker nailed it.
 

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