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Brioche pans are simple but decorative pans that are used to make brioche, a traditional bread originating in France. The pans are usually constructed with fluted sides, with a narrower base and a broader lip. In addition to preparing bread, a brioche pan can also be used as a mold for flavored gelatins and other desserts.
A brioche pan is normally constructed with some type of metal, usually stainless steel or aluminum. It is not uncommon for the pans of today to also include a non-stick surface, making it easier to remove the baked bread. The pans are available in several sizes, making it possible to prepare this simple French bread for a small family or for a larger gathering with equal ease.
Using a brioche pan is very similar to using any type of bread or cake pan. The French dough for brioche normally uses more eggs and butter than other types of bread. A light yeast is added to the ingredients. As a result, the dough will have a consistency that is very tight and solid. This is different from other types of breads that may have air pockets throughout the body of the loaf, and is excellent for use as buns or egg wraps.
Once the dough is prepared, it is placed into a brioche pan that has been lightly greased and floured. The pan is then placed into a preheated oven, and the bread is allowed to bake at the temperature and the duration specified by the recipe. When the bread is done, the loaf is turned out of the brioche pan to reveal a pleasant shape that appears to include alternating columns in the structure of the bread.
Taking proper care of a brioche pan is also similar to maintaining cake and bread pans. Pans without non-stick surfaces can be cleaned using a sponge or scouring pad while immersed in a mixture of hot water and a little dishwashing liquid. Non-stick pans can often be wiped out and then sterilized in a dishwasher or immersed in hot water for a few moments. Generally, it is a good idea to use a clean cloth to dry the brioche pan immediately after cleaning, taking care to thoroughly dry the flutes on the inside and outside of the pan.
Purchasing a brioche pan is very easy to accomplish. Any large retailer with a kitchen section is likely to carry at least a couple sizes of the pan. Kitchen shops will normally have a wider selection in terms of size and choice of materials. Restaurant supply stores are an excellent resource when larger pans are needed. While costing more than a standard loaf pan, the brioche pan does make it possible to prepare something a little different for special occasions.
I got some real brioche in a bakery in Seattle and it was wonderful. The pan really does affect the texture of the bread. It was tender, but compact. My friend and I split one with jam and butter and had coffee with it. I loved it, but I've never done a yeast bread either, and I'd hate to try it and then have it go completely wrong, not rise, whatever...
Brioche pan perdu (French toast) is also incredibly delicious. Makes me hungry just to think about it!
I've never tried brioche, although I love the pans and I think they are very decorative. I'm a little intimidated by yeast breads, so it may be a while before I have a brioche pan for anything but decoration in my kitchen.
I think if I ever do get a brioche pan, I'll definitely opt for nonstick. I think that just makes a lot of sense. There's nothing worse than something sticking to a pan when it's not supposed to.