Cracked Black Pepper/Parmesan Brioche
Makes about 30 dinner rolls
15 minutes to put together/15 minutes (+/-) to cook; allow 2 hours proofing time
To make the sponge
2 c. warm water (110 degrees)
¼ c. sugar
2 Tbs. heavy cream
2 Tbs. active dry yeast
1 c. all-purpose flour
To finish dough
2 c. flour (plus several more cups as needed)
1 Tbs. table salt
2 egg yolks
1 stick softened sweet cream unsalted butter (sliced)
1 Tbs. black pepper, table ground
½ c. finely grated parmesan cheese
To finish the tops
½ stick sweet cream unsalted butter (melted)
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1½ Tbs. fresh cracked black pepper
Mix the sponge ingredients together in the bowl of your stand mixer. Once activated, the sponge should be batter like in appearance. Allow to sit until it becomes active (bubbly and begins to rise). This may take up to 15 minutes.
Using the dough hook of your mixer (on low speed) add the flour and egg yolks. Continue to add flour until mixture begins to pull away from sides and creates a dough ball. Add softened butter and repeat with flour until it once again pulls from the sides into an elastic ball no longer sticking to the sides. Finally add the finely grated parmesan. Place the dough into a larger hand-mixing bowl and cover with plastic.
Proof the dough ball in a warm and moist environment (80-90 degrees) until it has risen nearly twice in size. This may take only a few minutes or an hour depending on how warm and moist your kitchen already is. One method of doing this is to place a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of your oven with the bowl of dough on the top rack. (Leave the oven off.)
Gently punch the dough down after it has risen and roll into 1½ inch rolls (golf ball size) and place on nonstick cookie sheet with 3 inch gaps (or into muffin tins). Allow to proof again until doubled in size. Bake at 350 degrees until golden and a skewer comes out clean when poked through the center (about 12-17 minutes as ovens vary). While still hot, brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with cracked black pepper and kosher salt.
Needs: Stand mixer with dough hook, measuring cups and spoons, large hand mixing bowl, kitchen thermometer, cookie sheets or muffin tins, and oven.