Bruffins with Ham and Cheese

~from Savoring Time in the Kitchen

Brioche dough (makes about 4 loaves) - Recipe can be cut in half - half recipe ingredients in parentheses.

1 1/2 cups (3/4 cup) lukewarm water
1 tablespoon (1-1/2 teaspoons) Active Dry, or Quick-Rise yeast
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons (1-1/2 to 1-3/4 teaspoons)  kosher salt
8 (4) large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (1/4 cup) honey
1 1/2 cups or 3 sticks (3/4 cup or 1-1/2 sticks) butter, melted
7 1/2 cups (3-3/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

For the Bruffins (makes 8)

1 pound of brioche dough
3 ounces of diced smoked ham
3 ounces of diced sharp cheddar cheese
1 small egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for the egg wash
8 pretty muffin liners, if desired

Mix the yeast, salt, eggs honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour, using a spoon until all of the flour is incorporated but do not knead.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about 2-2-1/2 hours. (If you use cold eggs the initial rise can be very slow. Using eggs that have come to room temperature helps.)

Refrigerate the dough overnight and use over the next five days. The dough can be frozen in 1 pound portions for 4 weeks.

On baking day (or when the dough has chilled for 8–12 hours), prepare two 12-muffin pans by spraying them with baking spray or your may use muffin liners. These rise quite a bit so it's best to use every-other muffin space, if possible.

Using floured hands, remove a 1 pound portion of brioche dough from the container (about the size of a cantaloupe melon).

Flour a work surface very well and turn the dough out onto it and dust the dough with more flour. It can be quite sticky. Roll or pat the dough into a rectangle, approximately 8 x 16" and about 1/2" thick. Add more flour if the dough sticks to the work surface.

Spread the diced cheese and ham evenly over the rectangle and then press them lightly into the dough. Fold the top third of the dough over the middle (your may need a large, floured spatula for this if the dough stick), then fold the bottom third up into a letter fold. Press the edges to seal them and roll the dough into another rectangle, about 3/4" thick.

With a knife or pizza cutter, cut along the short side to make 8 even strips. You may bake any scrapes on a baking sheet.

Take each strip and twist the ends in opposite directions a few times, then pick up middle of the strip with one hand and the ends with the other, lay the ends into the muffin cup first, laying down the middle on top with a another gentle twist.

Cover the muffin pans lightly with plastic wrap and let rest for about 1 1/2–2 hours or until doubled in volume.

About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375°.

Whisk together the egg wash and gently brush over the tops of the muffins.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, switching racks and rotating the muffin pans for even baking. Baking time with vary depending on your oven.

Cool in the pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Serve immediately or cool completely and refrigerate in a covered container. The muffins will keep refrigerated for about three days. Chilled muffins can be rewarmed in a 300 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Left-over dough can be used to make brioche bread, muffins or sandwich buns. Filling with cinnamon sugar will make a delicious sweet treat.

Inspired by an article on Bruffins in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day