Sunday, December 18, 2011

Baked Brie

My first baked brie was based on an appetizer served at Reading, PA’s somewhat famous Peanut Bar*.  The Peanut Bar version was a brie en croute, a small brie wheel baked in phyllo with nuts and drizzled with honey. It was delicious but it was served with only a few crackers and begged for more bread. Shopping with my mom, we found similar wheels of brie at BJ’s and decided to marry them with frozen bread dough since I didn't then and don’t now have the patience for home made yeast bread. The first one exploded in the oven. The following recipe has been tweaked over the years and is beloved by many.

To make you need:

1 6” diameter brie wheel** plus one loaf worth of frozen bread dough. 12” diameter brie would need two loaves worth of dough. Pillsbury French or Italian loaf in a can works well as does Wegman’s pizza dough since it is nice and bready. Trader Joe’s pizza dough is gross, don’t ever use it. Puff pastry is traditional but I think it ends up too greasy.

Also honey, salt and fruit of choice, I like grapes.

  1. Thaw dough and let rise in an oiled bowl based on package directions.
  2. Allow cheese to come to room temperature. Cold cheese has caused dough to be brown on the outside and raw on the inside on more than one occasion.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F or whatever temperature your package of dough suggests.
  4. Punch it down and form into a circle. (Don’t use flour, you want the dough to stick together and seal in the brie.)
  5. Place brie wheel in center of dough wheel and wrap like package by joining opposite ends.
  6. Place brie seam side down on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. This is critical. Even if you follow the next step to a tee the brie can still explode and leak out the side. The parchment will keep exploded brie from sticking and the rim will keep it from dripping all over your oven.
  7. Pierce the top of the dough penetrating into the rind of the brie a few times using a small knife. You can make a pretty pattern if you are feeling festive or just poke at random. 
  8. Bake according to dough package instructions, which will be something like 30-40 min at 350F.
  9. Baked brie is finished when it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. (Or when an instant read thermometer reads about 190F when inserted in the bread part.)
  10. Remove from oven and drizzle immediately with honey and sprinkle with salt.
  11. Allow brie to cool for at least 30 min to an hour before serving or molten cheese will run everywhere.
  12. I like to garnish with grapes for a party but it also goes well with White Bean Sausage Soup on a cold day.
 *Back then the Peanut Bar kitchen was run by my dad's friend Judy Henry. She is no longer there and now has a nearby restaurant Judy's on Cherry.
**I typically use President brie wheels. You can use Camembert or other brands but keep in mind that you would loose the nuance of a higher quality brie once you wrap it in dough and drizzle it with honey. If you can’t find wheels you can use wedges. I cut the wedge into two equal triangles and marry the longest sides to make a rectangle then wrap and bake as before. 

Here are the baked brie's I made for Christmas. One exploded, one didn't. Good times were had by all!

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