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Brioche, rich with butter and eggs and just slightly sweet, is a yeast bread that is golden on the outside and feathery soft and rich on the inside. Slice a loaf of brioche and eat plain or toasted, spread with a fruit jam, or made into French toast. Brioche can also be baked in fluted brioche à tête molds to create a fluted round with a small ball of dough on top to form a “head.” I have used this same brioche dough to make Brioche Cinnamon Rolls and Brioche Coffee Cake.

Because of the long beating times and all the butter used, this is a dough best made with a heavy-duty stand mixer along with both the paddle and dough hook attachments; it would be a difficult dough to make by hand without the mixer. I normally use bread flour but bread flour or all-purpose flour work equally well in this recipe. Make sure you allow ample time when making this recipe, for the mixing, rising, and refrigerator times. The nice thing is you start the dough the day or evening before, refrigerate the dough overnight, then finish the rolls the next day.

Brioche is made with a starter sponge of milk, yeast, a bit of sugar, and flour. This process gives the yCakeeast a nice head-start in the fermentation process. The ingredients are mixed together and then allowed to sit at room temperature for 45 to 60 min. When the sponge begins to rise and get bubbly you know it’s ready to be added with the rest of the dough ingredients. Breads made with a starter sponge generally rise higher when baked, have a lighter crumb and a richer flavor.

This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread. Or, divide the dough in half and make one brioche loaf and one other treat such as Brioche Coffee Cake.
Recipe type: Yeast Bread
Serves: 2 Loaves
Small amount of softened butter for preparing pans
  • ½ cup warm milk, preferably whole milk (110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 package active dry yeast Tip: use quick-rise yeast for faster rise time
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (62-65 degrees) Tip: Test the temperature with an instant read thermometer. It is important for the butter to be at the proper temperature when making brioche dough. Butter that is too cold will not incorporate into the dough. Butter that is too warm will make the dough oily and greasy.
Egg Wash:
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine warm milk, yeast, and sugar; stir until yeast is dissolved. Add flour, stir until mixture is smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sponge sit in a warm place until doubled in size and the mixture forms bubbles, 45 to 60 minutes.
  1. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk or fork, add the sponge mixture, 1 cup of the flour, and salt. Using the paddle attachment beat on low speed to start blending the flour, then add the additional 2 cups of flour and blend until mixed. increase the mixer speed to medium speed and beat 2 to 3 minutes until well mixed and smooth.
  2. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, scraping the dough into the center of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook attachment and beat the dough on medium speed for 15 minutes, stopping the mixer to scrape the bowl and hook occasionally. Tip: During this long mixing period the dough should come together, wrap itself around the hook, and slap the sides of the bowl. Don’t skimp on the 15 minutes, this is what helps give brioche its fine texture.
  3. Add the Butter: Switch to the paddle attachment and reduce the mixer speed to medium-low. Add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. With each addition of butter continue mixing until the butter is incorporated into the dough before adding the next addition. Tip: When the butter is being added the dough will seem to fall apart. But don’t worry the dough will come back together with continued mixing in the next step.
  4. When all of the butter has been added and incorporated into the dough, switch to the dough hook, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for about 5 more minutes. Tip: During this mixing period the dough should again come together, wrap itself around the hook, and slap the sides of the bowl. The finished dough should feel somewhat cool and be soft and maybe a little sticky. Don’t worry if a bit of the dough is sticking to the bottom or sides of the bowl.
  5. First Rise: Lightly grease a large mixing bowl using either softened butter or vegetable shortening. Place dough in the greased bowl.
  6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise is a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  7. Second Rise and Refrigeration: Punch dough down to deflate, while dough is still in the bowl place your fingers under one side and lift to fold the dough over onto itself. Fold this way another 3 or 4 times. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 to 6 hours or overnight, or up to about 16 hours. The dough will rise and may double in size again while refrigerated, and the dough will become very firm as it chills.
Pan Preparation:
  1. Prepare two 8 or 9-inch loaf pans, butter the bottom and sides of the pan with softened butter.
  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut in half. Cut each half of dough into 4 equal-sized pieces, then roll each piece into a log about 4 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan.
  2. Brioche Dough
  3. Third Rise (Proof:) Cover pans with plastic wrap and let dough rise is a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. Tip: The dough should be about doubled in size, fills the pans, and look quite puffy. Rising time will depend on how warm the room is.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Egg Wash:
  1. Whisk the egg with a wire whisk or fork to thoroughly break-up the egg. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with a light coating of the egg. The egg wash will give the finished bread a golden-brown crust. Tip: clean the sides of the pastry brush against the side of the egg wash container so the brush is not too sodden. You don’t want to have puddles of egg wash, but instead just a light coating.
  2. Bake: Bake the loaves for 20 to 30 minutes or until the loaves are a rich golden brown, sound hollow when tapped, and the internal temperature reads 180 to 190 F using an instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature. Check the temperature at 20 minutes, then bake longer if needed.
  3. Remove loaves from oven, turn loaves out of the pans onto a wire cooling rack to cool.
Sources: Yard, Sherry, The Secrets of Baking, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 2003; Greenspan, Dorie, Baking with Julia, William Morrow and Company, New York, 1996; Malgieri, Nick, Bake, Kyle Books, 2010
Recipe Notes
Pan: two 8 or 9-inch loaf pansPan Prep: Buttered Oven Temp: 400° Storage: Tightly Wrapped at Room Temperature

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