brioche, part 1

I keep a little notebook where I write down recipe ideas. It’s pretty much one giant, very well annotated, to do list. Or, more accurately, “to make” list. Brioche has been on the list for months now, and while other items have long since been crossed off, for some reason, brioche has stayed. I’ve made plenty of brioche at Canto 6, but sadly very little at home. 
The magic of brioche comes from an unreasonably high proportion of butter and eggs incorporated into a basic yeast dough. The butter and eggs give brioche a cake-like richness, while the yeast and flour give it the texture and beautiful aroma of fresh bread.

I love brioche. It’s hands down my favorite of the Vienoisseries (classic breakfast pastries like croissants.) And lucky for all of us, it’s by far the easiest one to make at home. Like any bread dough, it just requires a little time and attention. A stand mixer with a dough hook is essential here. 

There’s so much you can do with brioche: spiraled with chocolate, jam, or cinnamon; sugar coated; individual buns; whole loaves; wrapped around brie; etc. Once you master the dough, there’s no limit to the different shapes and flavors you can try. All those overwhelming possibilities are part of what kept brioche in my journal instead of on my plate; I couldn’t decide where to start.
This recipe is my home kitchen adaptation of the one we made at Canto 6. I opted for a classic brioche for its debut on Simmer: individual buns, some plainly egg washed and some sprinkled with sugar. I used traditional French fluted brioche tins, which you see from time to time in kitchen supply stores, and can be found here. Individual brioche can also be baked in muffin tins or free-form on a sheet pan. Brioche is the perfect weekend project – make the dough on Saturday and bake them off for Sunday brunch. Leftovers can be frozen or warmed and eaten through the week. Makes 12 individual size brioche or 2 loaves. Enough to feed 6-8. 

360g, 2 ½ c + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
36g, 3 tbsp granulated sugar
120g, ½ c whole milk
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
5g, ½ tbsp dry active yeast
10g, 1 tbsp warm water
6g, ½ tbsp salt
172g, ¾ c unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1 egg for egg wash
granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Place the flour, sugar, milk, eggs, and yolks in the bowl of standing mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on low speed until well combined, 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, hydrate the yeast with the water in a small bowl to form a paste. Using a rubber spatula, spread the yeast on the dough and mix an additional 4-5 minutes on low speed. Add the salt and mix to incorporate, about 1 minute. Turn the mixer to medium-low (speed 2) and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and gathers around the hook – this should take 10-15 minutes. Essentially, you’re having the mixer do the work of kneading the dough for you here – developing protein and structure before you add all that butter. Once the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl (see photo above), add the butter and continue mixing on speed two until the butter is fully incorporated and the dough once again pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 5-10 minutes.

Place the brioche dough in a clean well-oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Set in a warm place (I usually use the back of the stove) and let sit at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the brioche from the refrigerator and punch down the dough. Dump out onto a floured work surface and divide into 12 even pieces, 2.25 oz each.
Roll each piece of dough into a ball using the palm of your hand. Place each ball into greased brioche or muffin tins (or just place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper)*. Cover with a clean dish towel and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, 1-2 hours. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Once risen, lightly brush the brioche with beaten egg and sprinkle with course sugar (optional). Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool 5-10 minutes and then enjoy with jam and coffee. 

*To make a loaf, simply arrange 6 individual balls in a greased loaf tin. Let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, egg wash and sprinkle with sugar, and then bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes.

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  3. Thanks! I’ll check it out – What’s your screen resolution? The site is 770 px wide, so you would need at least that size to view it. Opera is the only browser I don’t have on my computer, but the site is ok on firefox, safari, and ie.

  4. This will definitely be on my brioche resource list, Alex. I have a Thermomix and because I firmly believe no tool or gadget should replace what we do by hand, I ensure I can do everything I make in my Thermomix by my own hand, confidently, first… then I use it to speed up my work and make my time in the kitchen easier… sometimes, I knead my own bread just because I love to – but, I would never make it every day, as I do – if I didn’t have my Thermomix. Thus, brioche making is much easier when I use it. I have a post that was going to come out yesterday on brioche, as I have just started making my own in August after learning how at my Atelier at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris this summer… so I am still in the baby phase recipe wise. I have only tried two. One had much more butter, was much softer and stickier, and so much more delicious than the first recipe I am posting… so, I will try yours, next.

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