There are few things better than the buttery savory but sweet taste of brioche. If I had to describe it I would probably call it croissant in loaf form, just without all the fussy folding. Brioche dough does take a while to make, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a stand mixer at your disposal. The dough gets its texture from the kneading. Lots and lots and lots of kneading/beating. As where most breads will turn into bricks if you over knead them, this dough is different because it is loaded with butter. Beautiful, delicious, diet killing butter.
Ingredients you will need:
- 2 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 1/4 cups Bread Flour
- 3 1/4 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (or 1 1/2 envelopes)
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 1/2 cup Cold Water
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons Unsalted Butter (2 3/4 sticks) – room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces
Before we continue, it’s important to state a couple of things. Your butter needs to be unsalted or else this will be one very salty bread. Also, this recipe does not halve well because you wont have enough dough to engage the hook on your mixer.
In your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add both flours, active dry yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 eggs. Beat on low speed until all of the ingredients have come together – this should take three to four minutes. Once combined, continue to mix on low speed for 4 minutes. The dough at this point will be dry and looking perhaps a bit questionable and you may be cursing my name. Don’t fret! It’s supposed to look like this.
Next, remaining on low speed, start to mix in your butter one piece at a time. Wait for each piece to disappear into the dough. With my mixer there tends to be a clump of dough that doesn’t want to mix with butter so I have to take a spatula and scrape it off once or twice and sweep around the bowl to help things incorporate.
Once combined, continue to mix on low speed for 10 minutes. You may want to stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the mixer bowl just to ensure that the butter is combining well.
Once the butter is mixed thoroughly, beat on medium speed for 15 minutes. See, this is why we don’t make brioche without a stand mixer. 😉
After 15 minutes we are now almost finished mixing. Your dough should be silky, smooth, and glossy. Turn your mixer to medium high speed and let the dough slap around for 1 to 2 minutes. The dough should made a slap-slap-slapping sound. Once it’s done mixing, test the dough by pinching it. It should stay together, not be sticky nor dry. It will stay together when you go to grab it out of the bowl. If seems wet or loose, add a couple of tablespoons of flour and mix it until it comes together. If it comes off in chunks then it may need additional beating time – mix it for another 2 to 5 minutes.
Time for the dough to rest! Place it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure to press the wrap onto the surface of the dough. You do not want it to form a crust. In addition to the plastic wrap, I like to place a lint free towel on top as well, however you don’t have to if you do not wish.
Let this rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours or up to overnight. After 6 hours has passed you can move it to the freezer if you wish, it freezes *very* well for a week to two weeks. Just take it out of the freezer the night before you wish to use it an place it back in the fridge to thaw out.
Your dough will rise in the fridge as it rests. It should look something like this after 6 hours.
If you’re choosing to bake some bread after 6 hours or the next morning you will want to butter two 9×5 loaf pans liberally. Divide the dough into two even portions using either a bench scraper or a knife. The dough will feel cold and clammy and like Play-Doh. Pat the dough into a 9 inch square.
I usually place it straight onto a clean counter top and it will not stick – however, if you’re finding that you’re having trouble then I would try spraying the counter with a little bit of cooking spray.
Facing the square, fold town the top third of the dough towards you and continue to fold the bottom one third towards the top. Think about folding a letter. Pinch the seam and then place the dough seam side down into your pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap – I just a little cooking spray. Nothing worse than pulling plastic wrap off your risen bread dough only for it to stick and consequently deflate. I like to stick my loaves in the microwave (with it off of course) – it’s nice and draft free there.
Let these loaves rise for 4 to 5 hours or until they have risen about an inch over the top of the pan. Don’t let them rise for too long – one day I forgot about my brioche for about 7 hours and it kept rising and spilling. I baked them anyway and they weren’t terrible, but it’s definitely better to keep an eye on them.
Mine was a little lopsided today, but it’s still beautiful in my opinion. Food that’s a little ugly tastes better anyway!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the loaves with an egg wash – one egg that has been beaten with a tablespoon of water.
Bake the loaves for 30 to 35 minutes. If after 20 minutes you feel that they are getting too brown too quickly, I recommend tenting them with some aluminum foil. Just place gently over the tops and continue baking.
So, when all is said and done you have invested quite a bit of time into these loaves. But, let’s be honest, we didn’t do too much actual work, most of it was waiting! Let me tell you – it’s absolutely worth every minute! Brioche keeps well for 3 days stored at room temperature when wrapped tightly or saved in a large zipper bag. An absolute delight in the morning for breakfast with jam or nutella or just by itself!
Adapted from Joanne Chang, Flour