Brioche – Beautiful, Buttery Brioche

Now that Food Photo 101 is started, I still don’t want to stop cooking and talking about cooking. With that, I realized I still haven’t posted about the bread I made for the wine party we had a couple of weeks ago.

The foie gras I made gave me the opportunity to try a new kind of bread, brioche. What is brioche? For those that don’t know that it’s a little slice of buttery heaven, here’s a formal definition:

bri·oche /ˈbrioʊʃ, -ɒʃ; Fr. briˈɔʃ/ Pronunciation KeyShow Spelled Pronunciation[bree-ohsh, -osh; Fr. bree-awsh

n. A soft, light-textured bread made from eggs, butter, flour, and yeast and formed into a roll or a bun.

Really, that lists things in the wrong order; butter should be the first thing, because this bread is loaded with it! There’s almost as much butter as there is flour in this recipe.

Brioche

I made the Rich Man’s Brioche, though there were 2 other versions, each with different levels of butter, adding other dairy to compensate (and be less costly when butter was harder to procure).

Rich Man’s Brioche

from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
Sponge
1/2 cup unbleached bread flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm whole milk

Dough
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg, whisked until frothy, for egg wash

Sponge
Place the flour and yeast in a large mixing bowl and stir together. Add the milk and stir, until the flour is completely hydrated. Let the sponge ferment for 20 minutes, covered with plastic wrap. The sponge is ready when the bowl is tapped and the sponge rises and then falls.
Starting brioche dough
Brioche Dough

Dough
In the same mixing bowl, add the eggs and beat on medium spead until it’s smooth. When I say to beat something with the mixer, I’m using the paddle attachment, not the kneading hook. Separately, put the flour, sugar and salt, and stir it. Add to the sponge and eggs, then mix for 2 minutes. The gluten needs to develop, so rest the dough for about 5 minutes. Start mixing again on a medium setting and add the butter, 1/4 of the total amount at a time. Each time butter is added, mix until it’s blended into the dough before adding more. Continue to mix for about 6 minutes more. As the dough mixes, the butter causes it to stick to the sides of the bowl; stop the mixer and scrape this down periodically. The dough ends up soft and smooth and really clingy.
Brioche dough

The recipe says to line a sheet pan with parchment to put the dough onto here, but I sprayed the inside of a gallon ziplock bag and put the dough in the back instead. I put the dough in the refrigerator overnight then.

In the morning, I took the dough out of the fridge, and quickly formed 2 balls which went into fluted pans, and one loaf that went into a regular bread pan. I worked quickly, as the recipe says to work the dough when it’s cold. I also used nitrile gloves to keep the dough from sticking too badly. I filled the pans so they were only about half full, allowing room for the bread to expand while proofing.

Broiche in pans

After the dough was in the pans, I lightly sprayed it with some Pam and covered with plastic wrap. After a couple of hours, the dough had about filled the pans, and I brushed the egg wash over the top of the loaves of dough and recovered for about 30 minutes, about when the dough had doubled since going into the pans.

Brioche Proofing

The recipe called for the oven to be preheated to 400 degrees F for petites brioches. I didn’t make these, so I set it to the lower setting of 350 degrees F. I actually preheated the oven well before the dough was ready, so that my Hearthkit would be up to temperature, too. I baked the brioches for 15 minutes, turning it around at 10 minutes for even browning, then checked to see if the bread was done. It took about 4 more minutes until it got to where I liked the color.

I immediately removed the bread from the pans and put the loaves on a cooling rack. I cut into one of the fluted loaves to try it. I almost wish I hadn’t! It’s just too good.

This is the stuff that makes me realize that the French really do know how to use an oven… I was already a fan of French breads, but this is over the top! It was easy to make, actually, and didn’t take any kneading at all, just shaping and proofing after it rested over night in the refrigerator. I’ll be making more of this!

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.

12 comments

  1. Lucky me — my husband has become a champion brioche maker. We’ve used it in a sinful bread pudding, and best of all, in the most decadent French toast I’ve ever tasted!

  2. Lydia, it was kind of fun to make; it’s just amazing how much butter is in it! I bet it makes great French toast, too. I do know it grills really well, with no added butter.

    I may need to make some French toast with this now, thanks to you. :)

  3. I really wish I lived in the neighborhood, Curt – I’d beg you to give one of these!
    The larger one, of course. :)

  4. Patricia, I actually like the smaller ones; the crust is really nice, and the smaller ones have a higher ratio of crust to crumb.

    One of my next brioche attempts may include a muscovado sugar and cinnamon stuffed version, I think.

  5. Looks great, Curt! I’ve never made it at home…partly because I prefer to be in denial about the amount of butter in the bread! I eat it often because a popular breakfast in Sicily is brioche with granita or gelato!

  6. Nicole, that sounds like a great breakfast! You’ll have to take the tradition to CA with you.

  7. Thank you Curt. I’ve always wondered if Brioche could be made in pans other than brioche pans. I couldn’t justify the expense of buying them in case I didn’t like my results. Heard others have used tin cans (but thought that was not the healthiest option either). Your pics and tutorial are superb and have given me the kick in the hiney to make these finally. Have a nutrionist and well when she sees what I did (she gets my daily menus), I will be scolded but alas, I think when I see her again I’ll just bring in one for her and if she chooses to miss out and toss it than that’s her loss. I’ve heard many peeps swear that broche is great as french toast too. I use day old italian bread and have a great Denny’s French Toast Recipe if you want to try it sometime. Oh and in my quest for the most divine oatmeal cookies, I will be making your Aunt Irva’s cookies too. Wow, and to think I just stumbled upon your blog linked to someone elses blog note. Yippie!

  8. Lisa, I’m glad you found your way here. I really liked the brioche in the regular loaf pan, and it would make great French toast. I’ve used Challah before for it, and I really like Alton Brown’s method, though it takes planning ahead the night before.

    Tell your nutritionist that a slice won’t kill you. :)

    I don’t know if Aunt Irva’s cookies are truly divine, but I really love them.

  9. This recipe is almost identical to Julia Child’s brioche, except a tad more milk, sugar and more than double the butter. All the brioche recipes I’ve made so far say to let the dough rise the first time at room temperature in a butterered bowl with buttered plastic wrapped tightly sealed until double 2 to 2 1/2 hours, then lift from underneath to deflate it and then replace the buttered plastic and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight rising the second time “en retard”. It’s supposed to make a finer crumb than just one rise and still rises to double again. The third rise happens when you form the dough in the tins.

    I’m new at brioche making so I’m asking if it’s a waste of time to add the extra room temperature rise step to your recipe.

  10. Thanks for posting this recipe! I was looking for a recipe for brioche that started with retarding the dough, used bread flour and had volume measurements. Not easy to find! This is a nice in-between from the recipes I was able to find in our home cookbooks. I don’t have a scale, so I can’t use the CIA’s recipe. I had a recipe from an OLD (probably now historical) Louis Diat cookbook which sounded overly difficult. The first thing is to drop the “sponge” as it’s called here into a bowl of warm water! I am pretty sure I would mess that up! Then Robuchon has an overly simplified recipe since the home cook can’t make it right anyway (wrong kind of oven), so don’t bother trying to do it the classical way, right?

    I am planning to (ultimately) make this for Mindy Segal’s banana bread pudding recipe. I tried finding brioche at the store and it was disappointing in size, texture and price. So, going to make it myself!

    Thanks, again!!!

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