Let Them Eat Brioche!

Let Them Eat Brioche!
Simple braided brioche loaf.
Ah, brioche. The buttery, eggy gorgeousness that somehow marries bread and cake. When I started baking breads at home, I overlooked brioche, instead favoring peasant loaves and baguettes, with their crusty exterior and airy interior. But after sampling some lovely brioche recently, I was again hooked and craved making my own.

This recipe is my first real attempt at brioche and I do believe I'll be updating/changing it as I continue baking. It started as a King Arthur recipe that I tried/updated in my own kitchen.

2 3/4 cups AP flour
1/4 cup dry milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tblsps sugar
3 eggs
1 egg separated (the yolk for the dough, the white for eggwash)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tblsp yeast
10 tblsps butter (room temperature)

Start by placing all of the ingredients (except for the reserved egg white) in the bowl of your mixer. Using the dough hook, mix the ingredients together until they form a uniform, shiny dough. This will take time, mine needed a full 20 minutes to transform from a shaggy mess into a smooth and supple dough. Remove the dough from the mixer, shape it into a ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for an hour.

After the first rise, you want to deflate the dough.  Pick it up, do a very gentle flatten, then reshape into a ball, return to the bowl and place in your fridge. It needs to wait there for at least a few hours, but even better overnight.

When you are ready to continue, you have a couple of choices. You can separate the dough into little balls, braid loaves, make sandwich rolls, or even do the traditional shape in little brioche pans. I chose to do a plain loaf and a braided loaf. No matter what you choose, don't be afraid when you pull the dough out of your fridge. It will feel dense. I was concerned when I pulled out the dough and shaped my loaves that there was nowhere near enough dough. It does rise quite a bit and the final texture is lovely and buttery, so don't worry. Just get your dough shaped and give it time (at least 2 hours) for its second rise.

I was certain I had done something very wrong.

But after a few hours, these babies certainly grow.
After the second rise, its time for the egg wash. You can mix the egg white with water or milk, and it is very common to sprinkle the top with sugar. To bake, preheat you oven to 350 F, and bake until the internal temp reaches 190 F, about 45 minutes. If it starts browning too quickly, cover with foil (mine needed foil after about 20 minutes.) If you are doing mini or individuals, you may want to up the temp to 375, and be watching closely. The smaller the bread, the faster it bakes.

When the brioche is done, pull it out and set it (pan and all) onto a rack. Let it cool for a few minutes before you pop the bread out of the pans and let them finish their cooling. Makes an excellent breakfast simply sliced and served with honey or jam, but leftovers make ridiculously good french toast or bread pudding.

Labels: , ,