Brioche

Sometimes you need a soft, buttery bread with a little sweetness that just melts in your mouth to help you take your mind off of all of the things you have to get done. This brioche is the bread you’ve been looking for. No joke.

I really love brioche. It’s so great because if you have a stand-mixer with a dough hook, it’s astonishingly easy to make, while still tasting like a million bucks. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. You’ve gotta trust me on this one.

For those who don’t know yet, or for those who just want to revile in the beauty that is brioche, brioche is a soft, buttery bread that has a hint of sweetness to it. It’s so soft that brioche bread almost feels like a pillow (not exaggerating). Oh, and the best part about it is that you don’t need anything fancy to eat it with, just some good, old butter and maybe a little jam. That said, it’s also great because of its versatility (which is good for those, like me, who have poor decision-making skills). Brioche can be easily made into French toast (it’s soft texture will easily soak up and retain the milk, egg, and cinnamon goodness), a fantastic grilled cheese, bread pudding, and can even be used to make croutons (who knew?!). Long story short, you really can’t go wrong with brioche.

So, I wasn’t just kidding about the whole, you need a stand-mixer to make this bread thing, you kind of do. The first time I made brioche, I didn’t have one. I just thought, “Well, it’s no big deal! I make bread all the time without a stand-mixer,” but boy, was I wrong. While it’s not impossible to make without a stand-mixer, the wet, sticky dough that’s characteristic of brioche is extremely hard to work with and handle. If you’re not used to working with a super sticky dough, it could get everywhere and become quickly overwhelming.

This is what the dough looks like after it’s 7 hours in the fridge. It’s a very soft dough because of all of the butter.

If you still have your heart set on making it without a stand-mixer, you’ll need to use a bench scraper, or if you don’t have that, a metal spatula, when kneading the dough. So, yeah, my life basically got 1000x better when I got a stand-mixer.

Now onto the exciting bit, the actual making of the brioche! Whenever I use this recipe (another one from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake), I always cut it in half because otherwise, it makes a HUGE loaf. A huge loaf is great for if you’re having people over for dinner or something, but if you’re just making this for yourself, cutting the recipe in half is perfect.

There’s only one problem when it comes to cutting this recipe in half and that is the fact that the whole recipe calls for 5 eggs. This means that if you want to cut it in half, you’ll need 2 and 1/2 eggs (yay, math!). Hmmm. How do you do half an egg? Whenever I run into problems like this with cutting recipes in half, I break out my handy-dandy digital kitchen scale. I crack an egg into a bowl on the scale, beat it, and see how much it weighs. Then I just take out half of the egg’s weight and use that for the brioche. (You can save the other half to make some scrambled eggs, or some French toast with your soon-to-be, freshly-made brioche. There’s a thought!)

That’s the only funky part that comes up when cutting this brioche recipe in half, but I do have one last note on making this. Because brioche has a fair amount of sugar in it, this means that it will brown quicker than most breads. Don’t let it fool you into thinking that the brioche is done before it actually is. You have to outsmart the bread!

Does this proved dough look like a flour to you, or is it just me?

After your bread has been in the oven for about 16-17 minutes, it’ll start to have a very deep dark brown color (anymore brown and it’ll be considered burnt). It’s at this point that you’ll want to take your bread out of the oven, put a piece of aluminum foil over the top (to prevent the top from browning anymore) and pop it back into the oven for the remaining baking time (3-13 minutes).

And that’s all she wrote. See? Like I said, this bread is no biggie!

Here’s the recipe to make one large loaf of brioche:

Makes one, very large loaf | Total Time: 11-12 hours

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams bread flour
  • 7 grams salt
  • 50 grams sugar
  • 10 grams dry, active yeast
  • 40ml warm water
  • 100ml warm milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 250 grams unsalted butter, softened

Directions:

Step 1: Mix 1 tsp of the sugar into a bowl with the yeast and warm water. Let this sit for about 10 minutes allow the yeast to activate. When ready, the mixture will be foamy on top.*

Step 2: In the bowl of a stand-mixer, pour in the flour. Then place the salt and remaining sugar into one side of the bowl and the yeast mixture into the other side. Add in the eggs and warm milk and then with a dough hook attached to the mixer, mix on low speed for about 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, bump up the speed to medium and continue mixing for another 6-8 minutes.  By the end of this, you should have a soft, elastic dough. Add the softened butter and mix for another 4-5 minutes on medium speed. You will want to scrape down the bowl, every once in a while, to make sure the butter is thoroughly incorporated into the dough. After this, the dough will be very soft.

Step 3: Place the dough into a plastic bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 7 hours, or overnight.

Step 4: Grease a deep cake tin (I like to use a large spring-form pan) and place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan to help you get the bread out after baking.

Step 5: Take your dough out of the fridge and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. To knock out any air in the dough, fold it in on itself a couple of times, and then cut the dough into 9 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball by placing it on the work surface and making a cage with your hand around the top of it with the tips of your fingers making contact with the work surface. Then move your hand in circular motion, rotating the ball of dough rapidly, and this should create a smooth ball. Place 8 balls of dough around the outside of the pan and the ninth ball in the middle.

Step 6: Place the pan into a clean bag and leave to prove for 2-3 hours, or until the dough has risen to just above the rim of the pan.

Step 7: Preheat your oven to 375º F. Once the oven is fully preheated and the bread proved, bake for 20-30 minutes. Due to the sugar in the bread, it will brown quicker than most breads. If the bread takes on a very deep brown color before the baking time is over, place a piece of aluminum foil over the top to prevent further browning. Once fully baked, remove the bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack before digging in.

*If your yeast doesn’t need to be activated, omit this step and the 40ml of warm water. Add 40ml more of warm milk in place of the warm water.

Happy baking!:)

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