Monday, January 27, 2014

Buttery Brioche

Have you ever had brioche? It might just be the best bread ever. It's buttery and flaky and dense and amazing, but what makes it really great is how versatile it is. You can bake it in a loaf and make sandwiches out of it or you can stuff it or roll it with sweet fillings and make pastries with it. It also makes great cinnamon rolls. If you ever see 'brioche' anything on a menu, go ahead and order whatever it is. Sandwich, pastry, whatever. You'll be glad you did.

My first attempt at baking brioche did not go well at all. About a year ago I tried to make some brioche stuffed with chocolate and it just didn't turn out. I don't know what I did wrong, but my bread didn't rise and I was left with a sad excuse for a pastry: a sad, small, greasy lump that was oozing chocolate. I mean, that didn't stop me from eating them, but that's a different story.

So I decided it was time for another go. This time I thought it best to just make a loaf of brioche. No filling, just simple, buttery deliciousness. I have to say, I was very pleased with the results. It is a bit of a long process, but the steps themselves are simple (as with most bread making). This isn't the sort of bread you should eat all the time; no one needs all that butter. But every once and a while it's a great treat. Now that I have mastered the process, I'm itching to try a myriad of brioche concoctions.

Get ready for awesome bread. Your whole house will smell like butter as the bread bakes, which is, without a doubt, the best smell in the world. (Side note: why hasn't that been made into a perfume? If I could smell like butter and sugar all the time, I think I'd have more friends. I'd probably have to beat them away with a stick). Grab a slice and spread Nutella on top and prepare to be amazed. Or whip up a batch of French toast that might just be delicious enough to bring about world peace. Whatever you do with your bread, you'll be happy, trust me.

I got my recipe from the Joy of Cooking. I find it best to go to Joy when I'm cooking a classic.

Brioche Loaf (from the Joy of Cooking)


1/3 cup warm whole milk (I used 2%)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm milk and yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast has dissolved. Note: the yeast will not bubble and foam. I was deterred by this, but it's fine. It just needs to dissolve into the milk.

Add 1 cup of your flour, eggs, sugar, and salt to the milk and yeast mixture. Mix on a low speed. Gradually stir in the remaining flour. Mix for about 5 minutes, until all of the ingredients are blended. Use your dough hook to knead dough for 7 to 10 minutes on low speed. Knead until the dough cleans the side of the bowl.

Turn the mixer to a medium speed and gradually add your butter in small clumps. Knead the dough until all of the butter is incorporated.

Place the dough in a large, buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough and knead briefly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours. If the dough has doubled, punch down and shape it. If not, let it finish rising in a warm place, then punch it down, refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then shape.

Now, I didn't do a great job shaping mine. I just kind of threw it in a loaf pan. Martha Stewart suggests separating your dough into 8 equal pieces and rolling them into balls, then placing those balls in your loaf pan side-by-side. That's what I would do. I think you'll get a more even loaf.

Brush your loaf with egg wash and place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake until deep golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.


1 comment:

  1. Wow! Beautiful! I think I can smell it from here.