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18 August 2011


Brioche fresh from the oven

Brioche is a lovely rich bread from France, similar to challah. It has a lot of egg and a lot of butter and sometimes a little sugar. This is a recipe that I got from the King Arthur Flour website, and I just checked and it's still there along with some a lot of other amazing looking things! They give instructions for mixing in a stand mixer, but I don't have one, so below you will find the recipe and instructions for mixing by hand. You will need to plan ahead, because it needs a lot of rising time, it's easy to make the dough the day before you need it.

Today I made 1 1/2 of this recipe, and cut it in half so that I can have two loaves, one of which I will bake later. My loaf today does have a very eggy flavor, perhaps next time I will replace one egg with water. The first time I made this recipe a few years ago, I tried mixing in the butter with my wimpy hand mixer and it blew out the motor.  So now when I make it by hand, the butter doesn't get incorporated as well as with a stand mixer, and the final product usually ends up a little crisper and flakier than brioche that you buy in the bakery (if you're lucky enough to find it) and that is just the way I like it.

Brioche dough is a good base for making all sorts of sweet or savory rolls or loaves. There are recipes for cinnamon sticky buns or orange rolls that start with a brioche dough, so it's a good one to experiment with. You can make it in different sizes and shapes, like a nice braid or just in a regular loaf pan.

Brioche (from King Arthur Flour)

2 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1/4 c. water
4 eggs (perhaps try it with 3 eggs and add an extra 1/4 c. water)
2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. cold unsalted butter

Mix together 1 1/2 c. flour, yeast, water and eggs in a bowl until smooth. Cover and let rest for 30-45 minutes. It will bubble a little. Add the remaining 1 1/4 c. flour and salt and beat/knead for 8-10 minutes, dough should become smooth and elastic.

Place butter in between two layers of plastic wrap and beat with a rolling pin or meat mallet until it is soft and pliable, but not warm. Cut butter into pieces, fold by thirds into the dough, working quickly to try to keep the butter from melting. If it starts melting a lot and getting your hands greasy, pack up the dough into the fridge for a few minutes to chill, then knead gently again. It's okay for there to be biggish chunks of butter, but they should be well dispersed throughout the dough.

Form the dough approximately into a ball, place in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator for 4-16 hours. It will firm up a lot and rise a little. Remove from fridge and work quickly (don't let the butter melt!) to form it into the shape you want it, I do an oval-ish loaf. Let the shaped loaf rise for 2-3 hours (I turn on the oven after 2 hours to start the preheating). Preheat oven to 375. Brush the loaf with an egg wash, if desired (beat egg with a little water and brush over entire surface), cut slashes if  that is needed for the shape you chose to make it. Bake for 45-50 minutes, outside should be dark golden brown. Let cool on a rack a couple minutes before removing from the pan to cool the rest of the way. Enjoy!

Brioche with jam

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