There is nothing so quintessentially French as a good old brioche loaf or, more traditionally, brioche à tête with their little circular tops.
True brioche should rich and golden enriched with butter and eggs. The crust should be thin, and within it should be a soft dough.
One thing I hadn’t realised before I tried to make it was that the dough require quite a great deal of working. As a result, it is much easier if you try and use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment or prepare yourself for a strenuous arm workout like the one I had to go through… I do suppose it helps to burn some of the calories that you will obtain from eating such a rich bread though!
The point of this post though, is to try and reassure that French classics like brioche aren’t too bad at all. Just give yourself a good amount of time on a weekend afternoon since it is best to slow prove this dough in the fridge overnight-the more this dough is kneaded/left to prove, the better the result!
Please do give this recipe a try (I have included some of the tips I found useful whilst making it) and let me know how it goes!
- 2 x 500g tins, lightly greased with butter
- 500g plain white flour
- 1 tsp table salt
- 20g fresh yeast or 10g dried
- 60ml whole milk; at room temperature
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 350g cold butter, cut into 3cm sized cubes
For the egg wash
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tbsp sugar and a small pinch of salt salt
- Place the flour into a (large) mixing bowl, add the salt and stir to combine the dry ingredients. Add the yeast to the warm milk along with the sugar and mix until the yeast has dissolved.
- Add to the mixing bowl with the beaten eggs. Mix at a low speed for at least three minute until well incorporated into a ball of dough.
- I found that the dough will be very firm, slight sticky to the touch and a pale yellow colour. With the mixer on slow speed, add the cubes of butter, one at a time, with a few seconds between each so that they are incorporated into the dough. (This stage did take a lot of time and patience is required as every so often you need to stop the mixer from time to time and scrape down the sides with a spatula to break up larger lumps of butter in your dough.)
- The dough should turn increasingly more elastic and glossy. It should subsequently leave the sides of the bowl clean. Turn off the mixer, scrape the sides of the bowl again with a spatula and cover with clingfilm. As per this traditional French recipe, a slow prove is best so leave this in dough in the fridge overnight. The resultant dough should be double the size of the original.
- Take the dough from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature (1-1½ hours). Form the dough into an oblong (or two if you are making two smaller loaves), trying not to overwork it lest you lose all the air in the dough. Place the dough in the tin (or tins). Brush with the egg wash. Leave the dough to prove for about an hour in a warm place, until well risen. Brush the dough with egg wash again and bake at 180C/gas mark 4 until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven; allow to cool in the tin before removing.