Bread baking has always been my forte; I think back to when I was 7 years old and my mother turned over the duty of baking rolls for Thanksgiving to me and how excited I was to see everybody enjoying what I had made. There is just something so rewarding and actually, healthier in baking your own bread. My mother knew this and passed her wisdom on to me.
Brioche was not a bread she ever made. Probably, like bagels, it was not in the "mainstream" diet of a middle-class family like ours. However, when I had the opportunity to attend the CIA for pastry arts, I learned how to make this bread I had only had at fancy restaurants--it makes the best French Toast and Bread Pudding--and I was hooked. This bread is French in origin, with the first recorded baking date of 1404. It's said that Marie Antoinette was eating Brioche when she exclaimed, "Let them eat cake!" The high egg and butter ratio is what fits this bread more into a pastry category and gives it the light, airy texture with it's dark, flaky crust from the egg wash applied before baking.
Taking the scariness out of attempting Brioche is what I wanted to share with you today. The only time consuming aspect of this recipe is waiting between risings and, if you're lucky like my sister who raises her own chickens, the cost of a half-dozen eggs won't break the bank. In spite of that, it is a wonderful bread and I was thinking with these cold, dreary days it would be a delightful treat with a cup of tea by the fireplace.
6 large eggs
1 T. salt
1 lb. 2 oz* King Arthur all-purpose flour (Plain Flour)
5 T whole milk, (warm 30 seconds in the microwave)
1T + 1 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast or 1/2 ounce of cake yeast
12 oz. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used a higher fat content from a European butter)
1/4 cup superfine sugar (if you can't find this, place granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse several times to create a finer granule)
extra butter for the bowl and baking pans
1 egg yolk + 1 T whole milk for the egg wash
Equipment needed: stand mixer with a dough hook, loaf pan, individual Brioche cups or 1 large Brioche baking pan
- Day 1 - I usually start the process about 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon
Whisk the six eggs and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer, using a large balloon whisk. Place the bowl on the mixer with the dough hook. Turn the mixer on speed #2 and add the flour--(*if you don't have a scale to weigh your flour, it corresponds to approximately 3 1/2 cups + 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour). Continue mixing until a "dough" comes together.
Meanwhile, proof the yeast in the warm milk, then add it to the flour/egg mixture.
Next, mix the superfine sugar and the softened butter together in a small bowl. Start adding it to the flour/egg/yeast mixture, about a tablespoon at a time while the mixer is running on speed #2. This should take about 6 to 8 minutes to add gradually, allowing the butter mixture to be incorporated into the batter.
You will definitely see the "dough" change more into a "batter!" Use a spatula or scraper to bring the dough together and place into a large bowl that has been buttered.
Place plastic wrap over this dough and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours. I usually place a cotton towel over the bowl to hold the heat in.
Once the dough has doubled, gently, using a scraper, deflate the dough, turning it over. Add a fresh piece of plastic wrap, that has been sprayed with a baking spray, and place the bowl in the refrigerator over night for its cold rising. This rising is what brings the dough together and makes it less sticky!
- Day 2 - in the morning
Divide the dough in half.
I was baking a loaf and individual Brioches. With one half, divide into 8 pieces for a typical loaf of Brioche.
|Lightly roll pieces into balls, placed side by side|
Whisk one egg yolk with 1 T milk and lightly brush the balls. Place a piece of plastic wrap, that has been sprayed with a baking spray, over the pan.
The second half, I divided into 12 pieces so I could make a dozen mini Brioches.
Cut about 1/4 of the dough off each ball for the "top-knot". Roll the larger piece into a ball, then press an indentation into the center and place the rolled small ball into that center.
Brush these individual Brioches with the egg wash and cover them also with the plastic wrap that has been sprayed. Allow to rise until doubled in a warm place-- 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Place the egg wash in the refrigerator, covered, to brush again after this rising.
Just before the Brioche has fully risen, preheat your over to 350F-degrees. Lightly brush the loaf and individual Brioches with the egg wash, once again. Bake the individuals about 18 to 20 minutes until a dark, golden brown.
Continue baking the Brioche loaf about another 15 to 18 minutes, until it's also golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing...if you can resist.
In December, I was lucky enough to win a Give-Away on Knatolee's blog--honey and homemade soaps. I decided to make some honey butter to slather on my brioche with a cup of tea.
I wish you were all here to have tea with me and we'd chat about what the New Year will bring. I'll just have to close my eyes and imagine. Enjoy!