This brioche is beautiful, delicious, and surprisingly simple to make.
Brioche is a wonderful bread — rich, fragrant and versatile. But classic recipes are complicated, often starting a day or two ahead and involving a pre-ferment, a long, two-part mixing/kneading session, and an overnight in the refrigerator.
It turns out all that fuss isn’t really necessary. We have developed a dough that works beautifully with the stretch-and-fold technique. This technique is fast and easy, and it preserves more of the flour’s natural flavor, so the brioche tastes great without the need for a pre-ferment or refrigerator time. It’s easy enough for beginners and is ready in just a few hours, but tastes like it was fussed over for days.
Brioche is delicious served for breakfast with butter and good jam, makes terrific grilled cheese or sandwiches, and can even be fashioned into gourmet hamburger buns. Enjoy!
Yield: One loaf, 8 x 4” / 20 x 10 cm.
Timing: Start this bread about 4 hours before serving.
|Milk, cold||½ C + 1 tsp||4.4 oz||125 g / 123 ml||50%|
|Instant yeast||1½ tsp||0.18 oz||5 g||2.0%|
|Egg, cold||1 large||1.8 oz||50 g||20%|
|Unsalted butter, cold||3½ T||1.8 oz||50 g||20%|
|Bread flour||1½ + 2 T*||8.8 oz||250 g||100%|
|Salt, fine||¾ tsp||0.16 oz||4.5 g||1.6%|
|Sugar||2 T||0.9 oz||25 g||10%|
|Additional egg, for glaze||1 T||0.5 oz||15 g|
*Measure by dipping the cup into a container of flour, then removing the excess with the flat side of a knife.
Equipment: Folding Proofer, bread pan 8 x 4” / 20 x 10 cm.
Get ready. Set the Proofer to 85 °F / 30 °C and fill the water tray half full with water. Put the cold milk, yeast and egg into a container and stir, then add the cold butter. Set the mixture in the Proofer to warm for an hour. Grease the pan with shortening or butter and lightly coat it with flour.
Mix the ingredients. Add the flour, sugar and salt to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Stir the milk mixture again to disperse the yeast and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough is uniform, with no dry flour or butter lumps.
Rise and fold the dough. Put the dough in the Proofer to rise. During the first 30 minutes that the dough is in the Proofer, give it three folding sessions. To fold, scrape a section of dough from the side of the bowl, lift it, and fold it to the center. Do this eight times for each folding session, rotating the bowl to work all of the dough evenly.
After the three folding sessions, allow the dough to rise undisturbed until it has doubled (reached a volume of about 4 C / 1 liter ) in 30 minutes more. Total rise time for the first rise is 60 minutes.
Shape the dough. When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and deflate it by gently pressing it down and forming a rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into three pieces (about 5.8 oz / 165 g each).
Shape each piece into a ball. To do this, gently stretch each side of the piece and fold to the center. After four stretch and folds, the dough should resemble a square. Next, stretch and fold the corners of the dough until a round shape is formed, being careful not to tear the dough. Turn the ball seam side down and allow it to rest while shaping the other two pieces of dough. Arrange the three rounds seam side down in the prepared bread pan.
Proof the bread. Place the loaf in the Proofer and allow it to rise for about one hour. In most pans, the loaf will rise a little higher than the rim of the pan. The loaf is ready to bake when a finger poked gently into the side of the dough makes an indent that springs back slowly.
Preheat the oven. While the loaf is proofing, preheat the oven to 350 °F / 175 °C, and lightly beat the egg for the glaze.
Bake the brioche. When the brioche has finished proofing, brush the top with the beaten egg and bake until nicely browned, about 25 minutes. If you are taking the internal temperature, it should read at least 190 °F / 88 °C. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the loaf by running a table knife around the edge of the pan, then unmold the brioche and finish cooling on a rack.
Alternative Shape – Braided Brioche
To make a braided brioche, follow the recipe as written above until it comes time to shape the dough. When the dough has finished its first rise, deflate it by pressing it into a rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into three long pieces (about 5.8 oz / 165 g each). Flatten each long piece and roll into a cylinder, pinching the seam to seal.
Press the three pieces together at one end, then braid by bringing alternate outside pieces to the center. Press the ends together at the end of the braid to seal, then arrange in the bread pan. Proof, glaze and bake according to the recipe, above.