Brioche is a kind of bread with butter, eggs, milk, and often sugar added to it. The addition of these ingredients makes brioche more awesome than your average loaf of bread. It is more tender and cakey in comparison, yet still has the fluffy, lightly chewy quality of a leavened bread. This makes it really good for making sweet bready things like French Toast, and I use it to make the crostini for my ice cream sandwiches and for fried doughnuts.
- 10g Dry active yeast
- 100ml Milk
- 50g White sugar
- 5g Salt
- 2 Eggs
- 400g Hard flour
- 125g Butter, softened and divided into 75g and 50g
- Warm the milk to no more than 37°C. Sprinkle in the yeast and a scant teaspoon of the sugar portion. Leave it to go foamy.
- Into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a regular large bowl if kneading by hand), put the remaining bulk of the sugar, the flour, salt, eggs and the larger portion of soft butter.
- Pour in the foamy milk/yeast mixture, scraping any remaining yeast into the bowl as well.
- Set your stand mixer kneading, using a dough hook attachment. If you are hand-kneading your dough, mix the ingredients until they have just come together and turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
- Once the dough has been thoroughly kneaded and has become smooth, add the other portion of butter and let it be worked into the dough.
- Once your dough has absorbed the extra butter and become smooth and elastic again, place it into a greased bowl and cover it with cling film. Put it in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size. It pays to visualise how much bigger it will look when roughly doubled in case you forget how big it initially was.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and take it out of the bowl to put into your chosen greased loaf pan(s) or to form into the bread shape you wish to bake.
- Leave the formed dough to rise again. This is the rising that will trap the air that will remain in your bread and make it light and fluffy, so be gentle and try not to mess it around.
- Once the dough has proved*, you can wash it with egg or milk and bake it at 190°C, until the crust is dark, golden brown. To know more accurately if it is cooked, you can use a probe thermometer to check if the core is 92°C. You can check free-form loaves by tapping their base and seeing if it makes a hollow sound, but this does not help if you are baking in a container.
- When you are satisfied that your loaf is cooked, turn it out onto a cooling rack.
*The general rule for proofing is that if you can make a dimple in it with a finger and it pops back again, or if it is roughly double in size, it is ready for the oven.
Sometimes when you are using a loaf pan you will have an annoying amount of dough left over. This is what I sometimes do with my extra dough when I make a small loaf for my crostini:
Divide the dough into small balls of around 100g and push a square of chocolate into them, then reform the ball around them. Let them prove and bake them along with your loaf. Scoff them.