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Authentic Brioche

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Yields sixteen 3-inch brioches à tête.

True brioche—the classic French yeast bread that’s rich and golden with butter and eggs, boasting a paper-thin crust and a silky, tender crumb—is a rare and wonderful thing. But as special as it is, brioche isn’t difficult to make.

Extras: Watch and listen to a slideshow featuring step-by-step instructions on how to make mini brioches à tête and view a slideshow of more homemade bread recipes any baker can make.

  • 1 lb. 2 oz. (4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 oz. (4-1/2 tsp.) active dry yeast, preferably Red Star brand
  • 1/2 oz. (2 tsp.) table salt, plus a pinch for the egg wash
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, plus 2 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk for the egg wash
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, slightly softened; more for the pans
Make the dough

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed until well combined. Add 4 of the eggs and the milk and continue mixing on low speed to combine. As soon as the dough starts to clump together, remove the paddle attachment and attach the dough hook. (There will still be unmixed egg and flour in the bowl.) Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Using a plastic dough scraper or strong plastic spatula, scrape the bowl and hook. Continue to mix until the dough is firm and elastic, about 2 minutes more. The dough may stick to the hook at this point, but that’s OK. Scrape the dough off the hook again.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add half of the butter, a few pieces at a time. Scrape down the bowl and dough hook, and remove the dough hook. Give the dough a few kneads by hand in the bowl, repeatedly folding the dough over on itself, to help incorporate the butter. Reattach the dough hook and add the remaining butter, a few pieces at a time, mixing on medium-low speed. Once all of the butter has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 4 minutes. Scrape the dough hook and the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix again until the dough is smooth, soft, and shiny, about 4 minutes more. You’ll hear the dough slap against the sides of the bowl when it’s ready. (If your kitchen is warm, the dough may seem too loose at this point. Resist the urge to add extra flour, or the brioche may be tough.)

Let the dough rise

Use a plastic dough scraper or a spatula to turn the dough out onto a clean, very lightly floured work surface. The dough will be very moist. Knead it by hand a few times and then form it into a ball by folding the sides into the middle at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Flip the dough over, place your palms on either side of the dough, and tuck it under itself, turning the dough as you tuck to form a loose ball with a smooth top. Transfer the dough, smooth side up, to a clean large bowl. Cover loosely with plastic and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Let the dough rise again

Use the dough scraper or spatula to turn the dough out, smooth top down, onto a very lightly floured work surface. Again, form it into a ball by folding the sides into the middle at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Flip the dough over, place your palms on either side of the dough, and tuck it under itself, turning the dough as you tuck to form a loose ball with a smooth top. Transfer the dough, smooth side up, back to the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic. At this point, for best flavor refrigerate the dough overnight. Or let it sit out until doubled in size, about 1 hour. The warmer the room, the faster the brioche will rise, so keep an eye on it.

Shape the brioches

If the dough was refrigerated, let it warm to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Butter sixteen 3-inch brioche à tête molds (use molds that are 3 to 3-1/4 inches wide across the top and at least 1-1/4 inches high).

Turn the dough out, smooth top down, onto a clean work surface. Form the dough into a ball by folding the sides into the middle at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Using a scale and a bench knife, divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, about 1 lb. 3 oz. each. Divide each half into 8 equal pieces of about 2-1/2 oz. each, for a total of 16 pieces of dough. Cover the dough with plastic to prevent it from drying out.

Roll each piece of dough into a tight ball by cupping your hand over the dough and moving it in a circular motion with the fingers of that hand slightly tucked in.

To form the “tête,” or head, hold your hand perpendicular to the work surface, with your fingers straight and tightly together (like you’re going to do a karate chop). Working with one ball of dough at a time (keeping the others covered with plastic), press down onto the ball with the side of your hand about one-third of the way from one of the edges of the dough ball (leaving one-third of the dough to one side of your hand, and two-thirds of the dough to the other side of your hand). Saw back and forth with your hand almost all of the way through until you get a shape that looks like a bowling pin, or a head and body connected by a very thin, almost translucent neck. Holding the dough by the “head,” turn the dough upright so the body is resting on the work surface. Lower the head down into the body, pressing deeply into the body and spreading it with your thumbs and index fingers to make a nest for the head. Tighten the body around the nestled head by tucking and lifting the body up around the head. Gently place the dough in one of the prepared molds, body down. Repeat with the remaining dough. Transfer the molds to a large rimmed baking sheet.

Proof the brioches

Cover the brioches very loosely with plastic. Let the dough rise until almost doubled in size and filling the molds, about 1 hour. It should spring back when gently poked with a finger.

Meanwhile, position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. It is important that the oven be thoroughly heated so the brioches bake evenly.

Bake the brioches

In a small bowl, make the egg wash by beating the remaining 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk and a pinch of salt. Lightly brush the top of the brioches (without letting the egg wash drip down into the molds or pans, which would make the brioches stick to their molds). Bake until dark golden-brown on top and golden on the sides (you can lift the brioche slightly to peek in at the edge of the mold), about 18 minutes. (The internal temperature should be 190°F.) Let the brioches cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before unmolding. Serve while they’re still warm to the touch.

Make Ahead Tips

Brioches are best served barely warm. They reheat well, so any that are not eaten within a day or two can be reheated in a 325°F oven until the outside is crisp, about 7 minutes for small brioches or 15 minutes for large. They can also be sliced and toasted.

Variations

You can also use this recipe to make 2 full-size brioche loaves or 2 large brioches a à tête. For loaves: After dividing the dough into 16 balls, butter two 8-1/2x4-1/2-inch loaf pans. Arrange eight dough balls in two rows of four in each of the pans. For large brioches à tête: After dividing the dough into 16 balls, butter two 7-inch brioche à tête molds. Place one dough ball in the middle of one of the molds. Arrange six more balls around the side of the mold, resting on the first ball (they won’t touch the bottom of the mold). Place the last ball on top of the dough in the middle. Repeat to make one more 7-inch brioche à tête. To bake both variations: Proof and apply the egg wash as for the small brioches à tête. Bake for about 25 minutes or to an internal temperature of 190°F. Let cool on a rack for 25 to 30 minutes before unmolding.

Serving Suggestions

Pair with Baked Eggs with Chives and Cream for an utterly simple yet luxurious breakfast.

Leftovers

Wrap cooled brioches well and store at room temperature for up to two days, or freeze for up to five weeks. Let them thaw, wrapped, at room temperature.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : Per 3-inch brioche; Calories (kcal): 270; Fat (g): fat g 14; Fat Calories (kcal): 120; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 8; Protein (g): protein g 6; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 29; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 380; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 115; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

what temperature should i bake these in ?

Phenomenal recipe - thank you so much! Thin, light, flaky crust and melt in the mouth interior. I call it the pastry bread:). To review checkers: follow the recipe closely and you will be rewarded in divine bundles of rich, buttery, indulgent goodness.

Lovely rolls! I refrigerated overnight as suggested. The next morning I let the dough sit out a few minutes and then shaped into balls. Didn't have brioche pans, so just used muffin tins. After placing in muffin tins, I covered the rolls and returned them to the refrigerator until about 2 hours before I wanted to cook. They turned out beautifully, and it was really nice to have that task out of the way early.

I'm only writing this review in response to Truly Dooley's post on 2/17/14. I've been baking bread for several years. I have made brioche using many different formulas. While there are better formulas, this formula makes a fine brioche. Although I would not recommend using a 2nd warm rise in place of chilling the dough. Brioche does require a lot of time. Unless you are a bread "junky" it probably isn't worth the effort just to make what seems like a basic loaf of bread in a fancy mold. Brioche is not for inexperienced bakers. At least some prior experience handling dough is required in order to determine when brioche dough is ready to pass on to the next stage of development. If you can't spare the time or pay attention to the little details, don't attempt the recipe.

Not a well written recipe. My results weren't good.

WOW! These rolls were amazing. If the feeling of being loved took the form of food, it would be these rolls. I followed the recipe exactly - which I rarely do - and found it to be easy. I cut the recipe in half since we are only three people. Since our house is usually in the 60s, I let the dough rise three times in our warmed oven. And I let it rise more than an hour in some cases to make sure it doubled. I did not put the dough into the fridge, since I had all day and was going to bake them for dinner. After the second rise, I cut the dough into 8 portions and folded and then rolled them into balls, let rise the third time and brushed two layers of egg wash on (had a lot of egg was left over, so i cooked it for my dog) before baking. Did I say I followed the recipe exactly...well I tried.

First attempt at brioche and it turned out beautifully. This was the first recipe I tested and probably the last, as there is no need to improve perfection. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, the cost of the recipe is minimal AND it's not required to fridge overnight.

I choose this recipe over others because it seemed to use better ingredients and explained the technique well. Very disappointed. Had a lump of Dough from the outset. At some point Realized it did not require 2 eggs plus a yolk to lightly glaze the bread with egg wash. Decided there may have been an error In the recipe, especially after i looked at other recipes which required 6 eggs for the same amount of flour - which i weighed btw...so after failure, tried again with the six eggs and got slime for which my fingers just went thru. I watched afew videos to ensure the dough looked right...but to no avail. I suggest you try another recipe if this is your first Time, too, altho very easy to make. Some great ingredient are sitting in my trash can.

Excellent recipe, the brioche worked in muffin tins, I got rave reviews when I made them for a dinner party.

Does the recipe still work if I don't use a mixer? Or I must use a machine for kneading? Any hint? Thanks!

Excellent clear step by step instructions. First time I have used yeast and it worked perfectly- thank you. Just one warning be careful where you place your mixmaster. Mine was about 20 cms from the edge of the bench top and when it was stirring for the 4 minute segment, I turned my back to prepare something else and it shifted to the edge. It landed upside down on the floor and damaged. Make sure you have it on a deep workspace and keep an eye on it!

I have made a lot of bread, and my family has loved it. But for me this was the best bread I have ever made. (I chose the two loaves)They loved it too. Thank you for sharing your recipe. It was detailed, clear, and turned out perfect.

I followed the directions to the letter, and the result was perfection! I used two loaf pans instead of molds and it sliced beautifully. French toast for breakfast TONIGHT! Thank you for being so precise with the directions.

aukpaque, the recipe is correct as written. Salt and yeast have different densities, so a half oz. of yeast takes up more space than a half oz. of salt.

Mine turned out too doughy! what did I do wrong? Please help because I would love to figure out how to make a good brioche...tastes really good though!

No wonder Marie Antoinette said, "Let them eat cake" (brioche). I've made brioche before but never anything that turned out so light and buttery. I followed the steps exactly and it wasn't hard at all. I was rewarded with brioche that was beyond expectation. With every bite, I feel like I am in Paris.

I just finished making this bread and it is excellent!! I was always nervous about making brioche because it seemed very involved. I was able to make this in an afternoon. AND this was my first time making bread. It came out perfect! The instructions were thorough and easy to comprehend. This is definitely a recipe I will be using again and again.

The directions were very thorough and detailed which led me to conclude that the recipe was difficult. It was actually quite easy. My first brioche came out well and I am looking forward to using the leftovers to make "The Ultimate Grilled Cheese" as the linked article suggests. Very nice recipe.

Delicious and easy to make! My guests were impressed and asked for the recipe :-)

best of the recipes for brioche. used large baking pan to make large loaf using small balls of dough next to each other. great rise and taste.

Delicious-- and such a detailed recipe, that it is quite easy to make. I used my best flour and butter and was rewarded with tender, rich, buttery bread.

Yeast and salt measurements seem to have a problem. Both have half oz. but then translate them differently into teaspoons??????? 4-1/2 and 1/2....... Which is correct? Regardless, we ended up following the 'none ounce' recipe and they were fantastic!

Terrific - My daughter and I made this recipe on the weekend, the day after we received the magazine. The recipe was explained to a T. My daughter found it complicated but that is due to the exact instructions which are necessary the first time making something like this. Since I only had 4 brioche cups/I buttered a muffin pan and made the rest in that. They were easier to butter (as no ribs) and they came out perfect. I would definitely make this again but maybe with a little less salt.

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