Want bread that tastes like cake? Try brioche.

What exactly is brioche?  According to Sherry Yard, it is a “slightly sweetened yeasted dough, enriched with butter and eggs.”  The rich dough gives it a texture similar to something you’d expect in a cake, not a bread.   Since it is so rich with butter and eggs, it’s a mix between a bread and a pastry.

Because of its versaitility and taste, I’ve made brioche three times already.  Although time consuming, most of the time is spent just waiting on the dough (during which you can do other things).  The technique to make brioche is simple and similar to other types of bread.  If you can make successful brioche, you can make a lot of other basic breads as well with just a few tweaks!

I’ve been meaning to try out the other things I can make with brioche, such as sticky buns, coffeecake, bee schnitten, beignets and bread pudding… unfortunately, every time I make it, people eat it too quickly!  It tastes great by itself, but even better when paired with something sweet (like preserves) or savory (like some fresh cheese).  Mmmmm… I’ll get to that bread pudding one of these days 🙂

Master Brioche

from Sherry Yard’s “The Secrets of Baking”

Yield: 2 1/2 pounds dough (2x 9×5 inch loaf pans)

For the sponge:

  • 3/4 oz (1 cake) fresh yeast or 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temp
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup bread flour or all-purpose flour

For the dough:

  • 3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

For the egg wash:

  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

Combine the yeast and milk in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and whisk until the yeast is dissolved.  Stir in the sugar and flour, forming a thick batter.  Cover with plastic film and let rest in a warm environment for 30 to 45 minutes.  As fermentation begins, bubbles will form.

Note: This step gives the fermentation a head start, which gives the finished bread a more pronounced flavor.

The sponge

The sponge

1.  Add the bread flour and salt to the sponge, then add the eggs.  Mix on low speed for 2 minutes, or until the eggs are absorbed.  Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes.  The dough will eventually begin to slap around and pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Then it will form a ball on the paddle.  Finally it will relax and reach back out to the sides of the bowl.  At this point, it will be a shiny, satiny dough.  While all of this is going on, don’t walk away.  Watch the transformation and hold on to the mixer when necessary, since it may jump around.

2.  On medium speed, add the butter, 2 TBSP at a time.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Knead until the dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes.  Scrape out the dough, wash and dry the bowl, and coat it lightly with oil.

3.  Place the dough in the oiled bowl and turn it so that the top is coated with oil.  Cover with plastic film and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Note: I fill a 9×13 casserole dish with boiling water, then place it on the bottom tray in my oven.  I then place the dough in the oven without the temperature set, so the steam will keep the environment warm and moist.


First rise: Before

After (doubled in volume)

First rise: After (doubled in volume)

4.  After the dough has doubled in volume, press down to deflate, folding one half into the other.  Fold two or three times, either in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface.  (This step is called punching)  Cover with plastic film and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.  This is the second rise.

Note: The longer the fermentation takes, the more flavor develops in the dough.  A slow, long fermentation is recommended for rich doughs like brioche.

punched, covered and chilled

Second rise: punched, covered and chilled

after a night of chilling

Second rise: after a night of chilling

5.  Spray two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans with pan spray.

6.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough evenly in half.  Cover one piece with plastic film while you shape the other.  Dust the top of the dough lightly with all-purpose flour.  With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle equal to the length of the pan and double its width.  Starting from a short side, roll up the dough ilke a jellyroll.  Pinch the seam together.  Place the dough seam side down in the prepared pan.  Gently work the dough into the pan with your fingers so that it touches all sides.  The dough should fill the pan halfway.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

7.  Cover the dough with plastic film coated with pan spray and let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size and filled the pans completely.  This step is called proofing, and is the final fermentation before the dough is baked.  It should take 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your room.

at first, it barely fills 1/2 of the loaf tin

Proofing: at first, it barely fills 1/2 of the loaf tin

8.  Toward the end of the proofing, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Adjust the rack to the center of the oven.

Egg Wash:
Whisk together the egg and egg yolk in a small bowl.  This will give the finished bread a dark golden brown crust.  Gently brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash.

After proofing is finished, the dough has filled the loaf tin.  Top with egg wash.

After proofing is finished, the dough has filled the loaf tin. Top with egg wash.

1. Bake for 10 minutes.  Turn down the oven temperature to 350 deg F and bake for 30 minutes more, or until the brioche has a dark golden crust, has an internal temperature of 180 deg F, and makes a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.

Note: This took about 20 minutes at 350 deg F for me.  I used an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature.

2.  Remove the brioche from the pans as soon as they come out of the oven and cool on a rack before serving.  Tightly wrapped loaves will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Note: After 2 days, if you still have brioche, keep it until it’s stale and you can make bread pudding!

The swirl is off center in this picture because I pinched the dough poorly... it looks better in the center ;)

The swirl is off center in this picture because I pinched the dough poorly... it looks better in the center 😉

Cinnamon Swirl:  Aftr the dough has been rolled out into a rectangle in step 6, sprinkle the surface with 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 2 TBSP ground cinnamon.  Roll it up, place it in the prepared loaf pan seam side down, and continue as directed in the master recipe.  Once baked, the slices will show a cinnamon swirl.

Note: I also added about 1/2 cup of plump raisins.

Cinnamon raisin swirl brioche

Cinnamon raisin swirl brioche

Here are some tips from Dorie Greenspan and Nancy Silverton regarding Brioche:

  • Mix, mix, and then mix smoe more.  Once all of the ingredients except the butter have been added, the dough must be beaten for a long time – sometimes as long as 25 minutes – to develop its fine texture.
  • Listen for the slapping sound.  The dough should wrap itself around the dough hook and visually and audibly slap the sides of the bowl.  If the dough doesn’t cmoe together, add a few sprinkles of flour and continue to beat.
  • Keep the butter smooth and cool.  The butter and the dough it goes into should have a similar consistency – soft, smooth and still cool (never oily).  To get the butter to the right consistency, beat it with a rolling pin or smear it in pieces across a work surface.
  • Add the butter bit by bit.  The butter should go into the dough a few tablespoonfuls at a time while you mix at medium-low speed.  Don’t panic when your beautiful dough breaks up with the first few additions of butter – press on.  The dough will come together and once again make that satisfying slapping sound.

3 Responses to “Want bread that tastes like cake? Try brioche.”

  1. December 12, 2008 at 12:27 am

    THE BRIOCHES HAVE GIANT BOILS. And they look delicious.

    Did you… buy a domain name…? Or am I just lost?

  2. 2 Powerochi
    December 12, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I saw this bread’s post on craiglist.

    He’s cheating on you.

  3. 3 cream poop
    December 12, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I want bread that tastes like rice cooker…can you do that, mrs angry baker?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

December 2008
    Jan »



%d bloggers like this: