Brioche – Once Upon a Chef


Adapted from one of my favorite bread making books, this easy homemade brioche tastes like it was made in a French bakery.

Brioche is a French bread with a fluffy interior, slightly sweet flavor, and shiny golden crust. It’s made from an enriched dough, meaning it includes ingredients beyond the basic flour, salt, water, and yeast used to make plain white bread. These extra ingredients, like butter, eggs and sugar, give the bread a deliciously rich flavor (challah is also an enriched bread, although not quite as rich as brioche).

This easy and foolproof brioche recipe is modestly adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg M.D. and Zoë François, one of the best bread making books I own. The dough takes just minutes to make and only needs to be kneaded by hand for about 30 seconds. The hardest part is waiting for it rise: it requires a 2-hour rise at room temperature after mixing followed by at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days) in the fridge, and then another 1-1/2 hours to rise after it’s braided and placed in the loaf pan.

Since the recipe makes two loaves, you may choose to give one away or freeze one. If you happen to have some left over, stale brioche makes wonderful French toast or bread pudding. Brioche dough is also a great base for babka and sticky buns – stay tuned for those recipes coming soon!

What You’ll Need to Make Brioche

brioche ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, warm water, sugar, salt and yeast.

butter, water, sugar, salt and yeast in bowl

Whisk to combine, and then add 5 of the eggs.

adding the eggs

Whisk again until evenly combined.

whisking the eggs into the mixture

Add the flour all at once.

adding the flour

Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is uniform.

The dough will be wet, lumpy, and a bit elastic (it will firm up in the fridge and smooth out when you knead it). wet dough

Cover loosely with plastic wrap (make sure the entire bowl is covered but don’t seal it airtight) and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to three days.

dough covered with plastic wrap

On the day of baking, grease an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan with butter (or two loaf pans if you’re baking both loaves at the same time). Dust a clean work surface generously with flour. Dust the dough in the bowl with flour and use a knife to cut it in half.

splitting the dogh

Pull out half of the dough and place on the floured work surface; cover the remaining half with plastic wrap (not airtight) and place back in the refrigerator until ready to bake. (The dough can be used anytime within the 3 day window, or frozen in an airtight container for up to two weeks. When ready to use the frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then continue with the next step.)

Dust the dough with more flour and knead, sprinkling more flour as necessary so the dough doesn’t stick, for about 30 seconds.

kneading the dough

Divide the dough into 3 equal portions (about 9 oz each).

Using your hands, roll each one into a 13-inch strand.

Pinch the three strands together at the top and braid.

Place the braided dough into the prepared loaf pan, tucking the ends underneath. (Alternatively, if you don’t want to braid the dough, simply elongate it into an oval and place in the prepared pan.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap (not airtight) and let sit at room temperature for 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush it evenly onto the dough.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the bread is a rich golden brown color. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes.

Turn the loaf out of the pan and let cool completely before slicing.

How to Freeze Brioche

Brioche is best enjoyed fresh on the day it is made, but it freezes well too. Wrap your cooled brioche loaf in aluminum foil and place in a freezer bag, pushing out as much air as possible, and seal tightly. Freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to serve the bread, take it out and let it thaw at room temperature. If you don’t plan to serve the whole loaf at once, you might consider slicing the bread or portioning it into a few larger pieces before freezing (defrosting and re-freezing will cause the bread to deteriorate).

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Brioche

Adapted from one of my favorite bread making books, this easy homemade brioche tastes like it was made in a French bakery.

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1 cup warm water (see note)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant/rapid-rise yeast
  • 6 large eggs, divided (5 for dough and 1 for egg wash)
  • 5½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off, plus more for kneading and braiding

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, warm water, sugar, salt and yeast. Add 5 of the eggs and whisk until evenly combined. Add the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is uniform; it will be wet, lumpy, and a bit elastic (it will firm up in the fridge and smooth out when you knead it). Cover loosely with plastic wrap (make sure the entire bowl is covered but don’t seal it airtight) and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to three days.
  2. On the day of baking, grease an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan with butter (or two loaf pans if you’re baking both loaves at the same time). Dust a clean work surface generously with flour. Dust the dough in the bowl with flour and use a knife to cut it in half. Pull out half of the dough and place it on the floured work surface; cover the remaining half with plastic wrap (not airtight) and place it back in the refrigerator until ready to bake. (The dough can be used anytime within the 3 day window, or frozen in an airtight container for up to two weeks. When ready to use the frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then continue with the next step.)
  3. Dust the dough with more flour and knead, sprinkling more flour as necessary so the dough doesn’t stick, for about 30 seconds. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions (about 9 oz each) and, using your hands, roll each one into a 13-inch strand. Pinch the three strands together at the top and braid. Place the braided dough into the prepared loaf pan, tucking the ends underneath. (Alternatively, if you don’t want to braid the dough, simply elongate it into an oval and place in the prepared pan.) Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap (not airtight) and let sit at room temperature for 90 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  5. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl. Brush it evenly onto the dough (cover and refrigerate the remaining egg wash for the second loaf, or discard if not using within 2 days). Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the bread is a rich golden brown color. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then turn out and let cool completely before slicing.
  6. Note: Warm water helps activate the yeast. The temperature should be about 110°F, but it doesn’t need to be exact so no need to use a thermometer; just try to get it about the temperature of bath water.
  7. Note: If you’d like to bake both loaves at the same time, allow a few extra minutes baking time.
  8. Make-Ahead/Freezing Instructions: Brioche is best served fresh the day it is baked, but it will keep in a plastic bag or wrapped in foil at room temperature for a few days. The bread can also be frozen for up to 2 months. To freeze, wrap the cooled brioche loaf in aluminum foil and place in a freezer bag, pushing out as much air as possible, and seal tightly. When ready to serve the bread, take it out and let it thaw at room temperature. If you don’t plan to serve the whole loaf at once, slice the bread or portion it into a few larger pieces before freezing (defrosting and re-freezing will cause the bread to deteriorate).

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