Brioche is yet another very classic bread, and on the rich end of the spectrum, with eggs and butter playing important roles. With an egg-washed top that provides a shiny mahogany color, this bread screams "decadent." Or maybe it screams "use me for French toast."
This recipe from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking, doesn't reveal any major baking secrets, but I've got to say that beating on butter with a rolling pin can be kind of fun.
One thing to keep in mind with this bread: it will be rather dense before the butter is added. It gets much softer after the butter is incorporated, so don't be tempted to add more water to the first mix.
Like other recipes in this book, there are a lot of steps, but none of the steps are difficult.
As always with our Knead the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking to give away this week.
Adapted from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking by the French Culinary Institute. Copyright © 2011. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved
About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie or @cookistry.
- 662 grams / 1 pound 71/3 ounce bread flour
- 146 grams / 5 1/8 ounces cool water
- 66 grams / 2 1/3 ounces cool milk
- 146 grams / 5 1/8 ounces cold eggs
- 26 grams / 1 ounce fresh yeast
- 79 grams / 2 3/4 ounces sugar
- 13 grams / 1/2 ounce salt
- 212 grams 7 1/2 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 large egg for eggwash
Prepare the mise en place, taking care that the water and the milk are about 75 degrees.
Place the butter on a clean, flat work surface and, using a rolling pin, lightly pound on it to soften.
Combine the bread flour, water, milk, eggs, and yeast in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the hook. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is starting to become shaggy (mixed but not smooth in texture) and there is some gluten development. Add the sugar and salt, increase the mixer speed to medium, and continue mixing for about 5 minutes, or until the dough begins to come together into a mass.
With the mixer on low, add the butter, a little at a time, and mix for about 5 minutes, or until the dough has come together and pulls away from the bowl.
Lightly oil a large bowl or container.
Scrape the dough into the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic film and set aside to ferment for 45 minutes.
Uncover the bowl and fold the dough. Again, cover with plastic film and set aside to ferment for 45 minutes.
Lightly flour the work surface.
Uncover the dough and divide it into three 450 gram / 16-ounce rounds on the floured surface. Cover with plastic film and bench rest for 15 minutes.
Lightly butter three 9-inch loaf pans.
To make the egg wash, combine the egg with 14 grams / 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, whisking it to blend.
Uncover the dough and, if necessary, lightly flour the work surface. Gently press on the dough to degas and carefully shape each round into a batard.
Place one batard, seam side down, in each prepared pan. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the top of each loaf with the egg wash. (Do not discard the remaining egg wash.) Cover the loaves with plastic film and proof for 2 hours.
About a half hour before you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Uncover the dough and again, using a pastry brush, lightly coat the top of each loaf with the remaining egg wash. (If desired, the pans can be set on sheet pans for baking, but this is not necessary.)
Transfer the loaves to the preheated oven. Bale for 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and shiny and the sides are firm to the touch.
Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool.