How do I make brioche?
Making brioche is much easier than you would think. It just takes time and a lot of energy. Unless you have a machine and then it just takes time. The trick is to knead the dough in two parts. Here is what it looks like to do it in the machine.
Part one: knead everything EXCEPT the butter for 10 minutes:
Part two: knead in the butter for at least 10 minutes:
If you are kneading by hand, you can be forgiven for thinking that incorporating THAT MUCH butter into your dough blob will be an impossible task. Fear not and panic not. It is not impossible although the butter will melt (even though it’s cold and cubed to help it get absorbed by the flour without melting), a doughy lake will form on the table, and the sticky mess will be all over your hands. It feels like you are pushing wall paper paste all over the place. But wait! After a good 10-20 minutes (yes…) the butter will absorb, the dough will re-form and you will have a glossy blob of dough with a pillowy chewing gum feeling to it. There will also be dark golden streaks and that is how you know it’s done. If you use a machine, keep it on the lowest speed for the whole time. It will still take 20 minutes or more to knead the dough.
Here is a really great recipe for brioche. It was originally published in my first book, All You Knead Is Bread.
250 g plain white wheat flour
1.25 g dry yeast/2.5 g dry yeast/5 g fresh yeast
15 g sugar
50 g milk
5 g salt
125 g unsalted butter lightly chilled and cut into small cubes
Make the pre dough:
Measure the flour into a bowl and make a well. Add the yeast and the sugar and pour over the milk. Flick some flour on the milk to close the well and cover it. Leave it for one hour.
It will be foamy and bubbling through the top of the well. If it is not, check for signs of life it by simply digging through the surface of the flour you have flicked on top of the well.
Make the final dough:
Sprinkle the salt around the edge of the flour and add the eggs into the well. Mix everything and then turn it out of the bowl. Knead well for ten minutes and then add the butter. Knead as above. DON’T PANIC.
When the dough really changes in structure and colour, scrape it back into a bowl, cover it and let it rest on the counter it for 4-6 hours until it has doubled in size. Once that has happened, put it in the fridge for an hour or simply because this makes it easier to deal with. You do not have to refrigerate it. You can also let it rest in the fridge over night.
Shaping the brioche:
Butter the mould well. If you are using a brioche mould, form a big ball and a tiny little ball. Place the big ball in the mould and then stick the little ball to the top, using some milk or melted butter as glue. If you want to use a regular bread tin, go for it. Grease the tin with butter and gently roll the dough into a little sausage and place it in the tin, or make a fancy S shape, by rolling the dough into a long sausage and folding it, snake-like, into the tin, or mould individual balls and tuck them side-by-side into the tin…whatever you want. Just remember: the dough should only come 1/3 of the way up the sides of the tin. Brioche dough expands to over twice its original volume.
Brush the top with beaten egg that you have thinned with a tablespoon of water, or with melted butter, cover it and let it rest for 30 minutes or so if the dough is warm or 2-4 hour or so if the dough is cold. You want the dough to be warm and you want it to have risen before it goes in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celcius and bake the brioche for 30 minutes. It will sound hollow when it is done but handle it gently because it is very soft and fragile at first. It’s also incredibly light! Let it cool completely before you cut or tear into it.
Want to learn more about bread? Come and take a bread class!