While visiting Neil and Maureen in Seattle last weekend Maureen had a brioche roll at breakfast. On the spot, I knew I had to add this to my recipe catalog.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with brioche, it is a pastry of

brioche-1

Five 1/6ths Dough and Three 1/48ths

French origin that is like a highly-enriched bread whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb, light and slightly puffy. It has a dark, golden, and flaky crust, accentuated by an egg/cream wash applied after proofing. Let me tell you, this bread is a
lot of work. Unless you like melt in your mouth, buttery, delicious bread I would urge to run, not walk away.

As usual, I adapted a number of online recipes to make this one.

brioche-2

Finished, Cooling Brioche

INGREDIENTS

Dough Starter (Sponge):

  • 29½ g room temperature water
  • 12½ g sugar:
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Yeast
  • 71 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg

Flour mixture:

  • 156 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 25 g sugar
  • 16 g dry yeast
  • 3 g salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 113 g very soft unsalted butter

Egg Glaze (if making a large loaf, glaze is optional)

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • cream or milk: 1 teaspoon

PREPARATION

  1. One day or up to 2 days ahead, make the dough. In the mixer bowl, place the water, sugar, instant yeast, flour, and egg. Whisk by hand until very smooth, to incorporate air, about 3 minutes. The sponge will be the consistency of a very thick batter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and set it aside, covered with plastic wrap.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the flour mixture and add to the sponge. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and yeast. Then whisk in the salt (this keeps the yeast from coming in contact with the salt, which would kill it). Sprinkle this mixture on top of the sponge. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it stand for 1½ to 2 hours at room temperature.
  3. Mix the dough. Add the 2 cold eggs and mix with the dough hook on low (#2 KitchenAid ) for about 1 minute or until the flour is moistened. Raise the speed to medium (#4 KitchenAid) and beat for 2 minutes.
    1. Scrape the sides of the bowl with an oiled spatula and continue beating for about 5 minutes longer or until the dough is smooth and shiny but very soft and sticky. It will mass around the dough hook but not pull away from the bowl completely.
    2. Add the butter by the tablespoon, waiting until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next tablespoon, beating until all the butter is incorporated. The dough will be very soft and elastic and will stick to your fingers, but don’t add more flour at this point; it will firm considerably after chilling.
  4. Let the dough rise. Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart dough rising container or bowl, greased lightly with cooking spray or oil. Lightly spray or oil the top of the dough and cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. The dough will rise a lot, be sure your container is at least 3x as big as the original unrisen dough. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. Chill the dough. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour to firm it; this will prevent the butter from separating.
    1. Gently deflate the dough by stirring it with a rubber scraper or spatula, and return it to the refrigerator for another hour so that it will be less sticky and easier to handle.
  6. Deflate the dough and allow it to rest, chilled. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll it into a rectangle, flouring the surface and dough as needed to keep it from sticking. The exact size of the rectangle is not important. (Mine was about 6″ x 12″.) Give the dough a business letter turn, brushing off any excess flour, and again press down or roll it out into a rectangle. Rotate it 90 degrees and give it a second business letter turn and round the corners. Dust it lightly on all sides with flour. Wrap it loosely but securely in plastic wrap and then place it in a large zip-seal bag. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days to allow the dough to ripen (develop flavor) and firm.
  7. Shape the dough and let it rise. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently press it down to deflate it. Cut the dough into 16 pieces (roughly 60g each). Without a scale, the easiest way to divide the dough evenly is to lightly flour your hands and press it into a long brick. Cut it in half, then in half, then in half, then in half until there are 16 pieces.
    1. Cut each of the 16 pieces into thirds or about 20g each and tuck three of the little pieces into a greased cupcake pan. (Next time I would make each of the smallest pieces about 10-15 g and make more, smaller brioche.)
    2. Cover the pan loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise (ideally at 75° to 80°F, I used my proofing oven) until the edges of the dough reach the tops of the molds, about 1 hour.
  8. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F 1 hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lower level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.
  9. Glaze and bake the brioche. Lightly beat together the egg yolk and cream for the glaze. Brush the top of the brioche with the egg glaze, being careful not to drip any on the side of the pans, or it will impede rising. Allow it to dry for 5 minutes and then brush a second time with the glaze.
    1. Set the cupcake pan on a baking sheet  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 190°F.
  10. Cool the brioche. Remove the brioche from the oven and pan onto a wire rack. Turn top side up and allow them to cool until barely warm.
  11. Note: The small brioche can be reheated in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes.
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