Brioche, a soft fluffy bread enriched with butter and eggs. I like eating slices of this bread with a spread of cold salty butter, with a cup of hot black coffee for breakfast, a nice way to start off the day.
There are a few brioche bread on my list, and decided to try the one from the cookbook "Flour", by Joanne Chang. This recipe makes 2 loaves. It was advised by Joanne Chang not to halve the recipe as it will be difficult to engage the dough hook if the dough is not enough, as it needs the workout to make a light, fluffy bread. She has given a few recipes for sweet breads which uses the brioche dough, and it can be frozen, so it is really a great idea to make the full recipe.
I used half of the brioche dough to bake as a loaf, and keep the half frozen to make another sweet bread with filling on another day, which I will share in later post.
The dough is made in the stand mixer, it will be soft, but not sticky, and will come together as one big ball of dough. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with greased cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. I left mine in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, the dough has increased in size to almost double.
I divided the dough into two halves, and used one to bake a brioche loaf and the other half, I kept frozen in an airtight container. (Thaw overnight in the fridge before use to bake other sweet breads).
Freshly baked brioche loaf.
The top is browning too fast, so I have cover the top of the loaf with foil and continue baking until the loaf is done. Advisable to check on your loaf after 15-20 minutes of baking.
I like the buttery yellow hue of the crumbs. The bread is so soft and fluffy. Slices of these bread are really good eaten with a spread of cold salty butter.
Look at how soft it is!
(adapted from "Flour", Joanne Chang)
Makes 2 loaves
2-1/4 cups (315gm) unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/4 cups (340gm) bread flour
1-1/2 packages (3-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast, or 1 ounce (28gm) fresh cake yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (82gm) sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (120gm) cold water
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (2-3/4 sticks/310gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 or 12 pieces
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all of the ingredients have come together. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.
On low speed, add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Then, continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all of the butter to be mixed thoroughly into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.
Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat for another 15 minutes, or until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Then, turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in one piece.
Place the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. At this point, you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
(At this point, if you are making a brioche treat, other than the loaves here, continue on to that recipe).
To make two brioche loaves, line the bottom and sides of two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with parchment, or butter the pans liberally. Divide the dough in half and press each piece into about a 9-inch square. The dough will feel like cold, clammy Play-Doh. Facing the square, fold down the top one-third toward you, and then fold up the bottom one-third, as if folding a letter. Press to join these layers. Turn the dough over and place it, seam-side down, in one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the second piece of dough, placing it in the second prepared pan.
Cover the loaves lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for 4 to 5 hours, or until the loaves have nearly doubled in size. They should have risen to the rim of the pan and be rounded on top. When you poke at the dough, it should feel soft, pillowy, and light, as if it's filled with air-because it is! At this point, the texture of the loaves always reminds me a bit of touching a water balloon.
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg until blended. Gently brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the tops and sides of the loaves are completely golden brown. Let cool in pans on wire racks for 30 minutes, then turn the loaves out of the pans and continue to cool on the racks.
The bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days (if it is older than 3 days, try toasting it) or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Flour's Note : Don't halve the recipe. There won't be enough dough to engage the dough hook of your mixer, and the dough won't get the workout it needs to become a light, fluffy bread. Don't worry about having too much; both the dough and the baked loaves freeze well, and having a freezer filled with brioche is never a bad thing.
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