Brioche – it’s what’s for breakfast

Bread is one of my favorite things to eat.  When people talk about removing carbs from their diets, I struggle to understand how they do it.  A life without bread sounds just awful.  This is an even more true statement now that I know how to make my own brioche at home.  It takes a while, but it will fill your home with the best smells and almost melt in your mouth it’s so soft, pillowy, and moist (though in a different way than you’d describe a moist cake).  If you like challah, you’ll love brioche.  I love both.

One of the first treats I learned to make at my Labo & Gato pastry class was a brioche, and I have to admit it was also one of the trickier to translate from French to English.  Either I was doing things not quite right, or the times listed in the recipe were a little bit off.  Regardless, my first attempt at making brioche at home was a huge success.  In fact, I think it was even better than when I made it in class.

There are a few trickier ingredients (sucre inverti, fermiline viennoiseries, and oatmeal flour) that might be tricky to find in the US.  But, I have a feeling you might be able to use US cake flour, instead (I think French T45 is the same as the US cake flour).  Otherwise, I’d recommend picking up these non-stick TeFal bread pans.  I didn’t have to grease the pans at all, they came right out and are the perfect size.

Brioche tressée (2 pieces – 24 cm/each)

Ingredients

335 g de farine de gruau (Oatmeal Flour) (about 1 3/4 cups)

7g de sel (salt)

35g de sucre (sugar – about 5 teaspoons)

20g de sucre inverti

4g de Fermiline viennoiseries (about 1 teaspoon)

15g de levure fraiche (fresh yeast)

50g de lait (about 1/4 cup whole milk)

150g d’oeufs (about 3 eggs)

135g de beurre tempéré

QS aromatisants (vanilla, zeste d’orange, liqueur d’orange, fleur d’oranger)

Oeuf de dorure (egg wash)

Sucre grain #10 (no. 10)

Make the brioche dough (24/48 hours before)

DAY 1

In the bowl of an electric mixer, equipped with a dough hook, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and Fermiline viennoiseries.  Mix the powders and create a well in the center.

In a separate bowl, mix the milk, sucre inverti, and yeast together.  In another bowl, beat the eggs and add about 4/5 of the eggs to the dry flour mixture.

Knead 5 min at slow speed and then increase kneading speed. Knead until the paste is peeling off the wall before adding the remaining 1/5 of eggs.   This kneading step lasts 15 to 20 minutes.  (I found this took much longer than 15-20 minutes – it’ll look like the dough will NEVER peel off the wall, but it will – be patient.)

In a saucepan, slowly melt the butter.  When the dough is homogeneous (peeling off the side) add the butter and knead until a smooth and uniform paste is formed (about 5 min [this took easily another 20-25 minutes]) is obtained.

When you add the butter, it’ll look sort of like macaroni & cheese (3rd photo below).  Don’t be alarmed.  If you keep kneading, it’ll eventually absorb the butter and become the paste described.  If it doesn’t look right after 5 minutes, keep kneading.

To understand if your dough has been kneaded enough (i.e. – has it developed enough gluten/stretch) you can pull off a piece of the dough and work it between your fingers.  This is called window-paning.  If you can work the piece of dough without it breaking/ripping apart and continue working it until it’s thin enough that you can almost see through it, it’s ready to go.  If not, continue kneading for another couple minutes & try this again.

Add to finish the various extracts or alcohols.

Cover with cellophane or a damp cloth and let stand for 1h-1h30 at room temperature.

Remove from the bowl, cover with cellophane and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.

DAY 2

Shape and cook the brioche

Divide the dough into 6 pieces of the same weight (about 115 g/each).  Form and roll each piece of dough.   Allow pieces to rest for 10 min.

It’s easiest if you work the dough into a small rectangle.  Then, turn up the edges on both sides (see photo 2 below).  Then push those together and begin rolling out your dough pieces to slightly longer than the length of your pan.

Shape each dough into long branches before plaiting 2 brioches using 3 branches, each. Place in brioche molds 24 cm long.

Once plaited in pans, “prove” your dough by placing it in a low heat oven (25/30 C) until dough doubles in volume (about 4 hours).

Below you can see the difference of the before (left) and after (right).  You’ll also notice one has a tighter braid than the other.  I was playing around with the length and wanted to see if it would make a difference in the bake (it did not).  I prefer the tighter braid (one on the left in both photos).

Once dough has risen, take out of the oven and brush with egg wash then sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Bake 30/35 min a 150 C.

Rest on a rack and let cool.

Your house will smell amazing and you will absolutely LOVE it.  I’m convinced I’ll start making brioche at least twice a month and/or before any road trips!

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