Brioche is a French pastry and is made in the same basic way as bread, but the dough is as rich as a pastry because of the extra addition of eggs, butter, liquid (milk, water, cream, and, sometimes, brandy) and occasionally a bit of sugar. Brioche is often baked with fruit or chocolate chips and served as a pastry or as the basis of a dessert. It is ideal for making French Toast due to its dense texture.
The dough can be baked in any loaf pan, but the classic Brioche shape is achieved by using special fluted brioche moulds or a big Brioche mould (see images below). The traditional shape of a brioche is that of a round lump topped with another smaller round lump or topknot (hence its original name, meaning “with a head”), though it can be baked in regular loaf or muffin tins with great success. Both the large and individual brioche moulds (pictured below) can be used for a variety of different recipes, for instance my Orange, Almond and Polenta Cake (see picture below).
1 x 10 g sachet instant yeast
500 ml cake flour
150 ml lukewarm water
125 g butter, melted
5 ml salt
30 ml white sugar
4 large eggs
500 ml additional cake flour
1 large egg
30 ml water
- Mix the yeast with the cake flour in a small mixing bowl before adding it to the rest of the ingredients, except the extra flour, in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat well.
- Add sufficient of the additional cake flour to form a soft dough.
- Knead lightly on a floured surface for 4 to 5 minutes until smooth.
- Flour the bowl, return the dough to the bowl, cover and allow to rise in a mildly warm spot for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease 12 x 9 cm-wide brioche tins with butter.
- Knead down the dough lightly and shape the dough into 12 equal portions.
- Divide each of the 12 portions into a larger portion and a smaller portion – the smaller portion should be one quarter the size of the larger portion.
- Transfer the larger portion of dough in the bottom of one of the brioche tins.
- Force a hole into the center of the larger portion of dough with your fore finger, reaching all the way down to the bottom of the tin, and stick the smaller ball in the hole. This keeps it from popping off during baking.
- Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
- Place the tins on a baking pan and lightly brush the tops of the brioche with the egg glaze.
- Allow it to rise in a mildly warm spot until doubled.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and firm.
- Allow to cool in the tins for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
- Serve warm with butter only or sweet or savoury accompaniments as preferred.
The dough can also be baked in a 12-hole muffin pan or a large brioche mould.
Recipe adapted from French Brioche Rolls, Art Of Cooking page 842.