Brioche Loaf

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Brioche is one of those things that is amazing all on its own, in all its simple glory.  I mean, its a loaf of bread packed with eggs and butter – how much better can it get?

Ok, maybe some chocolate brioche, or sugar brioche…or twice-baked brioche wouldn’t be too shabby either.

Anyway, I had butterflies in my stomach as I rolled up my sleeves and cracked open my Flour cookbook to make this. Bread seems so daunting, and I was petrified that I would end up wasting half a dozen eggs and more than half a box of butter if things didn’t work out.

Things turned out ok though.  Hurrah!  The results:

Delicate, crispy topBrioche side

Light and fluffy inside
brioche slices

And the most amazing smell ever to permeate the house.  I want to make more bread just to smell it.

A couple things about this recipe:

  1. My bread came out fluffier and more delicate than the stuff I’ve had at Flour.  I think this might have been due to the fact that I replaced bread flour with all-purpose flour, instead of using part all-purpose and part bread flour as directed in the book (bread flour contains more gluten-forming protein, which makes for a chewier, more substantial-feeling bread).  So, adjust flour ratios according to personal preference?
  2. My dough never really went through the stiff/shaggy stage described in the cookbook, and it came out quite sticky even with the extra flour I kneaded in at the end.  It was a little tricky to handle, but became much more manageable after the refrigeration step.

I’m definitely making this again.  A loaf of bread usually lasts a little more than a week in our house.  This one lasted maybe 2-3 days.  The recipe wasn’t kidding when it said one can never have too much brioche in the house.

BRIOCHE
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery
Yields enough dough for two 9 x 5″ loaves
Make ahead:  Dough can be stored in freezer.  

Ingredients (Note:  Don’t halve the recipe.  There won’t be enough dough to engage the dough hook of your mixer.  The extra can be frozen for later.)  
2 1/4 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 1/4 c. bread flour (You can also sub this with AP flour)
3 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast, or 1 ounce fresh cake yeast (High altitude adjustment:  2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast)
1/3 c. plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 c. cold water
6 eggs (5 for the dough, 1 for brushing on loaf)
1 c. plus 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, RT and cut into 10-12 pieces

Directions (my comments in italics)
1.  Using the dough hook in a stand mixer, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water and 5 of the eggs.  Beat on low until all of the ingredients have come together.  Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another several minutes.  The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

(I beat on setting 2 of our 300 watt Kitchen Aid Ultrapower stand mixer.  The dough kept on riding up on our hook, so I had to stop and scrape the dough off quite often.  The dough did not ever become stiff or dry).

2.  Add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough.

3.  Continue mixing on low until all the butter is mixed thoroughly into the dough.  It might be necessary to stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands in order to mix the butter thoroughly.

(Steps 2 & 3:  Since our mixer could not handle the dough very well, I ended up alternating mashing the butter into the dough with a wooden spoon and mixing with the mixer.  You can also knead the butter in with your hands, but be careful that your body heat does not melt the butter).

4.  Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft and somewhat shiny.  It might take quite a while to come together and might initially look shaggy, but should eventually turn smooth and silky.

(I did not do this mixing step because my dough was already quite sticky, soft and shiny after thoroughly mixing the butter in;  I probably inadvertently did this by hand).    

5.  Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute.  You should hear the dough slap the sides of the bowl.  The dough should also stretch a little if you pull at it.  If it seems more like a batter than a dough, add a little bit of flour and mix until it comes together.  If it doesn’t really stretch, but breaks off into pieces when you pull it, continue to mix until it develops more strength and stretches (check every couple of minutes).  It is ready when you can gather it and pick it up in one piece.

(My dough made the slapping sound, but seemed to be in between batter and dough consistency, and it definitely oozed over my hands when I tried to pick it up.  I added flour in increments of ~ 2 Tbsp at a time, mixing in between, until it came together more.  The total Tbsp of flour I ended up adding was between 4-6.  I wasn’t able to easily scoop the dough out of the bowl as one mass because it was so sticky, but was able to dump the dough out into my hands and it sat there in one mass without oozing out of my hands.  I suppose I could’ve added more flour, but was afraid that it would end up tasting too dough-y/flour-y).

Sticky brioche dough.

Sticky brioche dough.

6.  Place the dough in a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, with the wrap touching the surface of the dough.  Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or up to overnight.

(Make ahead tip:  After proofing, you can freeze the dough for up to 1 week)  

Plastic wrap sitting on dough.

Plastic wrap sitting on surface of dough.

This is what the dough looked like after proofing overnight (~16 hours).  It had risen slightly.

This is what the dough looked like after proofing overnight (~16 hours). It had risen slightly.

7.  If you are making a brioche treat other than a loaf, continue on to that recipe.

8.  To make loaves, line the bottom and sides of 9 x 5″ loaf pans with parchment, or butter them liberally.

9.  Halve the dough and form each half into about a 9″ square.  Fold down the top 1/3 toward you, and then fold up the bottom 1/3 over the top 1/3 – as if folding a letter.  Press the edge down.  Place the dough seam-side down in one of the prepared pans.  Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Fold top 1/3 of dough toward you.

Fold top 1/3 of dough toward you.

Fold bottom 1/3 of dough up, like folding a letter.

Fold bottom 1/3 of dough up, like folding a letter.  Press the edge to join the layers.

Place dough into pan folded side down.

Place dough into pan folded side down.

10.  Cover the loaves lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof until nearly doubled in size and rounded on top, ~4-5 hours (high altitude adjustment:  ~2 hours).  The dough should feel soft, pillowy and light, as if it’s filled with air.

(Our house was kind of cold, so I preheated the oven to the lowest temperature possible (170 degrees F), turned it off, and then let it cool a little so it was warm, but not toasty, and let the loaf rise in there.)

After proofing for 4.5 hours.

After proofing for 4.5 hours.

Side view of proofed dough.

Side view of proofed dough.  Nice and pillowy, rounded on top.

11.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

12.  Whisk the remaining egg, and gently brush the top of the loaves with the beaten egg for a nice, shiny finish.

13.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the tops and sides of the loaves are completely golden brown.  Let cool on wire racks for 30 minutes, then turn the loaves out of the pans and continue to cool on racks.

(At 30 minutes, the loaf was beginning to turn a light gold;  at 45 minutes it was a little browner than I would have liked, but the crust still had a surprisingly delicate texture.  35-40 minutes would have probably been best in our oven.)

Forgot to brush the egg on top for the nice shiny finish. Oops.

14.  The bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.     

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4 responses to “Brioche Loaf

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