If I had to describe brioche to someone who had never tried it before, I guess I would say that it’s a hybrid between cake and bread. It often comes in loaves just like bread, but as soon as you slice it you can see the texture is lighter, and more buttery, yet not quite spongy enough to be cake. It’s because of exactly these properties that the French class Brioche as a viennoiserie, along with pastries like croissants and pains au chocolat.
The first written reference to Brioche was in the 15th century and though it’s origin isn’t confirmed, it’s generally believed to been a Norman creation (i.e. from the north of France).
Savoury brioche is often eaten at breakfast in lieu of bread in France. Sweetened varieties can be likened to Greek Easter bread, and in fact, my favourite kind of sweet brioche, called Mouna, is also served around Easter time. Mouna is traditional in Pied-Noir or Algerian cuisine, and because this is where my Mother was born, she has made it for Easter ever since I was born.
You can use brioche to substitute for bread wherever you want to add a richer flavour and fluffier texture. For example, use it as burger or hot dog buns, or slather some cheeky nutella on top of a slice at breakfast, or, use it to make French Toast like many Aussie cafés are already doing.
- 500 g strong flour (bakers flour or OO)
- 20 g salt
- 20g fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast
- 300g unsalted butter, soft
- 6 free range eggs
- 50g caster sugar
- 2 tablespoon milk, warm
- Crumble the yeast in a small bowl, add the warm milk to it and dissolve the yeast using your finger tips or if using dry yeast, sprinkle it over the warm milk and let it activate for about 10 minutes (or until it starts bubbling on top)
- Place the flour, salt and sugar in an electric mixing bowl with the hook attachment (I like to use a Kitchen Aid) and mix the three ingredients together.
- Add the yeast to the flour and mix a little. Then add the eggs one by one and mix until combined.
- Knead the dough on high speed for 8-10 minutes to really work the gluten in the flour and give the brioche dough the strength and elasticity we want ( the dough should not stick and the sides of the bowl should be clean).
- Add the butter a little bit a the time, wait until the butter is incorporated before adding more! Knead for a further 5 minutes.
- Loosely cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest until double in size. Then, knead the dough on a lightly floured bench to knock the air out of it and put it back in the bowl, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge over night.
- The dough will be easier to work with and have a better flavour by proofing slowly overnight.
The next day:
- Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and slightly knead it on a floured bench.
- Portion the dough in 100g balls, this recipe should give you about 10.
- Now you can form whatever shape you want, I chose to make buns with my brioche because I was having homemade Hotdogs for dinner!
- Place your Buns on a flat baking tray lined with baking paper, you may need to use more than one tray as we do not want them to close to each other. Loosely cover them with glad wrap and leave to proof in a warm spot until double in size.
- Brush the brioche with a couple of beaten egg yolk mix with a little bit of milk and sprinkle some hail sugar on top if you’re making sweet brioche or some sesame seeds for example for savoury brioche.
- Bake in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes, the brioche should be golden on top.
- Once cooked place them on a cooling rack and leave to cool.
Tip: Do not let the yeast come in direct contact with the salt as it would kill it.