brioche bread

How many times will I have to learn the same cooking lesson? (I suspect many more).  I was all ready to make brioche bread on Friday afternoon, and so on Thursday night I said to Gerrit, “I better read this recipe to see what I need to do ahead of time.”  And when I said “ahead of time” I was thinking more like get butter and eggs out to sit at room temperature in the morning.  Instead I read that once the dough is made, and has risen for three hours, it is supposed to chill in the refrigerator for twelve hours.  Twelve hours.  Where did that come from?  I had just read the recipe the day before to make sure I had all the ingredients and do not remember seeing that at all.

So brioche bread on Friday afternoon did not happen.  The dough happened, and then it sat on my counter rising for three hours, and then in the refrigerator overnight, and then the bread happened on Saturday.

Brioche bread is known as an egg-y bread.  But more than that, I noticed that it has a distinct sweet flavor.  Hence, it is perfect for french toast and desserts involving bread (which we will get to later this week).  The crust is also super flaky and buttery, meaning even I, a person who does not eat bread crusts, do not have a problem with it at all.

I got this recipe from my Southern Living Cookbook, and was able to follow it until close to the end when it told me to put the dough into several little brioche pans, which was a problem because I wanted to make a loaf and because I don’t own brioche pans.  Really the trickiest part of this for me was figuring out how to get it into the pan(s).  At first I had my mind set on making two loafs, so I took half the dough, formed it into a little ball, flattened it out with my hand (note: don’t even try using a rolling pin), and rolled it up jelly-roll style as you would with other loaf breads.  But half the bread didn’t seem enough for one loaf pan, so then I combined it with the other half and re-did it.  But I was obviously not very careful about placing it seam side down, as one half of the loaf kind of exploded into a cloud causing the loaf to be lopsided.  But once it’s cut into delicious buttery slices (or maybe into cubes for something even more delicious) I think we can ignore that part.

Brioche Bread
adapted from the Southern Living Cookbook

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Wait Time: 16 hours 30 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes

Makes 1 loaf

1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit)*
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
1 cup butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, softened
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

1. In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup, combine yeast and warm water.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, and 1/2 cup flour.  Add yeast mixture and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add butter, a few pieces at a time, beating until the butter is the size of small peas. **  Gradually add the remaining three cups of flour and beat just until blended.
3. Grease a large bowl with cooking spray (or oil).  Scrape the batter into the bowl.  Brush the top of the dough with vegetable oil.  Cover and let rise at room temperature for 3 hours, or until doubled in bulk.
4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the edges of the dough into the center.  Cover and chill for 12 hours.
5. Grease or butter a ten inch loaf pan, and set aside.
6. On a lightly floured board (and with floured hands), roll dough into a ball.  Using your hands, flatten the dough into a rectangle (about ten inches long).  Roll dough up, jelly-roll style, so that you have a loaf about ten inches long.  Place in greased loaf pan.
7. In a small bowl, combine egg and 1 teaspoon water.  Brush over dough.  Cover and let rise for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, until doubled in bulk.
8.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Brush loaf again with egg mixture.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until internal temperature of loaf reads 185 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove from pan and allow to cool.

* Usually the hot tap water straight from my kitchen sink is plenty warm enough.

** Once I added the butter, the mixture was more the texture of cottage cheese than small peas, but that’s not a very appetizing thing to write in a recipe, now is it?

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