08 March 2011


A recent conversation prompted a personal observation. I'm not much of a starch guy. Potatoes? Meh. Rice. A bit better. Pasta, now I'm getting interested, but still not my favourite part of the meal. But bread? Good, homemade bread? I can easily make a meal of a fresh-baked loaf of bread and some butter. My go-to bread is no-knead bread, because it's simple, requires only a few preparations and is obscenely delicious.

But it's not the only bread. I've tried a few different recipes for brioche and been completely unsatisfied. Until I found this recipe, from Crust and Crumb: Master Formulas for Serious Bread Bakers. It's a keeper:
1 tsp instant yeast
½ cup lukewarm milk
1 cup unbleached bread flour
Mix the starter until moist. Cover and let rise for one to two hours. To the starter, add:
3 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
5 large eggs, beaten well
1 ¾ cups unsalted butter, softened
Mix on low in your mixer, until the flour is moistened. Then beat on medium with your dough hook until the dough is soft and smooth. It's stickier than regular bread doughs, but the butter should be well incorporated.

Brioche dough

Mist lightly with a vegetable oil sprayer, cover with saran wrap, and place in the fridge for five to twelve hours. You're looking for the flavour to develop and the butter to firm back up. This will provide the proper texture and flavour for the brioche.

Remove from the fridge, and mold into three equal-sized round loaves.

Rising brioche

Cover and let sit for 2 hours at room temperature to rise. Meanwhile, beat:
one egg
Preheat your oven to 375°F for at least half an hour. Brush the egg wash lightly on the loaves, and bake the loaves for 40ish minutes, until golden brown.

Baked brioche

These loaves are almost cakish in texture, buttery and sweet. They're a fabulous soft bread that makes a nice change from the ordinary. And shaped into the fancy little brioche pans, they can be quite fancy to serve, with minimal effort. Huge success, and loved by all.

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