Classic French Brioche

Christmas is definitely one of the best times of the year: lights everywhere, that magic atmosphere, Michael Bublé is singing at the radio and everything seems so special.

Xmas is stunning: only one night, just one day, which seems last a way longer or, at least, its memory will last forever.

It’s December 25th, the alarm clock rang very early, but it was actually pretty useless since I was already awake: it was the euphoria for this amazing day which woke me up.  I wore my red slippers and I immediately ran down the stairs, singing ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’. I woke up my parents, my sis and my brother: everything was ready. But… there’s still something missing… Oh, my lovely puppy was there as well.

We started unwrapping our presents, a new unforgettable Christmas begun. All our relatives are coming over to have lunch together, which is a tradition in my family. But a bang-up Christmas needs to start with a gorgeous breakfast, right?

So today I want to show you an amazing idea for Xmas breakfast (or for any other special occasion): a flavorful, super fluffy Classic French Brioche.

Brioche is so tender, buttery, and rich that it walks the line between bread and cake. However, it is not inherently sweet. It’s rich, but can be used to make either savory or sweet baked goods.

Its simplicity and classic taste can be surprising: homemade goods are always the greatest ones.

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 150 g strong bread flour
  • 150 g all-purpose flour
  • 50 g sugar
  • 20 g honey
  • 110 g whole eggs (about 2 eggs) at room temperature
  • 110 g unsalted butter (at room temperature and cut into 1” cubes)
  • 1 tsp dry active yeast
  • 70 g whole milk (lukewarm)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste / half of a vanilla pod
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg + 2 tbsp whole milk (for the egg wash)
  •  20-40 g apricot jam + 1 tsp water (to brush the top)

note: if you don’t have active dry yeast, you can substitute it with 7 grams of fresh yeast.

note: this recipe, in order to get a flavorful and super fluffy brioche, needs to rest in the fridge overnight.

note: this recipe makes 2 loaves of 23×5 cm.

METHOD:

  1. first thing first, activate the yeast: dissolve into the lukewarm milk (26°C / 78°F) the yeast together with the honey and 1 tbsp of sugar (taken from the total amount). Give it a stir and set that aside for about 10 minutes: as soon as the yeast gets quite foamy, you know it’s done (see photo).
  2. in a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine flour and the remaining sugar. Then add the slightly beaten eggs, vanilla bean paste (or the seeds of half of a vanilla pod) and the milk and yeast mixture. Star kneading on low speed and, after about 1 minute, gradually increase the speed to medium. Mix the dough for about 10-15 minutes on medium speed, making sure to stop the mixer and scrape down the dough hook and the sides of the bowl twice. Do not worry if the dough looks a little too firm and almost dry at this point, this is totally fine.
  3. when the dough doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl anymore and it looks quite elastic, you can start adding the room temperature butter, cut into 1” (2-2,5 cm) cubes. The butter needs to be soft, but still malleable. Add 1 cube at a time, making sure to let the previous one be fully absorbed by the dough before adding the next cube. This process will take about 10 minutes, always on medium speed. What you should end up with is a soft, smooth and uniform dough. Check the gluten structure: gently stretch a small piece of dough between your fingers. If it breaks apart easily, continue kneading. If the dough is elastic and holds a “pane”, then the gluten structure is sufficiently developed.
  4. once you’ve finished the kneading process, give the dough a round shape and place it in a slightly butter bowl. Let it rise at room temperature covered with plastic wrap for about 40-60 minutes: it does not require to double in volume, it just needs to start the proofing process, which will continue overnight in the fridge. So let the dough rise about 1/3 of its initial volume, before transferring it in the fridge overnight. This is a crucial step for two reasons: the first one, the brioche will be more flavorful and, second reason, the butter contained into the dough will solidify again, making the shaping process a way easier.
  5. the day after, remove the brioche from the fridge, cut the dough into 6 equal parts (about 120 grams each). Roll each of the 6 pieces into a tube (about 3 cm in diameter). Work 3 of them and on one side, pinch all of the strands together tightly.Begin braiding, bringing the outside strand over the center strand, alternating right to left. When you reach the end of the strands, tightly pinch together the ends to lock the shape into place. Gently transfer the braid to a loaf pan, slightly buttered and then floured. When you place the braid, tuck the ends under to tidy up the shape. Repeat the same process with the other 3 dough pieces.
  6. prepare your egg wash by whisking together the egg and the milk very well. Gently brush the top of the brioches and cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap. Place them in a warm and draft-free place and let them proof just until they’ve doubled in size, about 1½ – 2 hours.
  7. once proofed, preheat the oven at 375°F (190°C). Using a pastry brush, gently glaze the top of the brioches with a light coating of the egg wash once more. Bake in a preheated oven, for about 18-20 minutes. While the brioches are baking, in a small pan heat the apricot jam and water and, as soon as it starts simmering, remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.
  8. once the brioches are baked, let them cool in the loaf pans for about 10 minutes, before placing them over onto a cooling rack to cool down completely. When the brioches are still warm, brush the top with the jam mixture: it’ll make them super shiny and gorgeous. Keep your brioches in an air tight plastic bag in order to preserve their amazing aromas and fluffiness.

 

The activated yeast.

The activated yeast.

 

 

The dough before adding the room temperature butter.

The dough before adding the room temperature butter.

 

The gluten structure.

The gluten structure.

 

The proofed dough (after chilling overnight).

The proofed dough (after chilling overnight).

 

The dough tubes.

The dough tubes.

 

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The brioches before proofing.

The brioches before proofing.

 

The proofed brioches.

The proofed brioches.

 

The brioche texture.

The brioche texture.

 

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Classic French Brioche.

 

Celebrate Christmas (or any other special day) starting the day with this amazing Classic French Brioche.

This is my version, I’m waiting for yours.

XOXO Cooker Girl.

 

 

 

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