Brioche

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Brioche is a very indulgent bread. Or is it a cake? It’s possibly best described as a yeast-risen cake, yet it can be savoury or sweet. Be it bread or cake this brioche recipe is one that you have to bake at least once. This dough is quite sticky and unable to be shaped into the classic fluted brioche moulds, but that is the beauty of this recipe, plenty of eggs and masses of butter resulting in a luscious, rich product. It is baked in a loaf tin and is best eaten thickly sliced and toasted, or topped with poached fruit and ice cream or custard to make a fabulous dessert. Serve it with jam and ricotta for breakfast or with sautéed mushrooms or pâté as an elegant entrée.

Ingredients

  • 190 g ( oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, chilled
  • 4 g ( oz) fresh yeast, chilled
  • 15 g (½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar, chilled
  • 30 ml (1 fl oz/ tablespoons) milk, chilled
  • 3 eggs, chilled
  • 5 g ( oz/1 teaspoon) salt
  • 125 g ( oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1.5 cm (⅝ inch) cubes, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • egg wash, for brushing

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7). Grease and line a 22 x 7.5 x 7.5 cm (8½ x 3 x 3 inch) loaf (bar) tin. Put the flour, yeast, sugar, milk, eggs and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix for another 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and with the motor running, add a few pieces of butter at a time, making sure it is well incorporated before adding more — when finished the dough should be smooth, soft and very sticky to the point of being difficult to handle. You will find it easier when handling the dough to lightly dust the work surface and your hands with flour while you work.

Transfer the dough to a bowl that has been lightly greased with butter and cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel). Place in the refrigerator to prove for about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press the dough down, gently knocking out most of the air inside and pressing out to form a rectangle, about 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick. Use your hands to fold one-third back onto itself, then repeat with the remaining third. Turn the dough 90 degrees and fold it over again into thirds. Place the dough back into the container, making sure the folds are underneath, cover, and continue to bulk prove in the refrigerator for a further 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knock out the air again. Press the dough out into a rectangle and fold the two sides to your left and right into the centre. The dough should be as wide as the tin is long. Press the dough down to form a rectangle and starting from the side furthest away from you, roll the dough towards you to form a log. Use the palm of your hand to close the seam running the length of the log. Place the dough into the tin, seam side down. Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Bake the brioche for about 40 minutes, or until golden — when turned out of the tin and tapped on the base it should sound hollow.