Brioche is made from a light yeast dough enriched with butter and eggs, which gives the bread a cakelike texture. Brioche dough can be shaped into a loaf, ring, plait or small buns, but the most classic is brioche à tête, with its distinctive small knot of dough on the top, resembling the ‘head’. Bakerioche is so buttery that you can serve it for breakfast with nothing more fancy than a little good-quality jam or curd. If you have one, use a fluted brioche tin; if not, an ordinary loaf tin will be fine.


  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) warm milk
  • 540 g (1 lb 3 oz/4⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar, extra
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 175 g (6 oz) butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon cream


  1. Grease six small brioche moulds and an 11 × 21 cm (4¼ × 8¼ inch) bread or loaf (bar) tin (if brioche moulds are not available, bake as two loaves). Put the yeast, sugar and warm milk in a small bowl and stir well. Leave in a draught-free place for 10 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surface. The mixture should be frothy and slightly increased in volume. If your yeast doesn’t foam, it is dead, so you will have to discard it and start again.
  2. Sift 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4 cups) of the flour, add 1 teaspoon salt and the extra sugar into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture and beaten egg. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until well combined and the mixture forms a rough ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and firm. Gradually incorporate small amounts of the butter into the dough. This will take about 10 minutes and the dough will be very sticky.
  3. Sprinkle a clean work surface, your hands and the dough with a small amount of the remaining flour. Knead the dough lightly for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large buttered bowl and brush the surface with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and leave in a draught-free place for 1½–2 hours, or until well risen.
  4. Punch down the dough and divide in half. Cover one half with plastic wrap and set aside. Divide the other half into six even-sized pieces. Remove a quarter of the dough from each piece. Mould the larger pieces into even rounds and place into the brioche moulds. Combine the egg yolk and cream to make a glaze and brush the surface of the dough. Shape the small pieces into small even-sized balls and place on top of each roll. Push a floured wooden skewer through the centre of the top ball to the base of the roll, then remove — this will secure the ball to the roll. Brush again with the glaze, then cover and leave in a draught-free place for 45 minutes, or until well risen.
  5. Meanwhile, place the remaining dough in the bread tin and brush with glaze. Cover and set aside for 1 hour, or until well risen.
  6. Preheat the oven to 210°C (415°F/Gas 6–7). Bake the small brioche for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden and cooked. Turn out immediately onto a wire rack to cool. Increase the oven to 210°C (415°F/Gas 6–7). Bake the medium loaf for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and cooked. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.