Quick Brioche Braid

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Preparation info

  • Makes one

    16 inch

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

The Modern Baker

The Modern Baker

By Nick Malgieri

Published 2008

  • About

Brioche in any form is as elegantly rich and buttery as any pastry can be. This easy braid is made from a fast version of brioche dough immediately after it emerges from the food processor. The dough is quite soft, so don’t handle it too much—braiding the loaf directly on the pan where it will bake also makes the process much easier.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup milk
  • teaspoons (about 1 envelope/7 grams) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, see Note
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks

Egg wash

  • 1 large egg well beaten with a pinch of salt
  • 1 cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan lined with parchment or foil

Method

  1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it is just lukewarm, about 110°F (45°C). Pour the milk into a small bowl and whisk in the yeast. Use a small rubber spatula to stir in 1 cup of the Hour thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes. The mixture will become bubbly and somewhat risen.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse repeatedly until the butter is evenly distributed throughout the resulting liquid. At this point the mixture may appear separated—it will come together as soon as some of the flour is added.
  3. Scrape the yeast mixture into the bowl and pulse 6 times to mix it in thoroughly. Add 1 cup of the remaining Hour and pulse again until the flour is completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Use a thin-bladed metal spatula to scrape down the inside of the bowl. Add the remaining flour and pulse again until incorporated. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Start the food processor and allow it to run continuously for 10 seconds. Invert the food processor bowl over a floured work surface to turn out the dough. Carefully remove the blade and transfer any dough on it to the surface. Use a bench scraper to fold the dough over on itself 5 to 6 times, adding pinches of flour if necessary, until it is slightly more elastic.
  5. Use a bench scraper or a knife to divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough under the palms of your hands until it is approximately 12 inches (30 cm) long. If the dough is too sticky to roll, slide it into a small floured pan and refrigerate it for about 20 minutes. Place the cylinders of dough lengthwise in the center of the length of the prepared pan, about ½ inch (1 cm) apart from each other.
  6. Starting in the middle of the dough, braid the cylinders of dough over one another. When you reach the end, pinch the ends of the dough together and turn them under. Turn the pan around and repeat the braiding and finishing on the other side of the loaf.
  7. Cover the braid with a towel or buttered plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature of the room.
  8. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C).
  9. Immediately before placing the braid in the oven, brush it with the egg wash. Be sure to clean off the brush every time you dip it in, to avoid having the egg wash puddle at the bottom of the braid. Bake the braid until it is well risen and deep golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Slide the braid on the parchment paper onto a rack to cool.

Serving

Slide the braid onto a cutting board and slice it at the table. Serve it with fruit preserves but no butter for breakfast or brunch.

Storage

Keep the braid loosely covered with plastic wrap on the day it is baked. Wrap and freeze for:K longer storage. Defrost, reheat at 350°F (180°C) for 7 to 8 minutes, then cool before serving.

Variations

BRIOCHE LOAVES: Divide the dough in half after it is mixed. Butter two 8½ × 4½ × 2¾-inch (22 × 5 × 7-cm) loaf pans and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment or buttered wax paper cut to fit. Evenly press one of the pieces of dough into each pan. Allow the dough to rise, covered, until it completely fills the pans. Bake as below. These loaves might require a few minutes more baking time since they are thicker.

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