This brioche bread recipe is based on the classic French baked treat. While it is time consuming to make, brioche is well worth the effort! We think you’ll fall in love with its thin golden crust, rich buttery flavour, and soft crumb. Paired with an espresso, a slice of brioche spread with jam, can practically sweep you away to a Parisienne café.
What Is Brioche?
Brioche is an enriched pastry-like bread originating from France. It’s easily recognizable by its golden exterior, paper thin crust, and soft buttery crumb. Brioche comes in many forms – rolls, braided loaves, brioche à tête, baguettes, boules – and is versatile for sweet or savoury applications.
Brioche dough is often used as a base to make sweet breads like babka or cinnamon rolls. Ours is a basic recipe, but you can expand on it. With recipes like white chocolate cardamom babka and apple cinnamon rolls, the list is endless.
Is Brioche Hard To Make?
Like most homemade bread, making brioche isn’t a quick endeavour, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to make! Because it requires a lot of kneading in order to develop a soft, lacy crumb, we admit it is time consuming.
Kneading butter into dough can be quite a task, especially if you’re doing it by hand. As such, we find brioche easiest to make with a stand mixer.
Do You Need A Stand Mixer To Make Brioche?
A stand mixer will make this brioche bread recipe much easier for you, however, if you don’t have access to one, you can knead the brioche dough by hand. Kneading by hand will double the amount of kneading time. Alternatively, you could try using a hand mixer fitted with dough hooks, and a large bowl.
How To Make Brioche Dough
There are several ways to make brioche. Most methods have 2 to 3 stages for the dough formation, not including proofing times.
This brioche recipe comes together in two stages:
- Stage 1 – Activating the yeast and mixing the base dough.
- Stage 2 – Kneading in softened butter one tablespoon at a time (the most time consuming step aside from the dough rising).
Adding Butter To The Dough
Fat content in butter can interfere with yeast activity. As such, it must be added to the dough, one tablespoon at a time, after the yeast has already activated.
Can You Use Margarine To Make Brioche?
Margarine can easily be swapped for butter, however, it doesn’t yield the same flavour. If possible, use unsalted margarine, otherwise, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe by half.
Five Tips For Making This Brioche Bread Recipe:
- Use a stand mixer. A stand mixer is your best friend when it comes to making brioche. Note that it will probably become quite warm during the kneading process.
- Use room temperature butter. The butter should have the same consistency as the dough – soft and smooth. This will make it easier to evenly incorporate. If the butter seems too hard, try smearing it against a clean work surface to get the right consistency.
- Your dough may fall apart during the first few butter additions. Don’t fret! This is normal. Keep kneading and your dough will eventually come together.
- Listen for *slapping* against the side of the mixer. During the kneading process your dough will *slap* against the inside of the mixing bowl. This sound is an indication you’re on the right track!
- The dough should not feel sticky after the final kneading. If your brioche dough is still sticky after the final knead add in a small amount of flour. Continue to knead until the dough is soft, smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky.
What Can You Do With Brioche Bread?
Brioche is often paired with sweet spreads, or used in desserts. That being said, it can also be used any way you would a standard loaf of bread.
Because brioche doesn’t contain much sugar it is also easy to pair with savoury ingredients like fresh herbs, meats, or cheeses. Brioche makes great sandwich bread, too.
Leftover brioche makes delicious bread pudding and makes the BEST French toast.
How To Store Brioche
Brioche is best the same day its baked, and can be stored for up to one day. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap or beeswax wrap and store it in an airtight container to help retain softness.
Can Brioche Be Frozen?
If you don’t plan to use your brioche right away, wrap it tightly in foil, and store it in the freezer for up to one month. To serve, defrost it at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before slicing. This brioche loaf recipe yields two loaves, so you can enjoy one and freeze the second for later.
Can Brioche Bread Be Made Vegan?
Because brioche is rich with butter, eggs and milk, it’s not an easy recipe to make vegan. Substitutions for this recipe may not yield the same flavour or texture. Moreover, it will be challenging to get the rich golden colour typical of classic brioche.
If you do want to give it a try, use margarine instead of butter, and omit the eggs. You will need to increase the liquid measure to compensate for the lowered moisture content, otherwise the dough will not come together.
Make These Bread Pudding Recipes With Your Leftover Brioche:
- Stand mixer optional
- Bench scraper
- 23 x 13 cm (9 x 5 cm) loaf tin
- pastry brush
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- ½ cup warm milk, 230ºF/110ºC
- 2 ¼ teaspoons 1 package active dry yeast
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs
- ¾ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together the milk, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- To the yeast mixture, add the flour, salt and 4 of the eggs. Mix until a loose ball forms. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until a smooth elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high to fully incorporate the butter, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl if need be. *Important notes for this step: The dough should start to make a *slapping* sound against the side of the bowl while mixing, and it may come apart during the first few butter additions. This is normal and it will come back together as you continue to mix.
- After all of the butter is incorporated, continue mixing for another 10-12 minutes or until a very smooth elastic dough forms. The dough should not stick to your hands. If it does, knead in a little more flour.
- Cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature for 2 to 2 ½ hours, or until doubled in size.
- Deflate the dough by scraping around the sides, then lifting around the circumference and bottom where the dough meets the bowl. Use your fingers to gently lift the dough away from the bowl. It will slowly go down in size.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4-6 hours, or overnight (it should double in size again during this time).
- Generously butter two 23×13 cm (9×5-inch) loaf tins. Deflate and transfer the dough onto a clean work surface.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, weighing about 3.5 ounces each. Roll each piece into a smooth ball and arrange, seam side down, in the prepared loaf tins in two rows of three balls. Cover the with a tea towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1½ hours or until the dough fills the pans.
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350ºF/180ºC.
- Lightly beat the remaining egg and lightly brush over the top of the dough. Be careful not to get egg on the inside of the loaf tin as this can impede a proper rise during baking.
- Bake each loaf for 30-35 minutes or until puffy and golden. Cool 5 minutes in the tins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.