This classic French bread is rich and slightly sweet, with a soft, golden crust and a yellow, buttery, cakey crumb. It is widely eaten in France with coffee for breakfast, as a roll with dinner, or as a base for any number of desserts. At River Cottage, we like to toast brioche and serve it with a smooth chicken liver pâté, and a little fruit jelly.
Contrary to popular belief, as bread goes, brioche is pretty straightforward. The dough is very soft to handle though, so kneading in a food mixer is easier. You can make and bake brioche all in one day, but it benefits from sitting overnight in the fridge the very soft dough stiffens as it chills, making it easier to shape.
- Yield: 2 small loaves
- 400 g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 5 g powdered dried yeast
- 10 g fine salt
- 90 ml warm milk
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 100 g butter, softened
- 4 medium free-range eggs, beaten
- 1 medium free-range egg
- 2 tbsp milk
- To knead by hand mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, and bring it all together to form a dough. Knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and shiny.
- Or, to use a food mixer fit the dough hook and add all the dough ingredients to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until combined, and leave to knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and shiny.
- Shape the dough into a round, place in a bowl and cover tightly. Leave in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, divide the dough in two and form into the shape of your choice (see here). Lightly flour the loaves, lay them on a wooden board or linen cloth and cover with a plastic bag. Leave them somewhere nice and warm to prove until almost doubled in size; this could take 3 or 4 hours, as the dough is cold.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. For the glaze, beat the egg and milk together. Transfer the risen loaves to a baking tray and brush all over with the glaze. Bake for about 10 minutes, then lower the oven setting to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and bake for a further 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.