Marie Antoinette became famous, or infamous, for her saying “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, loosely translated to “let them eat cake”. Well, if she was offering brioche to the masses, maybe it was not such a bad thing (relax, just kidding).
As it is brioche is my number one go to breakfast bread, even more so than the hallowed croissant, which I love as well. However, given a choice, which happens rarely, I would choose the brioche. I have memories from breakfasts in Paris when we sat down in a beautiful cafe or hotel, having hot milk and coffee poured into our cups simultaneously by an experienced waiter, and presented with a basket of brioche, butter and jam. Ahhh, Paris.
Brioche is rich and I wouldn’t change a thing as this is what it is about. No plant based low fat variations allowed here. If that’s what you want, watch for my next post which will be plant based fat free scones (quite good actually). But please do not temper with the brioche.
There are two variations of this special bread, one plain, one with “tête” (brioche a tete”, or “head”. See image below. I find it easier to keep it simple as the “tête”, if not secured properly, tend to lean to one side when baked.
1/2 cup water or milk lukewarm
2 tablespoon sugar
1 package yeast
4 cups flour
4 eggs at room temperature, mixed with a whisk
2 Sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature, cut in pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup cream for glazing
Combine milk, sugar and yeast in a bowl and stir to mix. Let rest about 5 minutes until the yeast activates and becomes foamy.
Place flour and salt in a mixer with a dough hook or bread machine and mix.
Add yeast and eggs and begin mixing on low speed.
Add the softened butter and continue mixing for about 5-7 minutes until the dough clears the sides of the bowls and is smooth and elastic. You can stop the machine a few times to scrape the dough that clings to the sides of the bowl. Add more flour, just a little, if necessary to reach the right consistency.
Remove the dough from the mixer onto a floured surface and finish kneading by hand until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a bowl and let it rise at room temperature for 1.5 hour until triples in size.
When the dough is ready punch it down and let rise again until triples in size. Alternatively, place the dough in the fridge, punching it down as necessary, and bake it the next day.
When the dough is ready, punch it down, divide into equal size balls, about 3 oz each and place them in buttered fluted brioche molds.
Set aside to rise until it double in size.
(to make brioche a tête (brioche with “head”, the little ball on top) use some of the dough to make small balls. With your finger press into each brioche, creating an indent. Place the smaller ball inside the indent.
Brush tops with the cream.
Bake in 400℉ oven for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve at breakfast with butter and marmalade.