BBA Challenge Bread #4: Brioche

Ahhh, Brioche. Yum!

This week of the BBA Challenge was definitely one of the messiest, but also one of the easiest and most delicious. It’s weird to think that a bread can be both simple to make and incredibly messy, but this bread is certainly both. It’s also not for those watching their weight, as it takes an incredible amount of butter! The book offers three versions of Brioche, named “Rich Man’s,” “Middle-Class,” and “Poor Man’s,” depending on the amount of butter. The Rich Man brioche recipe is equal parts flour and butter! I chose to make the “Middle Class” version simply because it was in the middle, and once I tasted the finished product I knew I’d made the right choice — it was plenty buttery but I didn’t have to feel that guilty eating it!

Like all the breads, this one starts with a sponge, but in this one you use milk instead of water for the liquid. I even went out and bought whole milk just for this recipe (we usually drink 1% at home). If you’re going to be making this, I recommend setting out all your ingredients when you set up the sponge, because you need to let the butter come to room temperature before using it (I let the eggs come to room temperature too, even though the recipe doesn’t specifically say to). While the sponge grows, your other ingredients can warm up!

I actually had to do this step twice because I missed the part saying the milk needs to be lukewarm and mixed the sponge using cold milk, but when I came back to check it 20 minutes later absolutely nothing had happened. I immediately knew what I’d done wrong, without even having to look at the book, which begs the question: how did it mess it up the first time? Yeah I have no idea!

Anyway, once I used lukewarm milk as instructed (heating in the microwave 30 seconds is just about right) and waited another 20 minutes, the sponge was very bubbly:

After adding the eggs and dry ingredients, you let the dough sit for 5 minutes to develop the gluten, then you start adding butter:

You keep adding the butter, a quarter at a time, until it’s all mixed in. At this point the dough looked like no bread dough I’ve ever seen, the consistency was somewhere between frosting and bread dough. And after mixing for 6 more minutes:

I honestly cannot imagine mixing this bread by hand! I was really thankful to have my gorgeous KA mixer do the job for me.

See the texture of the dough?

Reminds me of buttercream frosting!

An awesome thing about this bread is it requires no kneading! You go from mixer to tray to fridge, and then you wait. The book says to rest in the fridge at least 4 hours, but I waited about 8 hours because of my schedule that day. When the dough came out of the fridge, I couldn’t tell if it had changed or grown at all:

But when I checked that part of the recipe, I saw that it didn’t mention anything about growth, so I figured it was fine. After all, eveything in this book is explained in such great detail that a total lack of description must mean no change!

I went on to shape two loaves using the book’s rolling method:

This is not the way I normally shape loaves, but this dough is so weird that I thought I should go with the book’s instructions. The book says to shape quickly while the dough is still cold, and I could really see why: the cold dough was much closer to modeling-dough consistency than the room-temperature dough had been. While cold, I was able to stretch the dough fairly easily and then roll it up into a log without too much trouble. I cannot even imagine doing that with room-temperature dough!

One of the most annoying parts of shaping the dough was getting it OFF the parchment paper. Even though I’d sprayed the paper “lightly” like the book says, my dough stuck to the paper fiercely and I had to scrape it off. I even have evidence:

See how much was left behind? Next time I make this I will be using a LOT more spray butter on that parchment, believe me!

After the alloted 2-hour proof, my loaves really hadn’t risen as much as I thought they should:

A (very sticky) poke test confirmed that the dough was not yet proofed enough, so I waited another 30-40 minutes and checked them again, and this time they were done:

(In this shot you can see that the tops got ruined because they got stuck to the plastic wrap)

With the egg wash on top, the loaves came out of the oven a gorgeous, shiny golden color:

I was so excited when they came out because they looked so good!

And out of their pans they’re even better, if that’s possible:

One of these loaves came to work with me the next day and got absolutely devoured by my coworkers. I’m pretty sure most of them had never had Brioche before! They are really lucking out with this whole BBA Challenge thing . . .

As I look through my photos of this bread, I realize I didn’t take any pictures of the inside! I’m making this again tonight to serve my parents for dinner tomorrow, so I’ll take shots of the inside then and add them to this post. There’s certainly none left of the first 2 loaves, that’s for sure! The amazing, light-as-air, buttery, & crumbly texture made it nearly impossible to stop eating this bread once we started. In an effort to make up for the half-stick of butter we each ate (yes, each of these loaves has an entire stick of butter in it!), we went on a few extra long walks with the dog . . . guess we’ll have to do the same tonight, as I’m sure we won’t be able to wait until tomorrow to break into the next batch of Brioche!

Want to join us in the BBA Challenge? Get yourself a copy of Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice, the incredibly comprehensive how-to-book for bread, and play along! Full details on the challenge are here.

12 thoughts on “BBA Challenge Bread #4: Brioche”

  1. That looks so very nice. Great job.
    I think we all should have weighed ourselves BEFORE the challenge and in a year when we are all done. OH MY!
    Have fun,

  2. Beautiful loaves! And it’s relieving to see the texture of the dough, my is resting in the fridge right now, and I was a bit worried about the consistency.

    And yes, I should definitely do some extra walks with my dog too.

  3. Your loaves are just gorgeous. The golden colour is perfection. I’m looking forward to seeing the inside of yours. I made the middle version as well but I just didn’t love it.

  4. Well and joly dee,all the oohs, ahhs!
    All well and good,but! oops!where are the “ingredients”? Eggs, flour etc.What and how much? By the way,the picture looks lovely,if only I could achieve same result.
    Was it made in a “bread maker” or a “mixer” ? Incidently I have a “Kenwood Chef” mixer.
    Since I failed to make the brioche after failing each time,I despair.
    No laughing matter I assure you.
    In hopes you’d be able to help,advance thanks.

  5. Kathleen: I didn’t include the recipe in my post because it’s not my own recipe, it’s from a book called the Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

    I’ve never used a bread machine so I’m afraid I can’t help you with that! All the bread I make is mixed and kneaded by hand or in my mixer, and baked in my oven.

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