Rich and Buttery Brioche

Brioche, Bacon and Egg Breakfast Sandwich

I really can’t believe I’ve already made it through week four of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge! The fourth bread we tackled from the book is brioche.  Yes, buttery and delicious brioche.  Although I love to eat the stuff, I had never before baked brioche at home so I was really looking forward to this one!

Peter Reinhart gives us a choice between three versions of a basic brioche: Rich Man’s Brioche, Middle Class Brioche, and Poor Man’s Brioche.  Since butter is the most expensive ingredient in this bread, it stands to reason that the Rich Man’s Brioche contains the most amount of butter (a whopping 16 ounces).  The Middle Class Brioche calls for a more moderate amount of butter, while the Poor Man’s Brioche almost seems healthy after reading the butter content of the other two.

My original plan was to try at least two different ‘classes’ of the brioche so that I could compare the results.  But it seems like time has just not been on my side when it comes to baking lately.  And since I’m the only one home these days, I really couldn’t justify baking that much brioche in one week.  It was really hard to decide which one to try, but at the last minute I said what the hell and jumped in with a full pound of unsalted European-style butter.

And I created the richest, butteriest brioche I’ve ever tasted.

Butter for Brioche

Like the other breads we’ve made so far, the Rich Man’s Brioche starts with a sponge.  I whisked together a bit of flour, yeast, and some lukewarm milk.

Mixing Brioche Sponge

After it’s mixed together, the sponge was given some time to ferment.

Fermenting Brioche Sponge

This sponge grew quickly, and had doubled in about half an hour.

Brioche Sponge after Fermentation

Next, I added five slightly beaten eggs.

Adding Eggs to Brioche Sponge

The eggs needed to be blended into the sponge before adding the extra flour.

Blending Eggs into Brioche Sponge

Next I added the mixture of flour, sugar and salt.

Adding Flour to Brioche Dough

And once again, let the mixer do it’s work.  I must say it was nice to have a week off from kneading after those bagels last week!

Blending Flour into Brioche Dough

Once the flour was completely incorporated, I was left with an extremely sticky dough!  I followed Mr. Reinhart’s instructions and let the dough rest for five minutes to develop the gluten before adding the fat.

Sticky Brioche Dough

And then I started adding the butter.  The butter needs to be at room temperature so that it’s easy to blend in.  Even though my butter had been sitting out for hours, it still wasn’t as soft as I would have liked.  Next time I’ll leave it out overnight.

Adding Butter to Brioche Dough

As I continued adding butter and mixing, I found that I had to switch to the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid mixer after the dough repeatedly climbed the paddle while mixing.  It was harder to mix the butter in while using the dough hook, but still much easier than trying to do it all by hand!

Adding More Butter to Brioche Dough

After the butter was all incorporated, I continued kneading the dough with the dough hook until it was smooth and satiny.  I’ve never worked with a dough like this…it was gorgeous!  Kind of looks like frosting, doesn’t it?  And yes, I tasted it (didn’t taste like frosing).

Smooth and Satiny Brioche Dough

Next I lined a baking sheet with parchment, misted it with oil, and scraped out my blob of butter, er, brioche dough.

Preparing Brioche Dough for Bulk Fermentation

Next I pushed it out into a rectangle before covering it with greased plastic wrap and putting it in the fridge for an overnight rest.

Preparing Brioche Dough for Bulk Fermentation 2

Since I don’t have any brioche molds, I decided to make brioche rolls like the ones I used to eat in Sicily.  They have the little top knot, like the French petite brioche à tête, but are baked on a sheet instead of in the little fluted molds.

I decided to divide the dough into three-ounce pieces for my rolls.

Weighing Brioche Dough

And I shaped them using instructions found both in the book and this great video tutorial. I did my best to photograph the shaping technique, but the video will probably be more helpful.

How to Shape Petites Brioches

How to Shape Petites Brioches 2

After shaping the petites brioches à tête, I covered them with greased plastic wrap and let them proof at room temperature.  Unfortunately, I think I let them proof too long (yep, did it again).  I say this in hindsight because they didn’t really have much oven spring.  But here they are, after proofing for almost 2 hours (an hour and a half would have been better):

Petites Brioches on New Baking Sheet

Before putting them in the oven, I brushed them lightly with an egg wash.  They were so soft and puffy that it was hard not to damage them with the pastry brush.  I switched to the silicone brush halfway through because it was a bit more gentle than the natural bristle brush I started with.

Brushing Petites Brioches with Egg Wash

Finally they went into a 400-degree oven and baked until they were a beautiful and golden brown.

Petites Brioches Out of Oven

I tried one while still slightly warm from the oven with a spoonful of raspberry jam.  It was SO delicious!  But these were by far the richest brioche I’ve ever tasted.  They were so rich, it was actually difficult to finish an entire roll in one sitting, and I rarely have such problems!

The next morning, I decided to make myself one of my favorite Sicilian breakfasts: granita and brioche! I had never made granita before, but I managed to create a slushy strawberry granita that reminded me a lot of what I used to eat in Catania.  The granita in Catania is very slushy, not as grainy as most of the recipes I’ve seen here.  So I processed my granita in an ice cream maker instead of using the ‘fork technique’ that I always read about.  It was perfect and ready to eat after less than ten minutes in the ice cream maker.  But I’ll write more about the granita in a different post.

All you need to know is that this is how I ate my breakfast yesterday:

Brioche with Strawberry Granita

Want another breakfast idea for these brioche rolls?  How about a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich?  Ok, I admit that this was overkill since the brioche was already too rich.  But it was SO GOOD!  Next time I make brioche, I’ll do the Poor Man’s Version so that I can eat my breakfast sandwiches with a little less guilt.

Brioche Breakfast Sandwich

And what I haven’t told you yet is that I also made this delicious Cinnamon Swirl Loaf from a portion of the brioche dough.  The recipe yields almost three pounds of dough, so I was able to make one Cinnamon Swirl Loaf in addition to all those mini brioches.

Sliced Cinnamon Swirl Brioche Loaf

If you want to know how made the Cinnamon Swirl Loaf,  feel free to check out the step-by-step photos on Flickr.

Overall, I’m glad that I tried the Rich Man’s Brioche.  It was a beautiful dough and the end result was delicious.  But I really don’t think I’ll ever make this version again.  It’s just too much.  I can see myself saving even the Middle Class Brioche for special occasions, and baking the Poor Man’s version for hamburger buns and breakfast brioche.

Now on to another type of brioche for next week…Casatiello!  And this next one is filled not only with butter, but salami and cheese, too!  (my poor, poor arteries)

The Next Bread

This week we will be making Casatiello.  Peter Reinhart describes it as “…a rich, dreamy Italian elaboration of brioche, loaded with flavor bursts in the form of cheese and bits of meat, preferably salami.”  Yes, please!  Vegetarians feel free to substitute anything you want for the salami, or just leave it out entirely.  Olives might be a fun substitution!  Unlike the others we’ve made so far, this bread can be made in one day.  The instructions begin on page 129 of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.   Good luck and happy baking!

Want to Bake Along With Us?

There are several ways for you to join in the fun!  First of all, you need a copy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  Read the first section of the book carefully, as this will prepare you for the bread recipes in the second section of the book.  Then just jump in and bake some Anadama Bread! But first, please visit The BBA Challenge Page for more details on how to participate in the group!

If you haven’t already, you might want to bookmark the BBA Challenge Page.  From there you can see which breads are coming up soon, find answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit and/or add yourself to our World Map, see the BBA Challenge Blogroll, and check out the continually updated slideshow of BBA Bread photos from our ever-expanding group of bakers!

Want to Win a Free Book?

Deborah from Italian Food Forever is giving away a copy of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice! To enter, visit Italian Food Forever and leave a comment that relates to bread (talk about your favorite bread, a story about bread baking, etc). That’s it!  You can enter as many times as you want until June 15.  A winner will be chosen randomly.  Good luck!

Brioche from other BBA Bakers

For those of you who are participating in The BBA Challenge, how did you like the brioche?  Which version did you make?  How did you shape it?  Did you learn anything new while using this formula?

And remember, if you wrote a blog post about Brioche, or have photos available online, please leave a comment and share your link!

And finally I would like to say congratulations to Nico and his family, who just welcomed a brand new baby boy into this world.  And if you can believe it, Nico still managed to write about his brioche from the hospital.  Welcome, baby Tomas!

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  1. Jude

    That buttery dough almost seems too rich. Looks impossible to do by hand, which is a good thing in my case.

    4:36 pm  Jun 11th, 2009
  2. Dave Jones

    Wow! sounds delicious….brilliant photo story.

    6:43 am  Jun 13th, 2009
  3. kellypea

    I’m loving your detailed posts as you work through the recipes. I’m finally making the rich brioche this weekend so thanks for all the “play-by” here. Gorgeous photos as always, too.

    9:45 am  Jun 13th, 2009
  4. Laurie Ashton Farook

    Mine were not the resounding success that yours were. I made the poor man’s version with sourdough and it failed. Nobody liked it. I ended up putting it into bread pudding with copious amounts of sugar to save it, and happily, that worked.

    I’m convinced it’s me, not the recipe.

    5:19 am  Jun 15th, 2009
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  6. rabbittrick

    Omg these made me fall off my chair. Absolutely delicious! They look simply gorgeous. Thanks for the step by step pictures! Can’t wait to try these =) I think they will revamp what breakfast is all about

    12:23 pm  Jun 16th, 2009
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  8. AP269

    Your brioches à tête look soooo cute! I made the poor man’s version and wouldn’t do it again unless I wanted plain white German bread. Next time I’ll go for the middle-class brioche and make them in Brioche pans. Here’s my post:

    3:25 pm  Aug 22nd, 2009
  9. Abby

    I made the middle class version based on what I read in other people’s posts…It was good, but not really my type of bread. I’m excited for the casatiello, though! Here’s my post:

    8:12 pm  Sep 17th, 2009
  10. Penny

    Your Brioches look so good…great pictures! I made the middle class and made some brioches à tête and one bigger one. They turned out really well.

    9:04 am  Oct 12th, 2009
  11. kyle

    Hey there I was wondering if you could pot an overall ingredients list for me 🙂 thanks

    9:56 am  Dec 12th, 2009
  12. Emily

    I did the Middle Class Brioche and it may have changed my life. I am going to have to try the full butter version next!

    5:02 pm  Jan 14th, 2010
  13. LarryB

    I’m running through BBA at a slightly faster pace because I want to be able to make and re-make the recipes with ease in the future.

    I just made the dough for the Middle-Class Brioche and was wondering how to form them without brioche molds. I want to be able to give some away for critique. I think I’ll use a muffin tin so they have a bit more pan-crust, and I’ll definitely try the shaping technique from the video.

    9:20 am  Feb 5th, 2010
  14. Gabreann

    I’ve got the same problem as you,

    5:37 am  May 17th, 2010
  15. Aastha

    I think we need to talk about this,lucy

    4:08 am  May 18th, 2010
  16. Girls Bedroom :

    my mother always buys the best kitchen aids that she can find on the market ::

    3:32 pm  Oct 29th, 2010
  17. Thermal Imaging %0A

    kitchen aids have a variety of different appliances that can help you cook your food easier .,;

    10:19 am  Nov 16th, 2010
  18. Rebel

    Oh my sweet lord… I love this post. My petite brioche a tete are rising right now (middle class for me). And it’s literally perfect timing for me to read this post, because they’ve risen for a little over an hour, and now I know not to let them go for the full two hours.

    God bless you for doing the rich man’s brioche (life is short!) and thank you for all the glorious pictures. I was trying to figure out the shaping technique from the book, but with only two pictures I wasn’t quite getting it. And if I haven’t gushed enough – that breakfast looks AMAZING… I hadn’t thought of making a sandwich out of my brioche, only ever had it with a bit of jam, or you know, just plain.

    Oh… and re: adding butter by hand, I did it *once* and the very next day I marched out to the store and bought my Kitchen Aid mixer! LOL.

    8:41 pm  Jan 19th, 2011
  19. hayvanc?l?k

    The Middle Class Brioche calls for a more moderate amount of butter, while the Poor Man’s Brioche almost seems healthy after reading the butter content of the other two.

    4:57 am  Feb 23rd, 2011
  20. Pierre

    Just did this to offer in a Xmas gift basket with some of my home-made lemon-marmelade. I did every step in “old-fashion”, using only a spatula, a whisk, and my own two bare hands. Being a 30y.o. dad of three, pharmacist, cyclist, hipster….my life is already very fun… but working this dough bare-handed was the most fun I had in a while!!!!

    As I’m writing this, the dough is resting in the fridge overnight, and I’ll bake it tomorrow. I plan on doing 2 braided loafs… can’t wait. I know somebody who’s gonna have a nice breakfast on Dec26th!!!

    12:56 pm  Dec 21st, 2011
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  23. K

    Is there a recipe for this? I want to make these…maybe I’m blind haha, but I can’t find it!

    9:00 am  Jun 5th, 2014
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