Pull-apart brioche loaf that’s subtly sweet, generously buttered and worth the time.
Éclairs taught me love. Brioche taught me patience.
Making brioche was an all-weekend endeavour, planning my schedule around proofings, constant poking around the kitchen and a whole lot of “Help me, Google!!” troubleshooting.
It’s because of this that bread making scares me.
Getting over that fresh yeast smell (think: warm garbage) is one thing; but it’s another to come back to your cute, compact ball of dough to an overflowing gooey mixture that’s nearly tripled in size by the hour. I can’t say I fully understand the science behind it, which is part of the reason why I find bread-making daunting and miraculous-mysterious at the same time.
In the making
✘ I accidentally bought instant yeast rather than active dry yeast, making my dough especially susceptible to over proof. Turns out, there isn’t a huge difference, and the two can be used interchangeably (one:one) with a few recipe adjustments. According to thekitchn.com, “active dry yeast has a larger granule and needs to be dissolved in water before using, while instant yeast has a more fine texture and can be mixed right into dry ingredients.”
So when using instant yeast, you can skip the first proof.
✘ Judge the dough by how much it’s risen and grown rather than the amount of time it says in the recipe. There are so many factors in the kitchen environment and type of kneading that make every bread-making experience different from baker to baker!
✘ Don’t over-proof the dough, or it’ll result in a very deflated – or collapsed – loaf. You can tell when the dough is well-proofed if you press your finger into it and it bounces back halfway. If it doesn’t move, it’s over proofed; if it completely returns to its round shape, it’s under proofed.
✔ Not to worry – you can save over-proofed dough! If it’s been over-risen, just deflate it, reshape it in the pan and let it rise again as instructed in the recipe.
✔ A long, cold rise in the fridge overnight helps reduce its yeasty taste for more emphasized butter and egg flavour.
✔ Work quickly after adding the butter. Too much warmth and handling will make the dough look oily.
A braided bundle of pull-apart egg bread to enjoy with jam, as french toast or even on its own.
- 1⁄3 cup warm whole milk (100- 110 degrees F)
- 2 1⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1⁄3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temp
- 1 1⁄2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (approx)
- 1⁄3 cup unsalted butter (170 grams) room temperature
Day one: the dough
- Put the milk, yeast, egg and 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer.
- Mix the ingredients together with a rubber spatula, mixing just until everything is blended.
- Sprinkle over the remaining cup of flour to cover the sponge and set it aside to rest uncovered for 30-40 minutes. After this resting time, the flour coating will crack, your indication that everything is moving along properly.
- Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge.
- Set in the mixer, attach the dough hook, and mix on low speed for a minute or two, just until the ingredients look as if they are about to come together.
- Still mixing, sprinkle in 1/2 cup more flour.
- When the flour is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 15 minutes, stopping to scrape down the hook and bowl as needed. During this mixing period, the dough should come together, wrap itself around the hook and slap the sides of the bowl.
- Thoroughly incorporate butter a few tablespoons at a time by smearing it on the dough, the dough hook or the side of the bowl. The idea is to make the butter the same consistency as the dough – smooth, but not oily. It’s is the point at which you’ll think you’ve made a huge mistake, because the dough that you worked so hard to make smooth will fall apart – don’t worry, don’t panic – carry on.
- When all of the butter has been added, raise the mixer speed to medium-high for a minute, then reduce the speed to medium and beat the dough for about 5 minutes, or until you once again hear the dough slapping against the sides of the bowl.
FIRST RISE: Transfer the dough to a very large buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2- 2 1/2 hours.
SECOND RISE AND CHILL: Deflate the dough with your hands by lifting sections of the side and letting it fall back into the bowl. Work your way around.
Cover it back up with plastic and refrigerate it overnight.
Day two: assembly
- Divide the dough into thirds. Use a food scale to measure equal amounts.
- Take one portion and divide it into three strand, each around 12 inches long.
- Pinch the top of the three strand together and begin to braid.
- Once braided, place in a bread pan.
- Do the same with the other two pieces of dough to make three loaves.
- Cover the pans with plastic and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 2 hours, or until doubled in size. You can speed up the process by covering the dough with a kitchen towel that’s soaked with warm water.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Lightly brush each loaf with egg wash, taking care not to let the glaze dribble into the pan (it will impair the dough’s rise). Sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds or even a bit of granulated sugar if you like.
- Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 200°F.
- Cool to room temperature on a rack.