How to Make Brioche at Home
Today: The difference between bread and dessert is just a few ounces of butter (and, hey, maybe some sugar too).
In baking terms, brioche is considered a viennoiserie, meaning that it is made from a yeast dough enriched with other ingredients that swings it a little closer to pastry than bread (another popular viennoiserie is the croissant). In brioche’s case, that richness comes from milk, eggs, a bit of sugar, and a seemingly impossible amount of butter — 6 ounces per loaf, to be exact.
All of that butter makes the most luxurious, fluffy dough, and let me tell you, a loaf of brioche baking away in the oven has the most intoxicating smell: warm, yeasty and very, very buttery. While you may not consider bread a dessert, try slathering a slice with Nutella and a sprinkling of sea salt, then tell me it’s not a sweet treat.
To make your own, you’ll need to start with with a simple enriched bread dough, to which you’ll add a very generous amount of butter. Then you have some choices to make: Do you want to make loaves that will be perfect to slice, then use for French toast or bread pudding? Or is it individual-sized treats that you’re after? Below, you’ll find instructions to shape the dough a couple of ways — and don’t worry, this recipe makes enough for you to try both.
Makes 2 loaves or 16 individual brioches
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup water, at 110º F
1/3 cup milk, at 110° F
2 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cool but pliable
2 tablespoons pearl sugar (optional)
Put the yeast, milk, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir gently to combine. Let it sit until it bubbles, about 5 minutes.