No More Lopsided Brioche (A Beginner’s Guide)

Brioche 2b sq

It was the beginning of a slight obsession.

After knowingly eating buttery Brioche for the first time a few weeks ago, I promptly purchased 8 Brioche rolls for 4$ at the Central Market bakery.  Yikes!  At that price, I wanted to learn how to make them myself.

brioche b sm

Disclaimer: I am not French nor do I know much about authentic French Brioche. I have been to Paris but my memories are overshadowed by having my airplane ticket stolen while riding the subway back to the airport! Maybe I should call these Texas-style Brioche because they are  at least as good as what I can buy at Central Market in Ft. Worth.

I experimented with several recipes using both the bread machine and a stand mixer (i.e. Kitchen Aid mixer).

I mixed and baked and baked and ate. My family consumed my experiments for Thanksgiving, co-workers ate them for snacks, the husband dutifully tasted and opinionized and of course, I carefully analyzed each variation myself–slathering them with Nutella, cherry butter, no butter and creamed tarragon shrimp one day when I was feeling fancy.

And yes, Jenny, I threw a few stale ones in the trash because I have no room in my freezer for more bread. “Better in the waste than on the waist” I often say.

In the end, my favorite dough came out of a stand mixer. The bread machine works too but IMHO, the texture is slightly better out of the mixer.

In case you’re wondering, making it by hand is out of the question for me.  If you are so inclined, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.

These would be perfect for Christmas or Sunday dinner because you can make the dough ahead of time.  The rising period is also rather long so you have time to focus on other last minute details.

To my friend Daphne (a co-worker who raves about these rolls):  Here’s the recipe as promised.  I hope they turn out great for you.

Paula’s Recipe Notes:

  1. This recipe couldn’t be simpler–dump all ingredients in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and beat 15 minutes or until dough magically turns in to a shiny, elastic ball. Recipes with instructions to add the ingredients in stages, particularly the butter, didn’t turn out any better for me than mixing everything at once.
  2. Using part bread flour improves the texture without compromising tenderness. If you don’t have bread flour, substitute all-purpose unbleached flour.
  3. No more lopsided “hats” with my method of forming Brioche. Nearly all recipes I read call for the small balls or topknots to be placed on top of the larger rolls before the final rise.  This DID NOT WORK for me.  They would not stay in place no matter how big a hole I punched, or how firmly I pressed the ball into the center. Some methods resulted in a roll with the appearance of a big pimple on top.  I wanted a cute little hat! I’m probably not the first to figure this out but I haven’t see it in any other recipe. READ on to find out how I do it. If you are a total bread-making klutz, you can leave the hats off or make a loaf instead.
  4. Removing  rolls from a muffin pan uninjured can be challenging. When I discovered individual silicone plastic pans/molds, my troubles were over and all was right with my Brioche. I love the pink brioche-style molds available from World Market.  Nothing sticks to them and it’s not even necessary to grease them ahead of time. Be careful not to crowd rolls on the cookie sheet so they will brown well on all sides. The same molds work perfectly for cupcakes too. If you are using muffin pans, be sure to butter them well.
  5. Because the dough is well-chilled before rolls are formed, it handles beautifully. I was scared by rumors I’d heard about sticky dough but not so. If the dough does get warm and difficult to handle, it can be returned to the fridge.  Recipes that leave out the refrigeration time are suspect in my book.

 

Brioche dough in mixer

After 15 minutes in stand mixer--magic happens.

 

portioning Brioche

forming brioche story board.


Basic Brioche
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Easy recipe for Brioche made with stand mixer or bread machine. Includes fool-proof method for forming classic Brioche roll with a topknot.
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 12 rolls
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter, room temperature (Important!!)
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1-3/4 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast
Glaze:
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon heavy cream whisked together well.
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to mixing bowl of stand mixer and set speed on LOW until flour is moistened. Increase speed to just below MEDIUM and set the timer for 15 minutes. You can pretty much walk away during this time. When ready, dough with be shiny and elastic and the bowl will be clean with all dough sticking to the paddle. ( If using a bread machine, dump all ingredients into pan and set on dough cycle. Dough will be sticky but do not add extra flour.)
  2. Dough should be allowed to rise for 1-1/2 to 2 hours in warm place immediately after mixing and kneading. Then gently release dough from the sides to remove some of the air.
  3. Cover bowl (mixing bowl or bread machine bowl) and place in refrigerator for 6-24 hours. Do not skip this part. If you don't have time for the chill, you might want to make another kind of bread.
  4. Remove dough to lightly floured board and mold into a ball. Cut in half. Cut each half in half --you should now have 4 pieces. Cut each of those in half (giving you 8 balls) and then cut each of those in half giving you a total of 16 balls. Pull a small amount off each of the 16 balls to make hats. Roll all portions into little balls. The smoother the better and practice helps. Place one large ball in each mold or fill muffin tin. Place all small balls (future hats) on wax paper, parchment or silicone mat on cookie sheet. Cover all with tea towels and allow to rise in warm place until almost double. This may take 1-2 hours.
  5. When rolls have almost doubled in size, use greased thumb to carefully depress dough in the center. Don't worry, it will spring back once it hits the oven. Brush with glaze. Place a small ball in the center of the roll and again brush entire roll with glaze taking care not to let glaze pool at the edges between the dough and the mold.
  6. Place individual molds or muffins pans on cookie sheet to keep the bottoms from over-browning. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Then reduce temperature to 375 degrees and bake rolls for about 15 minutes. Loosely cover rolls with foil if tops are getting too dark. Internal temperature should reach 185-190 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Best eaten the same day but also good toasted the next day.

 

 

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie December 17, 2010 at 11:05 am

These rolls are absolutely delicious. I was lucky enough to sample a few as well and they are still good several days later. Just popped them in the microwave and heated briefly. Your talent continues to amaze me!!

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Karen December 17, 2010 at 11:36 am

Wow Paula, these are fabulous! They look like they came straight from a French bakery. You are one very talented baker. :-)

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Katrina December 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Gorgeous. Great job. You rock in the bread baking department. ;)

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Der December 17, 2010 at 8:28 pm

I love your step-by-step pictures… I feel like I just watched you make them!!
Maybe I will work up the courage to try making these one day:+)

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Jill December 17, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Wow, those look gorgeous! I’ve been wanting to make brioche, so I appreciate your tips, including the one about the molds at World Market!

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sis December 18, 2010 at 4:46 pm

I like the new “look” of the blog.

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Paula December 18, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I wish I could have been in your kitchen while these were baking! Bet they taste as wonderful as they look! Great job Paula!

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Paula December 19, 2010 at 4:05 am

wow, these buns are absolutely awesome!

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ldh December 20, 2010 at 7:48 am

Oh, you mastered these! I love how cute they are but I would also like to make a loaf. Any ideas how long they would need to bake?

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Paula December 20, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Lorraine, I know you make a lot of bread. Do you use a thermometer? If so, just bake it to 190. Otherwise, will depend some what on the size of your pan. At least 25-30 minutes I would think. I usually stick to the rolls.

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Michelle December 21, 2010 at 6:02 am

Perfectly beautiful. My one and only brioche-baking experience did not end as well. This is really lovely.

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Paula December 21, 2010 at 6:21 am

Thanks Michelle, Honestly, my first attempt was a disaster as well. Practice helps–as well as a good recipe.

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Suzanne December 24, 2010 at 12:17 am

These rolls look wonderful, homemade rolls are the best can’t wait to try these out.

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Fleur January 6, 2011 at 3:24 am

wow, I am going to try these this weekend!
I’ll post it up on my blog and link to you
can’t wait!

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Fleur January 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I did it! It is so delicious! thank you so much for this recipe. I’m going to make even more this weekend for some friends!
http://www.fleursfood.com/2011/01/glazed-french-brioche.html

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Paula January 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Congratulations Fleur. Always great to hear about a success!

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tjs February 3, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Can you substitute 1/4 c warm milk for the water/dry milk?

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tjs February 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I have a couple more questions:
1. Is there a reason you use the paddle attachment instead of the dough hook?
2. Why 3 rises with the instant yeast? Everything I have read (including the directions on the bottle) state that you only need a short 10-minute rest period and 1 rise.

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Paula February 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

The paddle attachment is more efficient.

The three rises aren’t necessarily for the yeast. It is important to get the correct texture in the rolls because they contain so much butter and eggs. Without the chill, the dough would be impossible to handle.

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Chung-Ah @ Damn Delicious May 21, 2011 at 1:32 am

These are just too cute!

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Sara June 3, 2011 at 9:03 am

After 15 minutes on medium speed in my KitchenAid, I did not get a shiny ball on the paddle mixer. I used room temp butter and eggs. What do you consider just below medium speed on a KitchenAid? I have 10 settings, so I set it on 4, but it seemed fairly fast. I kept mixing for another 4 minutes, after scraping the sides of the bowl, but to no avail. I refrigerated the dough anyway, and will attempt to complete the brioche today, but I wonder what I did wrong with my dough.

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santiya September 4, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Hey there! I found your brioche recipe via a search for brioche on Foodgawker. I simplified it even more but baking it in a pullman loaf pan. The result is most beautiful toast ever to grace the planet.

I wanted to thank you for posting this recipe. I have made many types of bread before but never tackled brioche as I thought it would be too complicated (I don’t know where I got this idea!) and your encouragement to just dump in all the stuff and mix for 15 min – really worked! It was a very beautiful dough, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t cool the dough, against your warning, and still achieved a slice of toast the likes of which I have never encountered.

Really, thanks so much!

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santiya September 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm

BTW, I did not have any bread flour so I used all purpose (2 3/4 c – 3c) with 1 T vital wheat gluten. It worked out just fine.

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