Brioche Bread

The doomed Marie Antoinette is often quoted as saying “qu’ils mangent de la brioche,” which means “let them eat brioche,” not “let them eat cake—gâteau!” Historians have doubts about the true author of this quote, but in any case it was brioche on their minds and not cake. Brioche can be enjoyed as a sweet bread with tea, as a breakfast pastry, or even as a flatbread base for savory toppings. Brioche is rich with butter, eggs, and a touch of honey.

Ingredients

1 1/2cups lukewarm water (100F or below)
1tablespoon Granulated yeast
1 to 1 1/2tablespoon Kosher salt
8large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2cup honey
1 1/2 (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for greasing the pan
7 1/2cups All-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)

Instructions

  1. Mix yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with water in a 6- quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
  2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). If not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled; don’t try to work with it before chilling. (You may notice lumps in the dough but they will disappear in the finished products.)
  3. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate.
  4. The dough can be used as soon as it’s thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours. Refrigerate the container of dough and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze the dough in 1- pound portions in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise times.
  5. To bake, grease an 8 1⁄2 × 4 1⁄2- inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 11⁄2- pound (small cantaloupe- size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter- turn as you go.
  6. Elongate into an oval and place in the prepared pan. Allow to rest for 90 minutes, loosely covered with plastic wrap.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. A baking stone is not required, and omitting it shortens the preheat.
  8. Using a pastry brush, glaze the top of the loaf with egg wash. Place the pan near the center of the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until medium golden brown and well set. Brioche will not form a hard, crackling crust. Allow to cool on a rack before slicing.

© 2013, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois, adapted from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (St. Martin’s Press).  More information at BreadIn5.com

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