Julia’s Brioche

A few weeks ago, when I was making my kids Croque Monsieur for dinner I picked up some store-bought brioche. Delicious, but a touch expensive, but definitely a delicious treat!

I hadn’t made brioche since culinary school many moons ago, so I decided to give it a go. Naturally, I immediately reached for my copy of Baking with Julia.

Julia was apparently one of my early role-models, my mom tells stories of me “cooking” on my grandma’s front steps as a preschooler. I’m going to have to get her to find a photo of that. Julia is the inspiration for the pegboard wall in my kitchen that you may have seen in the background of some of my photos. Hanging in my dining room, is this print, that I received for Christmas last year.

If you are short on time, brioche is definitely not the bread for you to bake. You will need a total of about 12 hours of rising time to make this bread properly. Here’s the recipe I used, adapted from a Julia’s recipe:

Julia’s Brioche

makes 3 loaves

First you will need to make The Sponge. I think of this as a warm-up for the yeast to all the rising it will be doing during this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 C warm milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 C all-purpose flour

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of your KitchenAid, combine milk, yeast, egg, and 1 C of the flour.
  2. Mix ingredients with a rubber spatula until combined.
  3. Sprinkle the other 1 C of flour over the mixture, covering it completely.
  4. Set The Sponge aside to rest, uncovered, for about 30 mins.
  5. After a few mins the flour topping will start to crack, that’s how you know thing are going as they should.

 

Here’s my sponge volcano starting to crack…

Once The Sponge has finished his initial rise, you can start to make him into The Dough. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temp

Instructions:

  1. Add sugar, eggs, and 1 C of the flour to  The Sponge. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until ingredients begin to come together.
  2. Add 1/2 C more flour; when flour is incorporated, increase speed to medium and mix for about 15 mins. Scrape down bowl and dough hook as needed.
  3. During the 15 min mix, dough will come together, wrap around the hook, and begin to “slap” the sides of the bowl. This is what Julia says. I laughed when I read it, but sure enough, about 10 mins in: slap slap slap rhythmically on the bowl!
  4. With the mixer on medium-low, begin to add the butter, a tbsp at a time.
  5. When all the butter has been added, turn speed up to medium and mix for about 5 mins. Scraping bowl and dough hook as needed.
  6. Your finished dough should be cool, soft, and a bit sticky.
  7. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. During this time the dough will double in size.

    before first rise

  8. After 2 hours, deflate the dough by lifting & dropping the sides gently. Cover and refrigerate the dough overnight. It will continue to rise, and may double in size again.

    after refrigeration

  9. After the dough is refrigerated, you can freeze it for later use or shape it into some loaves immediately.

Proofing and Baking:

Fun fact: There are 2 kinds of brioche loaves. One is called a tête (French for head) and is baked in a special pan. The other is called a Nanterre, and is more of a traditional loaf. Since I don’t have a special brioche pan (Santa, are you listening?) I went with a Nanterre. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe brioche dough (see above)
  • 1 large egg, beaten with a tbsp of cold water for egg wash

Instructions:

  1. Butter 3 loaf pans, set aside.
  2. Divide the dough into thirds. Each of the thirds will become a loaf of brioche.
  3. Divide each third into 6 equal pieces, and roll into balls.
  4. Place the balls in loaf pan side-by-side in three short rows of 2. Repeat with remaining dough & pans.

    2 regular-sized pans, 1 mini

  5. Cover the pans with plastic  wrap sprayed with cooking spray and allow to rise at room temp for 2 hours or until double in size.

    after the rise

  6. Preheat the oven to 375F
  7. Lightly brush loaves with egg wash.
  8. Using a sharp pairing knife, cut a small cross into the top of each dough ball.
  9. Bake for about 30 mins until browned. If the loaves are browning too fast, you can cover them loosely with aluminum foil.
  10. Carefully remove from pans & cool on a rack.
  11. Put loaves in freezer bags & refrigerate ir freeze until ready for use. Slice as needed, as slices will go stale quickly.
  12. Use for sandwiches, French toast, or bread pudding!

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