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    Makes 2 loaves
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The aroma of freshly baked bread is hard to beat. It reminds me of home, the family gathered together around the kitchen table and happy times spent together, chatting away about anything and everything.

Brioche is rich in flavour and is almost cake-like in texture and taste. I prefer using fresh yeast to make brioche, but active dried yeast will work just as well, if you prefer to use this (I have included both options in my recipe below).

As this recipe is made from an enriched dough containing butter, egg yolks and milk, it’s best eaten on the day it’s made, but it is also suitable for freezing (see Cook’s Notes). If you do have any left over and the next day you find that the loaf has become slightly stale, I suggest you turn it into a brioche and butter pudding (a delicious twist on a traditional bread and butter pudding), or simply toast slices for breakfast or lunch.

photo of brioche

Ingredients & Method

  • 200ml milk
  • 30g fresh yeast or 14g dried active yeast (don't use fast-action dried yeast)
  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 60g softened unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing

Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it reaches 37°C (blood temperature), then remove from the heat, add the yeast and stir or whisk until dissolved. Cover with cling film and leave to stand for about 10 minutes, until a light frothy foam forms on the surface.

Sift the flour and salt into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, then stir in the sugar. Turn the mixer on to run at a slow speed, then gradually add the warm yeast mixture, mixing to form a dough. Knead the dough on a slow speed for 5 minutes, then add 4 of the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

With the mixer still running on a slow speed, gradually add the butter pieces, mixing until they are all incorporated, then continue kneading the dough for a further 2 minutes.

Grease a large mixing bowl and set aside. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, then knead until it becomes smooth and silky, about 4–5 minutes. Shape it into a ball and place in the greased bowl. Cover with a clean dry tea towel or cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. The rising time will depend on the room temperature and can take up to about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the baking tins. Grease two 18 x 9 x 5cm loaf tins, lightly dust them with flour, then set aside.

Once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, knock it back gently (remember you don’t want to lose all the air you have incorporated into the dough during rising, so be gentle), then cut the dough in half. Divide each portion of dough into 10 even pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball. For each loaf, place 10 balls of dough into a prepared loaf tin, arranging them in a single layer over the base of the tin. Lightly cover the loaves with a clean dry tea towel or cling film and leave to rise again (prove) in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Put the remaining egg yolk in a small bowl and break it up gently with a fork. Once the brioche loaves are ready to bake, gently brush the top of each one with the egg yolk. Bake the loaves in the oven for 30–40 minutes or until risen and deep golden brown (once they are cooked, the loaves will sound hollow when turned out and tapped underneath).

Remove from the oven and cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn the loaves out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely before slicing. Serve freshly baked with jam or chocolate spread for breakfast, or serve lightly toasted with a savoury pâté or terrine for lunch (see also Cook’s Notes).

Cook’s Notes
This brioche is best eaten on the day it is made. Store any leftover brioche in an airtight container and use within a day or two. If the leftover brioche is beginning to stale, toast it or use it to make a delicious brioche and butter pudding (a delicious twist on bread and butter pudding). Brioche is also suitable for freezing for up to 1 month (see below).

To ensure that you always have delicious brioche to hand, slice the brioche once it is cold, then seal the slices in freezer bags. Freeze on the same day as baking, then as and when required, remove the brioche slices from the freezer and toast from frozen or let the brioche defrost at room temperature before eating – this way you can enjoy fresh brioche at all times.

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