Portion/Yield:Makes 2 loaves
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 flavour. 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 Note). If you do have any leftover 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.
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
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 80g caster sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 60g 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 surface, then knead until it becomes smooth and silky. Shape it into a round ball and place it in the greased bowl. Cover with a clean dry tea towel or cling film and leave to prove (rise) in a warm place until doubled in size. The proving time will depend on the room temperature and can take up to about 40 minutes.
While the bread is proving, 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 proving, so be gentle), then cut the dough in half. Gently shape each piece of dough into a log/sausage shape to fit the tin. Place each portion into a prepared loaf tin with the smooth edge to the top and the fold at the bottom of the loaf tin. Lightly cover the loaves again and leave to prove again in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until well risen. 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 cutting.
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 will enjoy fresh brioche at all times.