My mom used to make brioche in the late evening for the next morning’s breakfast. But no matter how hard we tried, we never could wait that long. Within minutes of touching the cooling rack, the brioche would be sliced, most probably buttered (yup), and in between mouthfuls of buttery, buttery bread were our usual non-promises to stop snacking at midnight. It’s just that freshly baked brioche is really, really hard to resist, what with the glossy mahogany crust, the fragrant crumbs, and when made at home, the faint scent of butter wafting across the kitchen — incredible.
While this particular brioche bread — a family recipe! — is light and airy, it’s also sturdy. It can be used for toast (slathered with nutella and chopped almonds, of course), for sandwiches (if you omit the bergamot), or in any baking that requires stale bread; I have a recipe for an upgraded French toast coming in a few days!
Mom’s recipe was originally meant for the breadmaker, but I’ve made it twice using a loaf and a muffin pan. (I used the Tartine Bakery and Bouchon Bakery books as references.) Depending on how keen you are, the process of making brioche can take up a day or two, because the dough needs to be refrigerated overnight or for a few hours. It seems like a huge hassle, BUT it’s worth the effort. I prefer making it over two days…less stressful.
Brioche with bergamot
A family recipe. The measurements here are by weight, but I’ve tried my best to get the approximate cups. For a richer brioche, you can play around with the ratio of eggs and milk as long as you keep it to 300ml. If you can’t find bergamot essential oil, a good substitution is orange blossom water.
A standmixer. Loaf pans and/or 6-cup muffin pans.
305ml of liquid, which you can accomplish with:
300ml of 2 or 3 well beaten eggs + enough milk to top off
5ml – 2 tsp of vanilla extract and a few drops of bergamot essential oil
500g (3 1/2 cups) flour
100g (1/2 cup/1 stick) softened butter, cut into cubes
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
10g (2 teaspoon) salt
10g dry instant yeast (about 1 packet)
Eggwash: Whisk one egg with a splash of heavy cream.
- Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a standmixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir to distribute the ingredients evenly. Pour all of the wet ingredients into the bowl and stir on low speed for 4 minutes. The dough will be shaggy, but it will eventually come together. Continue to mix until the dough begins to pull off the side of the bowl.
- Add the butter a few pieces at a time; it helps to place the butter in the middle of the dough where it meets the dough hook. Turn up the speed to medium and wait until each portion of butter is fully incorporated before adding more. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. The dough will be ready when it becomes uniformed, it should be glossy and smooth and elastic, about 15-20 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl. Cover with a plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours. Halfway through, give the dough a gentle turn: grab the underside of the dough, stretch it out and fold it back over itself, rotate the container and repeat. Cover and set the bowl aside. Repeat the turn at the end of the last hour and refrigerate overnight. If you’re making it the same day, let it rest in the fridge for a few hours before shaping it.
- Grease and flour your pans and set aside. Gently turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface.
- Divide the dough into two equal portions. Cut each portion into 6 pieces and space evenly in the loaf pans. Cover with a plastic wrap or tea towel and let it rise until it doubles in size and reaches the edge of the pan, about 2-3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Brush the top of each loaf with an eggwash. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and baked through. Turn out immediately on a cooling rack.