Middle Class Brioche (story of an obsession)

Peter Reinhart recipe again.  While I think this is my favorite brioche recipe (I have tried a wide number of these, I am a bit obsessed with brioche), it’s not just the recipe itself but the actual titles–Reinhart has three versions, Rich Man, Poor Man, and Middle Class.  It’s all about the butter and egg content.  The Rich Man’s brioche evidently boasts the same fat to flour ratio as pie crust dough–the only difference is the yeast!  I know my station and have stuck with middle class brioche, which has been plenty decadent for me.  (Poor Man’s brioche is apparently best for working with to wrap foods en croute, such as that brioche baked brie that was so popular by the university caterers when I was in college, though not particularly beloved by me).

This brioche can be made in one day or split into two (allowing the first rise to occur overnight in the refrigerator); the latter being my preferred method.  I can’t tell you if there’s that much difference in taste, but it just seems easier to fit into your schedule that way.

The first step is to make a sponge.  It’s basically a pre-ferment, with a bit of flour, liquid and yeast to develop flavor.  In the case of brioche, as it is a richer dough, you make the sponge with milk rather than water.  This takes up to an hour.

Then you mix in eggs.  I used our CSA eggs which have that gorgeous orangey hue:

Brioche sponge with egg

Brioche sponge with egg mixed in

Then you beat in the softened butter and flour.  You can do this by hand but, like the ciabatta, it’s a bit harder on the arms than regular kneading.  This time, unlike the ciabatta, I did not hesitate to pull out my lovely kitchenaid stand mixer.  And it worked like a charm.

Brioche dough

You then spread the dough into a wide pan overnight to rise;

Brioche dough set to rise overnight

then get it first thing in the morning so you can get started on the next step (OK; that may not be essential, but the earlier you get going, the earlier you’re eating brioche!).  Here I’ve started dividing the dough into the main bulk of each of two loafs, plus the smaller cone that is inserted into the center of the larger loaf.

Brioche post-rise

Did I say I’m kind of obsessed with brioche?  You don’t have to use brioche tins, but they are more fun:

Brioche tin collection

After shaping the loafs, you leave them for their final rise:

Shaped brioche for final rise

And wait for them to grow into their molds.  It does take a bit longer than “regular” dough (2 1/2 – 3 hours for these large loaves); I imagine it’s all the fat in the dough weighing it down.  (Something to think about as you eat it perhaps?)

Risen brioche


Risen brioche closeup

Once you bake them, let them cool and enjoy!

Final brioche closeup


Brioche closeup

I suppose you can put more butter on this but I never do.  I do love to toast it (it’s almost as if the butter inside melts within, and you have bread buttered from the inside out) and smear it with raspberry preserves.  Or just eat it.

We all decided this was my best batch of brioche yet.  I can only imagine (1) using the farm fresh marigold colored eggs and (2) using whole milk had something to do with it.  (We used to not have whole milk in the house; now with a toddler we buy it by the gallon!).  Some other points to add about brioche is I find that instant yeast works best.  I’ve tried fresh yeast and active dry yeast as well, but they don’t seem to have enough oomph to get the dough to rise overnight in the refridgerator.  In particular, with brioche, it seems to me the extra power of instant yeast helps.  Back to my theory that all that fat is weighing down the dough, I guess.

Whatever it is, the finished bread is anything but heavy:  rather, wonderfully light yet rich.  Is it any wonder I’m slightly obsessed?

Closeup of brioche


6 thoughts on “Middle Class Brioche (story of an obsession)

  1. Hi, I finally got the BBA book, and I know it’s not brioche’s term yet in the challenge, but I wanted to be prepared and get the brioche mold. I know I don’t need them, but the result looks so pretty! Anyway, by flipping thru the book I couldn’t figure out (I guess, it’s mentioned SOMEWHERE) how big the molds are. So, how big are your molds for these 2 big brioches you made? I can get molds that are 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,11 and 14 cm in diameter….

  2. Pingback: BBA Challenge #4: Brioche « Three Clever Sisters

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