brioche

Freshly sliced brioche. Photo by Donna

December is the month for making brioche at home. It’s the great holiday bread.  Though calling it bread doesn’t do it justice.  Good brioche is like a cross between bread and cake.  Hell, it’s really cake sneaking in as bread. Nothing better on Christmas morning. It’s a celebratory bread—rich with butter and eggs.  Toast it and eat it with butter. Toast it and eat it with foie gras. It makes extraordinary and delicate croutons.  Nothing makes better French toast.  And it’s fabulous on its own, straight out of the oven.

I made it once for my daughter Addison.  When she asked for a repeat performance, I wrote the below recipe so that she could make it on her own. She first made it when she was eleven, four years ago, and she still makes it today.

The following is easy enough for an eleven year old if you have a standing mixer, but it’s best if it rises over night in the fridge. I bake it in a 1.5 liter pate mold but you can use any kind of loaf pan or mold you wish.  You can even divide the dough and bake them in ramekins or muffin molds for individual brioche servings.

Addison’s Brioche

  • 1 package active dry yeast (.25 ounces/7 grams)
  • 3 ounces milk
  • 1 pound bread flour
  • Three fingered pinch of salt
  • 2.5 ounces sugar (about 1/4 cup)
  • 5 eggs
  • 12 ounces butter (three sticks, each cut into four pieces, room temperature)
  1. Combine milk and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer and stir until the yeast is dissolved.  Add about 1/4 of the flour (a scant cup) and mix it well with the dough hook.  Allow this mixture to sit for one hour to ferment.
  2. Add the salt, sugar, eggs and the remaining flour.  Mix until the dough forms and pulls cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the butter one chunk at a time until it’s all been incorporated and a smooth soft dough has formed.  Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise to double its volume.
  4. Turn the dough out on floured surface and knead to deflate the dough and redistribute the yeast.  Shape it to fit in what every mold your using, cover loosely with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator one to two hours before baking it.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake until the crust is golden brown and the dough is cooked through, about 45 minutes.
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71 Wonderful responses to “Make Brioche”

  • carrie

    I would like to reach directly into my computer screen and pull out a hunk of that eggy, velvety goodness. I am going to do this as soon as humanly possible.

  • My Kitchen in the Rockies

    I have made Brioche and it is so delicious. I miss the little brioche rolls I used to buy in my favorite German bakery next to my apartment for breakfast. Thanks for the reminder to bake it soon again. My family loves it.

  • Jason Sandeman

    I love brioche, it is a weakness of mine, given my condition. I used to love making at school as well. We even did a fish pate with a brioche crust where we used a pair of scissors to open up “spikes” in the fish’s coat. That was cool!

      • Randy

        How do you know that…? If I was hungry enough, and judging by Donna’s lovely picture, I just might!

      • claudia @ ceF

        well, there is that… but if i ate a sixth (and i so would) it’d be HALF A STICK !!!

        and so i hear you saying…”you don’t eat brioche everyday!”, which is true because on the off days there’s bacon!

      • AJL

        I’m still laughing from your response….. tears are beginning to roll…. sooo funny. Maybe writer was guy from “Man vs Food” Thanks so much for the Brioche Recipe…..

  • Chappy

    Any recipe guidance if one does not have a standing mixer? Unfortunately I was the one from an earlier post with a kitchen that has too little counter space to allow for one. I tried brioche by hand once and it didn’t turn out well, but I’m wondering if there is a trick. Could a food processor work?

    • ruhlman

      It’s a pretty slack dough. you could probably do by hand, i think processor would make it tough, but you could try if you have a dough “blade”

      • Chappy

        I’ll have to give it a try. I did a gateau a la creme once. (I could be wrong, but it basically seems like it was flatten brioche). I used a combination of my hands and the dough hooks on my hand mixer. The dough never really got ‘web-like’ as it did on the video of the recipe I viewed.

        It also seemed like I ended up with about 1/4 stick of butter on my hands, but, again, my technique was probable terrible. That said, the finished product was fairly good, so maybe the dough is more forgiving than I am giving it credit for.

    • Adam Jaskiewicz

      Maybe cut the butter up smaller and make sure it’s well-softened?

      I have almost no counter space so my stand mixer doesn’t live on the counter. Getting it out burns off some of the butter!

    • jdw

      Peter Reinhart says to simply beat your dough “vigorously with a wooden or metal spoon for about ten minutes, to make a smooth, wet dough,” this after simply dumping your ingredients into a bowl.

  • Susan

    Brioche is perfect this time of year. It’s such a treat to use it for french toast, bread puddings and browned betty’s. Can’t wait to give your recipe a try. I love to make bread.

  • Christine Valada

    I took a baking seminar with Vanessa diStefano at Sur la Table in October where we made brioche in the food processor. I don’t have the recipe near by, but it is very easy to make in the food processor.

  • cookiepie

    Gorgeous!! And I love that your daughter makes it :) Mine is little (19 months), but they make bread every week in day care. I’m going to try this one out with her! Thanks so much for the lovely recipe and inspiration.

  • Darlene

    There’s a French bakery near us that sells brioche for $12 a loaf. Besides coming away annoyed, I was determined to make it myself, which I did (with marzipan filling!). Now I get why they charge so much. We ate it fresh the first day, made French toast the second and threw the rest in the freezer. Couple weeks later, I pulled it out an made bread pudding. Not one crumb of it went to waste. Well worth the time and effort.

  • Andy

    Ruhlman –

    Can you freeze the dough or freeze the bread and reheat?

    I wanted to use as the base for some appetizers and wondered if I might prepare ahead, so as to spare myself some work on the day of the event.

    Thanks!

    • Curt Hancock

      Brioche freezes very well wrapped tightly in plastic, after it has cooled from the oven. Just pull it out of the freezer and let it sit at room temp for an hour or so to thaw. If you plan on cutting it for french toast, croutons, etc., it’s easiest to do so when it’s still slightly frozen.

  • Eric the Read

    How would you modify this recipe for high altitude (~5600 feet)? I’ve modified cake recipes before, but they had volume measurements, not weight. I realize baking by weight is superior, but it is a bit harder to find information on how to work at altitude.

      • Kimber

        yes, a few times, outcomes vary, depending on level of high, ratios can be hindered askew …best to cook at a normal state of elevation with a heightened sense of awareness.

  • jbl

    I hate to be the sourpuss here but quality Brioche is near impossible to make at home. I only came close to making stellar Brioche ONCE and almost burned out my 6 Quart 575 watt Kitchen Aid Professional mixer doing it. After having followed various recipes (Thomas Keller’s, etc..) I found ONE that came close to very good but after smelling the electronics and probably voiding my warranty, I agree with Joel Robuchon: “The classic Brioche preparations (especially the kind with a billowy, mushrooming head), are time-consuming, complicated and best realized with professional ovens.”
    For the record, this is the recipe I used (slow loading but worth it): http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=111

    • J. Harvey

      I read over the recipe you linked to. There’s not much reason you shouldn’t be able to mix that dough in a home kitchen. There are a few techniques you might try to get that to work.

      First, I’d add the eggs and water and let the dough form on 1st speed. Hydrating with eggs takes a long time, and it’s best not to rush the process. I’d also eliminate the water, and sub in an egg or two for the missing 65g. Brioche is about excess.

      After the dough has come together, if it’s feels too stiff – if it feels like your mixer will break if you push it to 2nd speed – ADD SOME BUTTER. Actually, if it sounds like it’ll break on 1st, toss some butter in. You can safely add butter up to 20% the weight of the flour. That is, for 680g of flour, you can add up to 130g butter. The butter will soften the dough. For a brioche, you still want a dough on the stiffer side.

      That should get you to the point of putting the mixer on 2nd to develop the dough further. Personally, as a baker, I’d not go over 2nd speed with a dough. You’ll start to abuse and stress the gluten too much.

      Then, still on 2nd speed, add your remaining butter. Let it go till it comes back together and cleans the bowl.

      Hope that helps!
      Josh

  • Comal Caliente

    this sounds amazingly simple. I really need to get a mixer soon. Would a little hand mixing do the trick or would I be warming up the dough too soon ahead of time? I’ve never really baked bread on my own before so this is somewhat of a new venture. Thank you for the recipe, I hope to try this soon!

  • Derek

    When applying a “three-fingered” pinch of something, do you count the thumb as one of the fingers?

  • Curt Hancock

    The brioche croutons at ad hoc were so very tempting when working the line. I’m going to have to make a loaf so I can experience them again!

      • Curt Hancock

        Usually iceberg or tfl baby greens salads, but also for leek bread pudding. They would occasionally also serve as the base of a canape for px guests.

  • Andy

    When Marie Antoinette made her odious and terminal aristocratic comment to the hungry masses (let them eat cake), she was referring to this luxurious bread.

  • bunkycooks

    I agree, Brioche is too good and sweet to be called just a bread. I also enjoy using it in desserts (like bread pudding). Thank you for what seems to be a simple, yet foolproof recipe!

  • McDowell Mark

    We frequently use brioche at the restaurant where I work as part of the amuse bouche. Cut a frozen loaf into 1/8″-1/4″ slices. Use a 1″-1 1/2″ ring mold to cut disks. Spray lightly with oil or butter. Toast golden in the oven. Mount anything on it. It makes a great snack for your guests.

  • Mike

    In step one, when allowing it to ferment for an hour, do you cover it with plastic wrap? Also, how full should you fill the baking pan, 2/3?

    • ruhlman

      no need to cover, and I’d fill 3/4s full, but this amount fills a regular loaf pan and a terrine mold well.

  • E. Nassar

    Ah Brioche! One of the heavenly foods for sure. Great brioche is certainly possible to make at home, but with a stand mixer. Keller’s recipe is my favorite. I made the Ad Hoc recipe a couple of weeks ago and it needs like 20 minutes of mixing in the KitchenAid which mine handled with no problem and no burning. The smell of it baking alone is worth the trouble. We ate half of the bread fresh and I used the rest for Keller’s insanely good leek bread pudding to go with roasted pheasant. Honestly that pudding is way more than a side dish…it’s an indulgent delicious meal on it’s own.

  • Elise

    I gotta make this tonight! OK, start it tonight. I’ve been wanting to try the recipe from Peter Reinhart’s bread baking apprentice but it seems like so much trouble. This recipe is so much less fussy. Brioche is my most favorite bread item in the world. Yummy!

  • Teri

    Brioche sticky buns from Baking with Julia is a Christmas morning tradition in my house.

  • Elisa

    My grandmother used to bake pound cake in pans like those pate molds. I never knew what they were or what to look for in the store to get my own until now!

    This recipe looks amazing. Believe it or not, I’ve never had brioche. I am definitely going to attempt it this weekend.

  • JeffD

    Not to be a wet towel on the brioche party, but I’ve always been turned off by how “dry” brioche is–why do I need to put a bunch of butter on something with so much butter in it already? I’ve made recipes from Keller, Reinhart, Sherry Yard, etc. and they just suck the moisture out of my mouth unless I’ve slathered them with something. I guess I’m just too much of a gluten junkie to enjoy the tender yet arid crumb of brioche.

  • Karin

    Thank you for giving me permission not to have to look for brioche molds! I’ve avoided making this because I didn’t want to make the investment. Standard issue bakeware it will be.

    • J. Harvey

      Search for ‘brioche nanterre.’ It’s a traditional brioche loaf that looks special, especially if you sprinkle it with coarse sugar before baking, but it’s easy to shape and baked in a standard loaf pan.

  • Matt

    Nothing beats homemade baked goods, or homemade anything for that matter. Though breads, buns and biscuits always seem (to me) to come out so amazing when a little TLC is applied. Will be sure to try out this recipe!

  • Myk

    What should the consistency of the dough be after you incorporate the butter. When I tried it was really wet and really sticky. Just want to make sure I am on the right path

    • des

      Mine was ridiculously sticky for kneading by hand, but it was possible as long I kept my hands floured. It turned out on the dry side, but I suspect it was a oven-thing, not a recipe-thing. I’ll try again after christmas if my (un)subtle hints about a mixer get through.

    • ruhlman

      it’s a wet sticky dough, definitely need a mold. doesn’t need to be heavily mixed just enough to incorporate butter/

  • Jake

    First time eating or making brioche. Turned out awesome. My wife’s pregnancy is making her feel differently but that just means more for me

  • krystl

    This came out almost perfectly when I made it. I am not an experienced bread maker, and I had a few questions as I went through the recipe. How long is it supposed to take to double in size in the first rise? What is the texture supposed to be like when you knead it? I looked at some other recipes and estimated that it should take about two hours for the first rise. After two hours, it didn’t look doubled, so I set it in a warmer spot in the kitchen and gave it another half hour. Still didn’t look doubled, and I was worried that it wouldn’t work at all, but I went ahead. It was wet and sticky and could be pulled like taffy, but not really kneaded. I slapped it around on a floured board for a little while anyhow. It stuck to everything. I did see some bubbles in the dough, so I had hope that the yeast was working after all. I formed it into a standard loaf pan, and it half-filled the pan. I was thrilled the next morning to find that it had finally really risen, to fill the pan, after the overnight in the fridge. Baked at 350 for 45 minutes. My crust was golden, but not as dark as the picture on this page. My test skewer came out clean. A piece I cut off the end was perfect, with a gorgeous moist crumb and wonderful flavor. Unfortunately, it was underdone in the middle. Next time I will try to match the crust color in the picture. I had enough perfect bread to use in Karen DeMasco’s Pain Perdu recipe (with rum caramel bananas on top), and it was one of the best things I’ve ever made. Definitely planning a reprise for Christmas morning!

  • ruhlman

    thanks for the awesome report, krystal. Best way to tell when it’s done I suppose is to take internal temp, needs to be 180 or higher, up to 200 F.

  • April

    I’ve never been so excited or inspired to make bread than I was after reading this post. I didn’t even get half-way through before I decided I was going home to make this Brioche recipe. I am so impressed that your daughter makes Brioche; I bet she’s a wonderful assistant in the kitchen. I prepared the dough for this recipe last night. I’ll bake it tonight. I’m glad I read through the comments as I too questioned the consistency of the dough after incorporating the butter. I did add about a 1/4 extra flour after adding the butter (I also didn’t have a scale so I put in a scant 4 cups of flour.) I sure hope I didn’t ruin my dough! The last time I made Brioche it was a disaster and the bread was too dry. I haven’t attempted it since. To be fair, it was the first time I ever made bread. This morning the dough rose to nearly fill my pan, is that OK? I can’t wait to report on how it turns out. Thanks again!

  • brian

    I just made this and it was super easy and came out delicious and beautiful just as described. Sir, you are a wizard!

  • Sarah

    Just wanted to report on my experience with this recipe. I have never baked bread before and was very excited about making this. I found it to be a very forgiving recipe. At this time of year my kitchen is pretty cool temperature wise and I was worried because the dough didn’t seem to rise much, but that doesn’t seem to adversely affect the outcome. The first time I made it, I put all of the dough into my pyrex loaf pan and it spilled over the top quite a bit and the dough wasn’t fully cooked on the inside though the top was well-browned. We at the parts that were done and they were delicious. I just made it again but this time I took my bench scraper and cut off about an inch from the bottom and put the rest in the loaf pan. Baked it for about an hour and it was perfection! I folded over the inch I had cut off and baked that later on in the day (just threw it in a pyrex pie pan because that was handy). It turned into a delicious little round loaf. This is definitely a keeper. Thanks!

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