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.