Thanks for signing up to receive your free lessons
Check your inbox - they’re on the way!
Oops! Something went wrong
Please try again later
Get started with free lessons
Unlock your passion, sign up today
How to make brioche
By BBC Maestro
This classic French treat has long been enticing eaters from all over the world. Praised for its soft and doughy texture, it’s a versatile bread that can satisfy those sitting on either side of the sweet or savoury debate.
But what is brioche? And what makes it so special? Take a look at this brioche recipe from baker Richard Bertinet to find out.
What is brioche?
Brioche is a soft, slightly sweet type of bread that’s made using an enriched dough (made primarily from eggs, butter and sugar). This makes it a much richer dough than bread, which uses large amounts of flour.
Its texture lies somewhere between bread, cake and pastry, so because of this, you can expect it to be eaten in a whole host of ways – lined with chocolate or as an upgrade to the humble burger bun.
You’ll find its roots in the streets of France in the early 15th century. Although, like with many popular dishes, there is some debate over its exact origins (and the master chef behind it). It’s thought that brioche was traditionally made to celebrate special occasions, which isn’t surprising given the amount of butter required to make it (and butter’s luxury status at the time).
Today, it’s much more commonplace. You can find it in the windows of Parisian bakeries or the bread and cake aisles of your local supermarket. It’s made in many forms too – brioche à Tête (baked in a fluted tin), brioche loaves and brioche buns. You will also find some people eating it as a substitute for bread in French toast, sandwiches and burgers.
So how do you make a delicious brioche loaf? “This recipe I’ve used for years, it’s pure eggs and butter,” says Richard Bertinet in his BBC Maestro course. Let’s dive in.
- 4 whole eggs
- 300g strong white bread flour
- 9g fresh yeast
- 30g caster sugar
- 6g fine sea salt
- 125g unsalted cold butter, slightly softened and diced into chunks.
For the egg glaze:
- 1 egg, beaten, with a pinch of salt.
How to make brioche
1. Place the eggs into the bowl of the mixer and the flour into a bowl of its own. If you don’t have a mixer you can mix by hand but be warned, brioche dough is a very sticky dough to work with.
2. Take the yeast, cover it in a little bit of flour and then rub it between the palms of your hands – as if you were washing your hands. You’ll notice the yeast crumbling into the flour.
3. Once the yeast is all broken down, pour the flour mixture into the bowl with the eggs.
4. Then add your sugar and salt to the mixture and start combining using your mixer on a slow speed or hand-whisk.
5. After four minutes or slightly longer if done by hand, the ingredients will be well mixed together and the eggs will be incorporated. Turn the speed up to medium and now start adding your butter. Be patient here, and let each piece absorb into the dough before adding the next.
6. Mix until all the butter is incorporated, and you hear a flapping sound as the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Use your scraper to release the dough around the sides of the bowl and turn it onto your work surface (don’t flour it first).
7. The dough will be very soft and velvety, and as it is full of butter you need to treat it with a very light touch. “The brioche dough is very special, it's so high in butter, if you don’t respect it, the butter will come out,” says Richard Bertinet. So, working lightly is important.
8. With your scraper just skim it over the work surface a little and already you will see the smooth ‘top’ forming. Very lightly fold the dough over itself a few times and tuck it in.
9. Dust the dough very finely with flour, then use your scraper to help you lift it into a clean bowl. Cover with a baking cloth and leave to rest for two hours – in a cooler place than usual, to avoid the dough warming up and the butter beginning to seep out – until the dough is bouncy and has nearly doubled in size.
10. Once it’s risen, it’s time to shape the brioche dough. Dust your hands with flour and turn it over so that the ‘top’ is underneath. Press down very lightly, then fold the upper edge into the centre and press down. Turn it 180 degrees and repeat.
Fold the upper edge into the centre one more time, then bring the upper edge all the way over to the lower edge and press to seal. Turn the dough over so that this ‘seam’ is now underneath.
11. With your scraper, divide it into six equal pieces of dough, then very gently cup your hand over each piece and roll it over your work surface to smooth into a ball. Make sure your loaf pan is well greased with butter, then arrange the six balls in your tin. Leave covered, somewhere cool for one hour.
12. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Then brush the top of the loaf with the egg glaze, in two thin layers, rather than one thick one.
13. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake the large loaves for around 20-25 minutes. Don’t rely on a timer, keep an eye on them all the time until they turn a beautiful caramel brown.
14. Remove from the tins and cool at room temperature on a wire rack.
How to serve brioche
You can enjoy the loaf sliced on its own or get creative. Some argue that there’s no better brioche pairing than a chocolate spread. Others prefer it toasted with jam or marmalade. For Richard Bertinet, it’s best served alongside a fresh cup of coffee: “now to sit in a café on a terrasse in Paris with a little brioche, café crème… c’est la vie!”
If you want to upgrade your breakfast game, try brioche French toast. Treat it as normal sliced bread and dip it in an egg wash, milk and cinnamon and then pan fry until golden brown. And if your savoury senses are kicking in, why not serve it with your favourite sandwich filling? Think mozzarella, tomato and pesto or ham and cheese.
If you want to learn other ways to bake your brioche or more about breadmaking, take a look at Richard Bertinet’s online baking course. He teaches his techniques for creating some of the most mouth-watering breads out there, from herby focaccia to fresh sourdough.
Learn more about baking
If you want to learn other ways to bake your brioche or more about breadmaking, take a look at Richard Bertinet’s course. He teaches his techniques for creating some of the most mouth-watering breads out there, from herby focaccia to fresh sourdough.