Here is the recipe for the typically Parisian brioches, those that have a little ‘head.’ They are seemingly simple to make, but when you start, you’ll see that the head has a tendency to be a little lopsided. There’s an easy way to get it right. Here’s my recipe, which I’ve developed after trying many variations with the proportions. Surprisingly, if a brioche is too rich in butter, it becomes almost too dry. I wanted to achieve a soft brioche with a wonderful taste and the only solution was to reduce the proportion of butter slightly and increase the amount of sugar just a tad. The result is everything I was looking for in a brioche, one you can eat for breakfast or for a snack. It contains some milk, so might be likened to a pain au lait, a slightly sweet bread roll, but many recipes for brioche do contain powdered milk. Yet it’s still a brioche, because despite everything, it does contain a lot of butter!
My tip: People who’ve tasted by brioche were surprised by just how good it tastes. They told me that when they made brioche, it always tasted strongly of yeast. That’s not the case for mine, even if I use dried yeast. The secret is to respect the instructions for the rising periods. There are three of these here: the first, which is just after kneading; the second involves an overnight stay in the refrigerator; and the third takes place in the mold. It’s the rising in the refrigerator that best develops the aromas of the brioche. And don’t worry about the shape. Even if you don’t get it right the first time, it’ll still be delicious to eat. So keep trying!
Recipe for Parisian Brioche (one 4-inch / 10 cm base mold)
- 2 cups / 250 g all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon / 3 g salt
- ¼ cup / 50 g sugar
- Level ½ teaspoon dried yeast (or 5 g fresh yeast, equivalent to ¼ of a 0.7 oz. cake)
- ½ cup minus 1 tablespoon / 100 g eggs (2 large (US) or medium (UK) eggs
- ¼ cup / 60 ml milk
- 1 stick plus 2 teaspoons / 125 g unsalted butter, room temperature
For the egg wash
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
Place the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. If you’re using fresh yeast, dissolve it in a little warmed milk.
Add the eggs. In the photo, you’ll see I’ve used 3 eggs, but just disregard this and weigh the required quantity or use 2 large (UK: medium) eggs.
Begin kneading at medium speed with the dough hook. Of course you can knead by hand but it will take more time. Gradually pour in the milk, and continue at medium speed for 10 to 15 minutes, until the dough is soft and very smooth–no lumps, of course! It will still be quite sticky at this stage.
Add the butter. If you’ve forgotten to take it from the refrigerator ahead of time, don’t worry. Just dice it and add it. It will simply take a little longer than room temperature butter to be incorporated.
Continue kneading at medium speed until the dough is elastic and very soft. The butter must be fully incorporated and the dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl. The dough in the photo is very soft, as you can see.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 1 hour 30 minutes in a warm place. If you can set your oven to 105°F / 40°C, go ahead and use it. The dough must double in volume.
Now punch down to remove all the air. The dough is a little sticky, and that’s the way it should be. Remove it from the bowl, cover in plastic wrap, and chill overnight. Just before you put it into the refrigerator, you’ll see that it’s not very firm, and will still be sticky. No need to worry! You may need a flexible spatula to shape it so that you can cover it well with the plastic wrap.
Next day, unwrap the ball of dough and place it on a lightly floured work surface. By now, the butter in the dough has chilled, so it is easier to handle. With just a light dusting of flour, it won’t stick at all any more.
Punch it down several times to remove the air.
Weigh the dough. You should have about 1 ¼ lbs. / 580 g, because what with the utensils and the wrap, there’s always a little wastage. Weigh out 1 ball weighing 3 oz. / 90 g and roll it in a little flour, just enough to dust the surface. Roll the remaining dough into a large ball.
Spray the brioche pan with non-stick spray. If you prefer, you can grease it with butter. Place the large ball of dough at the bottom of the pan and press down in the center to make a cavity. This is what prevents the dough from rising lopsidedly. With the smaller ball topping it, the brioche will bake evenly. If you use a ball of dough that’s too large and don’t make the cavity, the brioche will rise to one side and look like … well, it won’t look like much, but it’ll be good all the same.
Set the smaller ball in the cavity and leave to rise for 1 hour at 105°F / 40°C, or for 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours at room temperature.
See how nicely it’s risen. Be careful not to let it rise too much, because then it might flop.
Lightly beat the egg with the milk and use a pastry brush to glaze the entire top.
Allow to dry for 10 minutes and then apply another layer of egg wash. Don’t put too much of the mixture on your brush at once because it will run down into the sides of the pan and cause burnt-looking stains.
Bake at 350°F / 175°C (convection or fan-assisted oven) for 25 minutes. The dough will rise even more and turn a lovely golden color. Here it is, light and airy! And for breakfast, toast slices and spread them with your favorite jam.