Making brioche with this recipe from Kaffeehaus brings back memories of working at a little artisanal bakery in Portland, Maine. I had never tried brioche before and seeing it made was quite an experience. Pounding out several 1-pound blocks of butter for a single batch, and mixing the dough on high speed for eight to ten minutes, I was amazed that it could all be incorporated into the dough and still come out as light, rich, and buttery as it did. We’d “accidentally” drop a loaf so we could have some for ourselves, and things got really interesting when we’d be making brownies that day and have some brioche to dip into the batter. Pure decadence! I seem to recall putting on a little bit of weight starting at about that time; I wonder if the two were related?
This recipe is basically what I remembered from the bakery but scaled down for the home kitchen and given a few embellishments, such as golden raisins and a bit of rum for flavor. Otherwise, the results were reminiscent of those halcyon baking days. You should try some too and consider a loaf of brioche from a good bakery the next time you’re in one. You won’t be disappointed!
Briochestriezel (Brioche Braid)
For the sponge:
- 1 oz fresh compressed yeast or 3 3/4 tbs active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup milk, heated to 105-115 F if using dry yeast
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup bread flour
For the dough:
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tbs golden rum
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour, as needed
- 7 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- To make the sponge: Combine yeast and milk in a small bowl and add the sugar. Let stand for 3 minutes. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size.
- To make the dough: Mix the sponge, milk, sugar, egg yolk, rum, lemon juice, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment. On low speed, mix in approximately 3 1/2 cups flour to make a sticky dough. One tbs at a time, add the butter, allowing each addition to be incorporated into the dough somewhat. The dough will look shaggy at this point.
- Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Bring the dough together in a ball and knead on medium-high speed, gradually adding another 1/4 cup flour, until dough is smooth and glossy, about 6 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead to check the texture. If the dough doesn’t stick to the work surface, enough flour has been incorporated. Place into a buttered bowl, turn to coat, and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours until doubled in volume.
- Transfer dough to an unfloured work surface and knead briefly. Cut the dough into three equal pieces by weight. Roll out each piece into a 17″ long rope.
- Line up all three ropes and pinch together at the far end. Braid the pieces by loosely dropping them over one another without stretching. Pinch the close end together and place loaf onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.
- Place pan into a large plastic bag and close. Let stand for 45-60 minutes, until doubled in volume.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Remove the baking sheet from the bag and lightly brush braid with egg wash.
- Bake the braid until golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Tent with foil for the last ten minutes if you feel the top is getting too overdone. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
- Slather with butter, jam of any sort, peanut butter, Nutella, what have you and enjoy the decadence!