Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

Brioche for Patricia Wells

Posted December 11, 2011

Simply Truffles
Makes 2 rectangular loaves

1/3 cup milk
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1½ cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Butter, for buttering the bread pans
1 large egg, at room temperature, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water

1.  Prepare the sponge:  In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the milk, yeast, and sugar and stir to blend.  Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Then add the egg and 1 cup of the flour, and stir to blend.  The sponge will be sticky and fairly dry.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup flour to cover the sponge.  Set aside to rest, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes.  The sponge should erupt slightly, cracking the flour.

2.  Prepare the dough:  Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge.  With the dough hook attached, mix at low speed for 1 or 2 minutes, just until the ingredients come together.  Still mixing, sprinkle in the remaining ½ cup flour.  When the flour is incorporated, raise the mixer speed to medium and beat for 15 minutes, scraping down the hook and bowl as needed.

3.  To incorporate the butter into the dough, it should be the same consistency as the dough.  To prepare the butter, place it on a flat work surface and with a dough scraper, smear it bit by bit across the surface.  When it is ready, the butter will be smooth, soft, and still cool – not warm, oily, or greasy.  (DT:  I did not do this step.  I just cut the butter into tablespoons.)

4.  With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time.  When all of the butter has been added, raise the mixer speed to medium-high for 1 minute.  Then reduce the speed to medium and beat the dough for 5 minutes.  The dough will be soft and sticky.

5.  First rise:  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 to 2½ hours.

6.  Chilling and second rise:  Punch down the dough.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight, or for at least 4 hours, during which time it will continue to rise and may double in size again.

7.  After the second rise, the dough is ready to use.  If you are not going to use the dough immediately, deflate it, wrap it airtight, and store it in the freezer.  The dough can remain frozen for up to 1 month.  Thaw the dough, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight and use it directly from the refrigerator.

8.  To bake the brioche:  Butter 2 8×4-inch pans.  Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, each weighing about 2½ ounces.  Roll each piece of dough tightly into a ball and place 6 pieces side by side in each bread pan.  Cover the pans with a clean cloth and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1½ hours.

9.  Center a rack in the oven.  Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

10.  Lightly brush the dough with the egg wash.  Working quickly, use the tip of a pair of sharp scissors to snip several crosses along the top of the dough.  (This will help the brioche rise evenly as it bakes.)  Place the pans in the oven and bake until the loaves are deeply golden and an instant-read thermometer plunged into the center of the bread reads 200ºF, 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove the pans from the oven and place on a rack to cool.  Turn the loaves out once they have cooled.

(You can store the bread, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for a day or two.  To freeze, wrap it tightly and store for up to one month.  Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.)

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