The French brioche is a classic yeast bread that's rich with butter and eggs, perhaps a cake-like bread. Today we use the dough to make a brioche loaf, also known as brioche pain de mie in French, using a Pullman loaf pan. The recipe is simple and easy with a long chilling and resting time in between steps.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the hook attachment, combine – warm milk, yeast, sugar, and eggs.Tip - while most doughs can be kneaded by hand, a brioche is rich in butter so, it is best to use a stand mxier for kneading.
Combine salt with the flour, then add it to the mixer as well. Knead on medium speed for about a minute scraping the sides of the bowl.Tip - Always make sure the salt is well incorporated in the flour before you add it to the yeast.
Once all the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for two minutes until smooth. The dough will be soft and sticky – that's ok.
Next, add the soft room temperature butter one cube at a time. Once all the butter is in, knead again for 2 to 4 minutes until smooth and elastic, and soft.Tip - this is a very soft and loose dough, so, resist the temptation to add more flour.
1st & 2nd rise
Remove the dough from the mixer bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a smooth ball.
Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or damp kitchen cloth. Leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in volume.
Then, punch the dough down. Cover again and let rise in the fridge for 6 hours up to 12 hours.
Shape and proof
At this point, the dough will be very chilled and firm (because it’s a butter-rich dough).
Invert on to a lightly floured surface. Knead for just 30 seconds to make it smooth and pliable again.
First, make a ball then roll it into a nice tight sausage shape the length of the Pullman pan.
Let rise in a warm place. This can take about 90 minutes up to 2 hours (because we started with chilled dough).
Once you see your dough is almost halfway up the sides – spray the cover of the Pullman pan lid and place it on.Tip - you want to place the lid on before it rises to the top so you don't ruin the rise.
Preheat the oven to 170 C / 350 F for at least 10 minutes.
Place the loaf pan on the center rack in the hot oven. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes
The bread is done when you tap the bottom of your loaf and you will hear a hollow sound.
Partially open the lid and let cool for 10 minutes – before you remove and let cool completely.
Always let bread rest for at least an hour before you cut – I know it’s hard but it will keep the bread moist.
Tips for making the perfect Brioche sandwich bread every single time
Measure all ingredients ahead of time so you don't forget anything at the last minute.
For accuracy, use a weight measure for the ingredients because every cup of flour can weigh differently depending on how you fill it.
The milk must be warm (not hot) about 110F. If the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast, similarly, if the milk is too cold it will not activate the yeast.
Though instant dry yeast has a long shelf life, it can get ruined. Always check the expiry date on the yeast. If unsure, combine the yeast with water/milk, sugar/honey, and oil/butter from the recipe and let stand 5 minutes. If it gets foamy the yeast is good to go if not, it's best to buy fresh yeast or check the temperature of the milk.
Keep salt away from yeast as it can kill the yeast. I like to combine it with the flour then add it to the yeast mixture.
A soft loose well-hydrated dough is not necessarily a bad thing, it often will give you a soft puffy bread, so don't be tempted to add more flour than mentioned in the recipe.
Kneading is key to making good bread. While kneading by hand can be therapeutic, using a stand mixer is easier and quicker.
Leave the dough at room temperature to rise until double in volume. While not recommended, when in haste, you can place it in a warm (not hot) oven this will expedite the rise.
Bread does not have to be time-consuming. You can leave the dough in the fridge to rise for a few hours (even overnight) while you go about your chores. A slow rise will give more flavor to the bread.
Always preheat the oven for at least 10 minutes before you place bread in or the low temperature will spread the dough too much.