I love this Brioche so much that I ate an entire loaf of it the other night. Can you blame me? It’s a buttery, eggy, rich and delicious bread that’s perfectly suited for savory sandwiches, fabulous French toast, and all kinds of classy canapes. It’s easy to make, too. All you need is a bowl, a wooden spoon, and a couple of loaf pans.
There are hundreds of different ways to make brioche bread. Several years ago, I made Julia Child’s excellent food-processor version. But today’s subject is loosely based on a recipe by the late, great James Beard. I say “loosely based,” because the recipe as published in Beard on Bread (Knopf; 1973) is extremely vague.
I used Beard’s list of ingredients in the following step-by-step. But I re-wrote the method in a more-detailed manner so that everyone can have fun on the brioche train. (You’ll find a printable version of the recipe, complete with both U.S. and metric measurements, at the end of this post.)
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Let’s make some French brioche!
Next, in a separate small bowl (or in a 1-cup measure), stir together 1/2 cup warm water, 3 1/8 teaspoons (that’s 1 1/2 envelopes) active dry yeast, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Let the yeast mixture sit until it foams or “proofs” — about 5 minutes.
Dump the hopeless-looking mass onto a lightly-floured counter top (or use a marble slab or pastry cloth), and let it rest there for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, wash out and thoroughly dry the bowl. Then grease the bowl with butter or non-stick spray.
TIP! If you live in a drafty old house, as I do, place the bowl of dough on a common heating pad, set to the lowest setting. Heating pads are available at every 2-bit drugstore for around $20. Select a variety that doesn’t automatically turn itself off after 30 minutes of use.
Form the dough into loaves, and place them into 8×4-inch loaf pans. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume — they should climb only slightly above the rim of the pans — 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Here’s a loaf-forming tutorial for first-time bread-bakers.
Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bake until the loaves turn bronze and beautiful, and they sound hollow when rapped with the knuckles — 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack, and then unmold the loaves for further cooling on the rack.
Let the bread cool completely before slicing.
This brioche is dense-moist-yeasty-eggy-buttery-beautiful. Don’t pretend you don’t want to eat an entire loaf, just as I did the other night. I cut the loaf into 4 long, horizontal slices, and enjoyed one slice with butter, another with butter and honey, another with just honey, and the fourth and final piece with butter and apricot preserves.
It’s a good thing that brioche is low in fat and calories.
(((In my dreams.)))
And here, as promised, is a printable version of the above: