Oh man, I had a GREAT bread day today. I finally decided to tackle Brioche. It turned out heavenly!! The first rise looked rather iffy at the 1.5 hour mark, but it ended up poofing up very nicely in the last hour. I also didn't let it sit in the fridge overnight, but it was in there for nearly six hours and that seemed to work just fine. While it was still warm we had some with butter and homemade blackberry jam and it was decadent enough to taste like dessert. Here's the recipe I used:
1/3 cup whole warm milk
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
2 cups flour
Note: Before starting this step, take 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter and leave it out so it can come to room temperature.
Warm the milk to roughly 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit and it transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. I find that active dry yeast works best around 95-100 degrees, so I would heat the milk to about 105 degrees, because it will cool once poured into the bowl. Add the yeast, egg, and 1 cup of flour to the bowl and mix with a spatula until combined. Add the other cup of flour, covering the mixture completely. Allow to sit uncovered for 30-45 minutes, after which there will be cracks all over the flour on top. Place bowl in stand mixer, fit with dough hook, and proceed to completing the dough.
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks butter (see note above)
Add sugar, eggs, salt, and 1 cup of flour to the sponge, then mix on medium-low speed until combined. Bring the speed up to medium, then add the last 1/2 cup of flour. At this point, set a timer for 15 minutes and knead the dough on medium speed the entire time. If your mixer becomes too hot, stop to let it cool down. As the mixing continues, the dough should become more elastic and start slapping the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t after 5-7 minutes, the dough is too wet. Add more flour by the tablespoon to bring the dough together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed. While you wait, take the butter and mash it so it becomes more pliable. The butter should not be oily, but smooth and cool. I like to put the butter on a plate and use an offset spatula to mash it.
After the 15 minutes are up, turn the mixer to medium-low and add butter two tablespoons at a time. The dough will become, for lack of a better term, a wet mess. Do not panic and keep mixing. After all of the butter has been added, turn the mixer to medium-high and mix until the dough starts to come together. Bring it down to medium and keep mixing until the slapping sound is heard again, with the dough back to its original elasticity. Add up to 1 teaspoon of flour if the butter is incorporated and the dough is still too wet.
Butter a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until double in size, roughly 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Once the dough has doubled in size, deflate it by gently lifting every edge gently and letting it fall. Cover the bowl again, place in the refrigerator and let rise overnight.
After the second rise is complete (the next morning), deflate it again, then turn to a lightly floured board. Give it a couple of kneading turns to smooth out the dough and round it into a disk. Cut the disk in half, then each piece in half three more times to produce sixteen equal pieces.
Butter two loaf pans measuring approximately 10 x 5 x 3 inches and place eight rounds of dough in each one. The dough should be evenly spaced and will not necessarily touch each other. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator (see alternative to placing in the refrigerator). When close to baking time, take out of the refrigerator, allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour, then bake.
Alternative: If not placing in the refrigerator, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for two hours, then bake.
1 large egg beaten with one tablespoon cold water
Prepared loaf pans with dough
Preheat oven 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the tops of the loaves (the rounds of dough should be touching, but it is ok if there are still small gaps) with the egg wash and be then place in the oven. Set a timer for 25 minutes. After 12 minutes, open the oven and give the tops another coat of egg wash. Bake for the remainder of time. Open the oven, pull a loaf out and being very careful, tap the top of the loaf with your hand. If it sounds hollow (like tapping an empty box), the loaf is done. I found these loaves do best when slightly under-baked, which leaves them perfectly moist.
If not serving immediately, cool the loaves completely and wrap in plastic wrap.