This easy brioche loaf recipe makes the fluffiest, most tender, and buttery crumbs ever! You can make a plain loaf or turn it into a braided brioche showpiece for weekend brunch. It's great for breakfast and even better when you make some Banana Foster French Toast with the leftovers.
During our summer study excursion at Paul Bocuse Institute in France a couple of summers ago, we were introduced to a huge variety of brioche in more than just the average plain Jane loaves. Although I do love my plain Jane loaves when I'm lazy, haha.
Those brioche were made into all sorts of viennoiseries, aka a French term that refers to pastries made of enriched doughs. Some were folded with nuts and chocolates, some were made into puff pastries, and others were braided into some posh brioche funs. Thinking about all those brioche goods, I couldn't help myself from wanting to make some. So here's to making classic brioche with some braided extravaganza!
Now, let's dive into some tips and FAQs to make a nice loaf of brioche!
Unlike breads that only require flour, yeast, salt, and water, bread made from enriched doughs have additions of eggs, milk, butter, sugar, or all of the above. Some of the most popular examples of bread made with enriched doughs are challah and brioche. These enriched breads taste richer and have extra tender crumbs that's slightly yellower in color from the addition of eggs and butter.
Challah vs. Brioche
Although both challah and brioche are made of enriched dough, they have their differences. One of the main differences is that challah is a dairy free bread, made to Kosher standards and popular in Jewish cuisine. It's enriched with eggs, oil, and sometimes sugar. On the other hand, brioche originated from France. And as French pastries are, brioche is also enriched with butter, eggs, and sometimes sugar and milk.
What can you eat with brioche?
You can eat brioche like any other bread. As a turkey sandwich, PB&J, tea snack, you name it. Our favorite ways to eat brioche is to smear a slice with a generous amount of hazelnut and chocolate spread, or use thick slices for french toast. You'd be surprised how good this brioche can make a Banana Foster French Toast!
What kind of yeast can I use?
I've always used active dry yeast, but instant yeast will work as well. If you're using active dry yeast, make sure to always activate and dissolve the yeast in some warm water, registering around 95 to 100F. With instant yeast, you can pop them straight into the dry mix and start kneading. No need to dissolve.
For those of you that can get your hands on fresh yeast, you can use that as well! Just make sure to convert the amount properly. Usually to convert active dry yeast to fresh yeast, you have to multiply the weight of active dry yeast by 3. For example, 7g dry yeast x 3 = 21g fresh yeast.
How do I know if my brioche dough is kneaded enough?
When your brioche dough is ready, the dough should be smooth, supple, and elastic. It should also pass the window pane test where you stretch a chunk of the dough so thin, you can see silhouettes though it without tearing. The total time of kneading in a mixer is roughly 10-15 minutes, but the time may differ for different mixers.
Can I make brioche by hand?
Yes! This recipe works perfect fine if you decide to knead the dough by hand. Although, a stand mixer would make your life much easier! If you are kneading by hand, you can follow the recipe as is. Get ready for some arm workout! Do keep in mind that your kneading time will be different than kneading with a stand mixer.
What are ways to shape my brioche?
There are as many ways to shape brioche as there are shades of color. Some of the most popular ways are as a plain loaf, round buns, braided, or "brioche à tête." My current obsession is the 6 strand braid. It's so pretty and surprisingly easy to do!
To shape a plain loaf:
First, roughly shape the dough into an oval and place it horizontal to you. Then, place your hands behind the dough and pull it towards you. While pulling, tuck the dough under itself to tighten and smooth the top of the dough. You may have to repeat this step a couple of times to get a smooth top and tight dough. Tuck the ends of the dough under itself and transfer it into a loaf pan. (I really like USA loaf pans. They're super durable, heavy duty, and almost acts like a nonstick.)
To make a 6 strand braided brioche:
- Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into ropes. Then roll the ends of each rope into a tip.
- Pinch one end of the tips together and fan the strands out.
- Cross strand 6 all the way over to the left and strand 1 all the way to the right. Strand 6 should be above strand 1.
- Bring strand 6 down the middle between strand 3 and 4. Then bring strand 5 all the way to the left (above 2).
- Bring strand 1 down the middle between strands 3 and 6.
- Repeat the pattern of bringing the 2nd strand from the opposite side, then bring the 1st strand from the opposite side down to the middle.
- Once the braid comes to an end, pinch the tips together.
- Roll the ends of the braid even out the braided loaf.
- Tuck both ends under the loaf itself and transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan.
Do I need to egg wash my brioche?
The primary use of egg wash is to provide browning and gloss. So, it's not necessary to egg wash your brioche if you don't care for the shine or the browning. In this recipe, we used egg whites only with a splash of water for our wash because we find egg yolk washes to be too eggy and browns our bread faster than we'd like.
Can I use less sugar in my brioche?
Yes, you are welcomed to reduce the sugar used for this brioche recipe, although, I would not completely do without sugar. I recommend reducing the amount of sugar used to no less than 2 teaspoon per recipe.
How long will the brioche last?
If properly stored (plastic wrapped and stored in an airtight container), homemade brioche will last 3-4 days at room temperature, about 7-10 days in the fridge, or up to 2 months in the freezer.
If you're looking for other breads to make, check these out:
- Easy Classic Rosemary Focaccia
- Easy Milk Bread Loaf
- Best Homemade Pita Bread
- The Best Cinnamon Rolls
Bake with love!
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Easy Brioche Loaf Recipe
- Stir together warm milk (95°F) and active dry yeast. Let it sit for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until all yeast granules have dissolved.
- In the stand mixer bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Add the egg and milk with dissolved yeast and mix with the dough hook on low until a shaggy dough forms.
- Add the softened butter to the dough and knead on medium low speed for about 5 minutes until the dough comes together.*You may have to help the mixer out by mixing the dough by hand until the butter is a little better incorporated.*
- Once the dough comes together, increase the kneading speed to medium high and knead for about 5-8 minutes, or until the dough is elastic, smooth, and supple.
- Smooth the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough proof in a warm area until doubled in size, about 45 minutes*.*The dough's proofing time will depend on how warm the area is. We usually keep our dough in our oven with only the lights on, and the dough usually doubles within an hour.*
- Once the dough has doubled, punch the dough down to release the air. Fold the dough into itself by folding the edges into the center, all the way around. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer to a clean work surface.
- To shape a plain loaf, first, roll the dough into an oval. With the oval's long side parallel to you, place your hands behind the dough and pull/ tuck it towards you. Repeat this step a few times until the top of the dough is smooth and tight.Tuck the ends of the dough under itself and transfer the dough into a loaf pan.*For the 6 strand braid, refer to the post.*
- Beat together the egg white with a splash of water (about ½ TBSP) until the egg white is loosened up. No need to make it foam.Brush the loaf with a layer of egg white wash. Cover the loaf and let it proof until the dough is about 90% proofed, so just under doubling.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.Once the dough is about 90% proofed, brush the loaf with another layer of egg white wash. Bake the loaf for about 25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the interior is cooked through, registering at least 180 or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The heat will carry over the cooking if the dough is just slightly under.
- Let the loaf cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes then remove the bread and let it finish cooling completely on a wire rack.Enjoy!