Jul 20, 2010

Quick Brioche

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All right, so I know I’ve told all y’all more than once about my totally irrational fear of yeast-raised doughs. I don’t know what it is–I suppose perhaps I lack a Bread Thumb or somesuch. Or maybe my standards are too high (insert witty comment from husband here). But for whatever reason, I’ve had way more misses than hits when it comes to making bread. And with all of the amazing artisanal breadmakers here in the Bay Area, there’s little reason to make some myself, other than that nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that I need to conquer my baker’s Achilles’ heel. Oddly, that voice sounds a lot like Justin Bieber. I still haven’t figured that one out.

Anyway, when it comes to breads, I tend to be drawn to recipes that are of the Bread for Dummies sort. The kind that have millions of positive reviews or have things like “Foolproof”, “No-Knead” or “Easy” in the title always catch my eye. And if the recipe is by a baker I love so much I have him at the table of my long, loud lunch daydream along with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Ina, Shirley Corriher and Christopher Kimball, then all the better. Enter Nick Malgieri’s Quick Brioche.

I am a sucker for brioche. My first real taste of it came from the legendary LaBrea Bakery in Los Angeles and it pretty much ruined me for life–I’ve never tasted one so light and delicate, and yet so buttery and rich. Toasted with blackberry jam, oh my Lord, you may never eat anything else again. I didn’t hope to reach such great heights with this particular recipe, but nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. The day it was made, you could find at least one person, full grown or tiny, with a hunk in his or her hand at all times–the whole loaf disappeared within a day.

For a dough that comes together in a flash in the food processor, the flavor and texture here is especially impressive. I’m talking big results for very, very little work, guys. It baked up all fluffy inside and deeply golden with a beautifully glossy crust. Afterwards, the only thing Justin Bieber was dogging me about in the back of my head was the fact that the nice little braid I had going when it went into the oven sort of stretched out and pulled apart unattractively down the center–other than just putting it in a loaf pan next time, any pointers as to how I can remedy this and get this whining, shaggy-haired teeny bopper off my back, friends?

Quick Brioche
Adapted from Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker

Note that the butter used here is cold, not softened as in other brioche recipes. Keeping the butter cool here will help it withstand any heat from mixing in the food processor. You can make one large braid, or divide the dough in half and make two loaves with it in two buttered 9×5 inch loaf pans, which may take a few more minutes to bake.

Makes 1 16-inch long braid, or 2 standard-sized loaves

1 /2 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

Egg wash:

1 additional large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

Heat the milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave until it is just lukewarm, about 110 degrees F. Pour the milk into a small bowl and whisk in the yeast. Use a spoon to stir in 1 cup of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until it is bubbly and slightly risen, about 20 minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade (or the dough blade, if you have one), combine the butter, sugar, salt, eggs and egg yolks. Pulse until the butter is finely chopped and equally distributed throughout the mixture, which will appear curdled and separated (but won’t worry–it will come back together when flour is added).

Scrape the yeast mixture into the food processor and pulse 6 times to mix. Add 1 cup of the remaining flour and pulse until the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the bowl. Add the rest of the flour and pulse again until well-mixed. Let the dough rest in the food processor for 10 minutes.

After the rest, start the processor and let it run continuously for 10 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. With the help of a bench scraper, knead the dough 5 or 6 times, or until it is slightly more elastic.

With the bench scraper or a knife, divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each each piece into a thick, even rope about 12 inches long. If the dough is too sticky to work with, refrigerate it for 20 minutes and start again.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the three ropes lengthwise on the sheet, with about 1/2 inch in between them. Starting in the middle of the loaf, braid the ropes together towards you, pinching the ends together gently and tucking them under the loaf. Rotate the pan and repeat, braiding the rest of the loaf.

Cover the braid with a towel or buttered plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours, depending on how warm the room is.

When you’re ready to bake, position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees.

Just before baking, brush the braid lightly all over with the egg wash, being careful not to let it puddle in the creases of the braid. Bake until the bread is well risen and beautifully golden and glossy, about 35 to 40 minutes. Slide the parchment onto a wire rack to let the bread cool before slicing.

  • If you like Semifreddi's you should check out the Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley! Their products inspired much of the Semifreddi's line

  • I know what you mean about easy yeast breads! I pulled out my old bread machine and have been depending on that for fresh baked breads This one looks simple enough for me to tackle! Thanks!

  • Shauna, I am so baking this. I share you fear of yeast. I've recently made my first loaf of bread and I'm hungry for more. Thanks!

  • That looks absolutely incredible. I've just started taking some cooking classes as I want to start cooking for my wife for a change. I'm definitely going to try and make this at the weekend for her. Thanks for sharing.

  • I am TERRIFIED of yeast. I bought the Bread Bible to try and conquer these fears but so far, it has only intimidated me more. This recipe, I think even I could handle.

  • gorgeous! I have a bread-making phobia. There has to be a word for that.
    But maybe I could handle this one?! You make it look too easy 🙂

  • Your brioche turned out lovely! I've always made my brioche in little tins so I may have to try shaping it into a braid next time.

  • I'm afraid of baking with yeast also….but if you promise that this one isn't scary then I'm gonna give it a go. It looks too yummy not to try.
    And btw,J-Biebz doesn't go away. You can't shake that kid. So give up trying and just embrace it.
    Gorgeous bread and thanks for sharing!

  • Oh, I love you guys. So glad to hear I'm not alone in my yeast-fearing ways!

  • This looks great!!! I love the step by step pictures! This is so easy!! Love it!
    Would you mind checking out my blog? 😀 http://ajscookingsecrets.blogspot.com/

  • Great job. I just picked up that book. It looks great.

  • hi shauna, i am going to try this bread…i have a GREAT fear of yeast &…
    that is why i am taking a class @ ICE…with nick malgieri…i cannot wait! i just got the modern baker & will study up (before the class in early august)….
    thanks for all your great recipes & photography!!

  • Wow, this recipe does look ultra-easy! I'm definitely giving this a try soon. My favorite way of having brioche is lightly toasted, with some butter and topped with brown sugar…you definitely have to try it!!!

  • I am totally with you on the fear of yeast ha.. that's why I normally leave the bread making to my "yeast-thumbed" boyfriend! But I have a brioche recipe sitting on my counter that I've been wanting to make.. thanks for inspiring me 🙂 If you can do it so can I!

  • I've just recently started making yeast breads…it's definitely an art and includes lots of trial and error! Your bread turned out beautifully though – well done! : )

  • To avoid the large area with no glaze, you need to let the bread over-rise. This limits the amount that it will rise and tear in the oven.

  • Luke–From what magical planet did you come, you baking genius? Thanks for the tip!

  • Oh gosh, it's gorgeous! I love brioche and haven't made it in ages! Your recipe looks excellent…copy, paste, print, and off I go. Can't wait! Thank you!

  • Is there any way at all to decrease the rising time? I only have an hour and forty minutes to prep and cook the whole thing…

  • Temp to cook??

    • 350 degrees F–listed in the second to last paragraph in the recipe. 🙂

  • […] used these two recipes as a base, then veganised using xanthum gum, Vegg (the main ingredient is stinky black salt), […]

  • […] Anyway, I’ve been able to curl up and read a bit including Finishing my simple life book as discussed in an earlier post. And on my return I’ve gone all ‘baking baby’ and tried a new recipe for quick brioche…I’m thrilled with it. I’ve always fancied making brioche but it took too long…no more. Here’s the recipe […]

  • I do not have a food processor, but do have access to a KitchenAid with both a paddle and a dough hook. Would I be able to use this with this recipe and if so what changes to the mixing would I have to do. I am a relative newbie but am trying to learn.
    Thanks for any help you can give me,

    • Glenn, I generally make the Nick Malgieri version in my stand mixer, so I imagine this recipe will work just fine.

  • I have just started making this recipe. One thing I have a problem with is the milk, yeast and flour mix at the beginning. It turns into a dough and did not bubble or rise much.

  • Thanks for the excellent recipe. I made it today and even though I don’t think I kneaded it long enough, it came out great! It has a great taste. I had the problem of the proofing dough not bubbling and the dough didn’t rise much, but I went ahead anyway. I love this recipe. I will probably use less sugar next time, but now I’m a bread baker!!

  • One tip my mother gave me regarding braiding bread dough is to leave a little slack in the braid – just enough that as the dough rises and fattens each “thread” it won’t be too tight and cause the tearing down the centre that you had.

  • I would love to make hamburger buns with this recipe. Do you have any idea whether that would work or how many pieces I should divide the dough into to make a medium sized bun? Thanks!

  • […] used these two recipes as a base, then veganised using xanthum gum, Vegg (the main ingredient is stinky black salt), […]

  • Is the milk 1 1/2 cups or just 1/2 cup? It looks like 1/2 cup, but it doesn’t look right in the bowl.

    • I bumped it to 1 1/2 cups and it came out great, 1/2 cup w the cup of flour turned it into a really tight dough for me

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