Brioche is a rich, buttery bread. It is sometimes served for weekend breakfasts, as a snack or with foie gras. Here’s my classic recipe.
One of my favorite starters in France, especially in Southwest France where it is one of the many local delicacies, is buttery foie gras served with warm, toasted brioche and confit d’oignons. The last time I enjoyed this treat was at La Terrasse in Duras, a restaurant we keep coming back to because of its excellent menu and friendly service. It’s the first place we book when we arrive in town and the last place we visit on the evening before our return. Not to mention the many visits in between. I love the restaurant so much that I even reviewed it for the October issue of France Magazine (stay tuned).
But back to brioche. Children love it with Nutella as an afternoon snack (called le goûter), and it is also a popular weekend pastry (much like croissants and pain au chocolat (or chocolatine, if you live in Southwest France).
Although this recipe does involve patience and some effort – as most breads do – the results will certainly be worth it. Once you taste the velvety bread and smell its sweet aroma wafting through the house as it bakes, you will understand what I mean. This is pure brioche perfection.
Brioche is best eaten on the day you make it, though leftovers make excellent French toast. Brioche bread is gorgeous with a hamburger topped with caramelized onions, bacon and truffle mayo — oh my!
Classic French Brioche
Makes 1 loaf
- 1 packet dry active yeast
- 3 tbsps lukewarm milk
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 325g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 50g sugar
- 165g soft butter
- 1 egg, whisked for brushing
In a medium bowl, mix the yeast with the lukewarm milk. Crack in the eggs and whisk them in. Stir in the vanilla extract. Sift flour and salt into the bowl of a standing mixer and stir in the sugar. Add the wet ingredients and mix for 2 minutes (using the paddle attachment) on low speed. Turn off the machine, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again on medium speed for an additional 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, stop the machine, scrape the sides of the bowl again and start adding the butter in bit by bit while the machine runs again. Continue to mix on medium speed for a final 5 minutes. The dough will be glossy and very elastic. Scrape the dough from the paddle attachment and the sides of the bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and a tea towel and leave the dough to rise in a warm spot for 1 hour. After that, give the dough a good stir using a spatula and scrape it into a large piece of cling film. Wrap the dough and leave to chill for at least 12 hours or overnight. Take the dough out of the fridge and give it a quick knead on a floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place the dough balls seam side down in a 28cm rectangular cake pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with cling film and a tea cloth and allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 hour. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the top of the brioche with the whisked egg and bake for 35-40 minutes on the lowest part of the oven. It is a good idea to check after about 20 minutes or so to see if the bread is not getting too dark. Should that be the case, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. Once baked, immediately remove from the baking pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. This will prevent the crust from getting soggy.