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How to make French Brioche at home

Brioche loaf part cut into slices with a knob of butter and butter knife

Brioche is a classic French pastry. Part cake, part bread, it’s a staple dish in France. Eaten for breakfast or as a snack, it’s buttery-eggy-sweetness make it a firm favourite. For those who love to cook or can’t be in France, here’s how to make French brioche at home.

No one knows when it was first made – perhaps as far back as the Romans. The first records of a recipe date to the 14th century and some claim it was first made in Normandy, others in Ile de France. It is made in several different forms, buns, loaves, plaited, square, round, shaped. Plain or with fruit or chocolate chips. Sweet or savoury. Large or small. It lasts longer than bread and is perfect for making Pain Perdu (French toast).

I keep chickens and they lay a lot of eggs. When I gave some to my Parisian neighbours they made me a brioche loaf which was the best I’ve ever had. This is their recipe…

Ingredients for one brioche loaf

220g plain (All purpose) flour (7.5 oz /1 ¾ cups)
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 15g/1/2 oz fresh yeast)
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten
60 ml whole milk, warmed (2oz – ¼ cup)
75g unsalted butter cubed, room temperature (2 ½ oz- 1.5 stick)
Few drops of vanilla extract
Lightly beaten egg – to give it a golden glaze

How to make brioche

Mix the yeast with the warm milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar and leave it for 10 minutes in a warm place. The yeast will become frothy.

Sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt and the rest of the sugar, add the yeast mix, beaten eggs and vanilla extract and mix on a low speed. As soon as the dough starts to clump together, swap the paddle attachment for a dough hook and mix for about two minutes until the dough is firm and elastic.

Add half the butter at little bit at a time while the mixer is set to a medium-low speed. Fold the dough over on itself so you get the butter thoroughly mixed in. Then add the remaining butter as before and increase the speed to medium and mix for three to four minutes. Scrape the dough hook and the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix again until the dough is smooth, soft and shiny, about three minutes. You’ll hear the dough slap against the sides of the bowl when it’s ready. Do the “windowpane test” – take a golf ball sized piece of dough, flatten it and gently stretch, if it doesn’t break but is thin enough to see through – you’re ready.

Let the dough rise

Put the dough into a clean bowl and cover it with oiled cling film and leave it to rise in draught-free place for 1 to 1.5 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Then take the dough, give it a punch with your first several times to expel the air (knock back). Then knead it lightly for a couple of minutes.

Shape the dough into a rectangle and put it in a buttered loaf tin. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free spot until doubled in size, usually about 35 minutes up to an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C, (400˚F/Gas Mark 6)

Brush the top of the brioche with the glazed egg wash and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top of the brioche is a rich, golden brown.

If you want to create the traditional “bubble shape”, when the dough has risen, make cuts with a sharp pair of scissor. Snip three times on each side and twice at each end. The cuts should be about 1 inch deep. This allows the brioche to rise around the cuts.

Turn the loaf out and it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom – it’s done! Put it back in the tin upside-down to crisp the base for 5 minutes

Leave to cool.

Delicious with jam!

More delicious French pastries and cakes to make at home

Madeleines – classic French cakes, this recipe for pistachio madeleines by Michel Star chef Daniel Galmiche is irresistible.
Chouquettes – a favourite French snack, ball00n-like bite-sized cystal-sugar encrusted deliciousness.
Croissants – so French and so moreish…
Pancakes – how to make perfect crepes, French pancakes – every time!

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