Basic Brioche Dough

On this cold, dreary Saturday I felt adventurous enough to make homemade brioche! Once you make the dough, you let it rest overnight (or up to 3 days) in the fridge. That way you can switch it up, do savory one morning and sweet the next. MMMM…What is better than buttery, yeasty (is that a word Alex Trebek) rising bread?

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Save this recipe for a day when you can stay cooped up in the house. You will get little breaks throughout the process, but you never want to leave your rising dough unattended for longer than you would a baby. I don’t have a baby so I don’t really know, but I am an excellent guesser. It’s a good way to get a few things done around the house… or just an excuse to take a nap. Take it however you want.

My mom clipped this recipe from an old Gourmet magazine and I mixed up the process a little bit because I am not a huge fan of making bread in my Kitchen-Aid mixer. Why? Well, it’s a guaranteed way to wear down on the plastic gears in your mixer, and I almost always over-knead the bread when I do it that way. So I kneaded my brioche by hand, but if you think I’m crazy you can do it in your beloved mixer.

For the starter:

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup warm milk or water (about 105°F)
  • ¼ ounce package (2½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • ½ cup A.P. flour

 For the dough:

  • 1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hot milk or water
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups A.P flour

Make starter:

1.  Heat milk and sugar in small saucepan until 105°F.

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2. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and whisk until the majority of the yeast is dissolved.

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3. Let stand 10 minutes, or until yeast is foamy. If the mixture doesn’t foam (I have had this happen before), discard it and start over. Mine got super foamy… it almost looked like a cappuccino. Starbucks are you jealous?

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4. Stir flour into yeast mixture, forming a soft dough, and with a knife cut a deep X across the top.

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5. Let starter rise, covered in plastic wrap, at room temperature for 1 hour. Perfect amount of time to have your butter and eggs warm up to room temperature.

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12 tablespoons… Put the extra amount back in the fridge. Cut butter into slices.

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After an hour…. my starter had expanded like CRAZY, and boy did it smell like the Doughboy’s house on Christmas morning.

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Make dough:

1. In a small bowl combine salt, sugar, and hot milk ( I used just hot water from the faucet b/c I wanted to save my energy for kneading). Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

2. Fit a standing mixer with whisk attachment.

3. In bowl of the mixer beat 2 eggs at medium-low speed until fluffy.

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4. Add sugar mixture and beat until well combined. With motor running, add in order, beating after each addition: ½ cup flour, remaining egg, ½ cup flour, about one fourth butter, and remaining ½ cup flour. Scrape down sides as you go, your mom was right.

5. Beat mixture 1 minute. It should look like this.

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From here, I changed things up. The recipe says as follows:

6. Remove bowl from mixture and fit mixer with dough-hook attachment. Spread starter onto dough and return bowl to mixer. Beat dough at medium-high speed about 6 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add remaining butter and beat about 1 minute, or until butter is incorporated.

This is what I did instead:

6a.  Lightly flour your clean work surface. Spread starter onto dough and start kneading. At first you will need to do this with a bench scraper b/c the dough is very sticky, but as you develop the gluten (sorry you plucky yuppies, you won’t like this) the dough will become more workable, and you will be able to knead with your hands.  Here is me doing it:

Take breaks as you do this especially in the beginning as it will autolyse the dough, so you don’t have to knead it as long. But no more than 5 minutes on the breaks, you don’t want a crust forming on your precious dough. During one of your breaks (I took 2) soak those dough covered dishes.

You know your dough is done, or what many cookbooks like to call “smooth and elastic,” when you tug on it and can develop an almost translucent window. I didn’t quite have it above, so I kept on going until it was just right, and then I added the butter. Here’s a video to explain. CHECK IT!

As you fold in your butter, use your bench scraper to make sure you get all that delicious butter in there.

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But don’t use your dirty bench scraper to do this. Look how gross mine got! Run it under some water until all that dried on dough comes off.

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Now back to the original recipe.

7. Lightly butter a large bowl and scrape dough into bowl. I used the residual butter on the wrapper… I am sure you will have some too. And I’m sure you are as smug as me and think it’s appropriate to use the word residual . Kidding!

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8. Lightly dust dough with flour to prevent a crust from forming. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise until more than doubled in bulk, about 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.

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Remember I mentioned how cold it is today? Well I used this old trick my mom taught me. Put a rimmed pan in the bottom of the oven, and the bowl of dough on the top rack. Pour hot boiling water over the pan and quickly shut the oven door. Repeat as necessary to keep it hot, moist, and steamy. If you live in a nice climate skip this step. This is only for my fellow polar bears freezing in the tundra.

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During this 2 hour break, clean up your messy but happy kitchen, wrap your sister’s birthday present, or just be lazy. You deserve it!

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When I thought my dough had risen enough, it looked like this:

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And it smelled even better. I could eat this picture.

9. Punch down dough and lightly dust with flour.

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10. Chill dough in the fridge, covered, punching down after 1 hour, at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. (This is where I am at now in case you were wondering). Dough should be punched down each day it is kept. Makes about 1¼ pounds.

What should I make tomorrow???

 

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