Brioche Loaf

This sweet and simple loaf gets its gorgeous bubbly top from a simple braid. With braided breads, it’s important that the ends are sealed and not tucked or folded under the loaf; otherwise it may rise and bake slightly misshapen.

Brioche Loaf
Makes 1 loaf
  • Essential Brioche Dough (recipe follows)
  • 1 large egg (50 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water
  1. Lightly spray an 8½x4½-inch loaf pan with baking spray with flour. Line pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan.
  2. Turn out Essential Brioche Dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 3 portions (about 217 grams each). Roll each portion into a rope about 14 inches long. Pinch ropes together at one end, and carefully braid together tightly. Pinch ends to seal. Place braid in prepared pan, compressing to fit as needed. (Try not to fold the dough too much under itself; this will result in an irregular bumpy top.) Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed and dough passes the finger dent test, 50 to 55 minutes. (See Note.)
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water. Lightly brush egg wash over surface of dough.
  5. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 40 to 45 minutes, covering with foil during final 15 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Note: To use the finger dent test, lightly flour the surface of the dough, and gently press your finger about 1/2 inch into the surface. If your dough has properly fermented, you should be able to watch the dough spring back slightly but still show an indentation. If the dent disappears, the dough is underproofed and needs more time.
Essential Brioche Dough
Makes 1 Brioche Loaf, 1 Brioche à Tête, 6 Brioche au Sucre
  • ⅓ cup (80 grams) warm whole milk (110°F/43°C to 115°F/46°C)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 ⅓ to 2 ⅔ cups (291 to 333 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams), lightly beaten and room temperature
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature
  1. In a small bowl, stir together warm milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon (4 grams) sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 1⅓ cups (166 grams) flour, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (32 grams) sugar. Add yeast mixture and eggs. Using the paddle attachment, beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. With mixer on low speed, gradually add 1 cup (125 grams) flour, beating until a shaggy dough forms; scrape sides of bowl.
  3. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at medium-low speed until dough is smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky, 4 to 6 minutes; add up to remaining ⅓ cup (42 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) at a time, beating until combined after each addition (6 to 7 minutes total). Beat at medium speed until a smooth, elastic dough forms, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 5 to 8 times, and shape into a smooth round.
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and lightly punch down dough. Flatten dough into an 8x6-inch rectangle, and transfer to prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.

Note: Unlike softened butter, room temperature butter is soft enough to easily incorporate into your dough and should provide no resistance when pressed with a finger. If you’d like to use an instant-read thermometer, room temperature typically sits around 70°F (21°C).

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