Sweet, tender and so moreish. This easy brioche loaf is sure to be a weekend breakfast staple, fresh from the oven slathered in jam or kept aside for perfect French Toast!
With so much butter, eggs and milk , brioche is actually considered a Viennoiserie – a baked good made with yeast in a manner similar to bread, but that is richer and sweeter like a pastry. Viennoisieries are generally eaten at breakfast or as a snack – think croissants, pain aux raisin, turnovers etc. So basically all the good stuff 😉
The high egg and butter content in brioche is what gives it its tender crumb – that almost melt in your mouth quality that makes it SO good. Honestly, I tested this recipe three times and it was almost impossible not to devour immediately when it came out the oven. I think the true test of any bread is if its delicious on its own, without any butter or jam or spreads. Just the bread. And this brioche passes that test with flying colours!
So lets get to it.
How to make an easy brioche loaf:
Like with most recipes I share, they can seem a little daunting at first. But once they’re broken down into steps they’re SO achievable. I think bread especially puts a lot of people off, but with my tips below I really think you’ll succeed.
Firstly lets talk equipment;
I’ve written this recipe with a stand mixer in mind. You can make brioche by hand, and I’ve done it myself. But it takes ALOT of work and you won’t get as tender and light a crumb than if you’d used a stand mixer. Unfortunately an electric hand-whisk with dough hook attachment also won’t work here. The dough is so strong, the motor on a hand-whisk wouldn’t be able to cope. Sorry hand-whisk 🙁
If you bake a lot, a stand mixer is a really great investment and you can get some fairly cheap ones nowadays.
Aside from a stand mixer, you’ll also need two 2lb loaf tins. The brioche rises so much that you won’t be able to make it in one tin – I tried it, and it was overflow central!
Finally, not essential but a nice to have is a dough scraper. This brioche dough is quite sticky, so manoeuvring it is soo much easier with a dough scraper.
What ingredients go into brioche?
So for our brioche, we will need the following:
- Plain flour – you don’t need strong bread flour for this!
- Caster sugar – to give the dough the sweetness
- Salt – to help bring out all the flavours
- Easy Bake Instant Yeast – you can get this in small tubs or sachets in all supermarkets
- Milk – Either whole milk or semi-skimmed. Don’t use skimmed milk as it won’t have a high enough fat content
- Eggs – you’ll need four large eggs for the dough, and another to glaze for that gorgeous dark brown crust
- Butter – unsalted as always for baking – and at room temperature! Get it out a few hours before you bake at least.
How to make brioche dough:
So first of all you want to have all your ingredients weighed and ready. The flour, sugar, salt and yeast can all be added to the bowl of a stand mixer that’s fitted with a dough hook – making sure to keep the salt and yeast separate at this point. This is because with direct contact, salt can kill the yeast!
You’ll also want to have your milk in a jug – ideally not straight from the fridge. You want it to have warmed to room temperature a little. Then crack your eggs into a small bowl and give them a quick whisk with a fork so they’re beaten and combined. Finally, chop your butter into small cubes and set aside.
Now you can turn the mixer on – hooray! Briefly mix the dry ingredients for 30 seconds or so, then add in the milk and eggs. The mixer should then be turned up to a medium-high speed and you want to knead the dough for 10 minutes or so, until a strong dough forms. Make sure to push the flour that settles around the edge of the bowl, into the centre of the mixture with a silicone spatula – being careful not to be hit by the dough hook! Once your dough is ready, you can begin to add the butter.
Why should butter be added slowly to brioche dough?
Adding the butter into your brioche dough is a fairly lengthy process, and the butter should only be added approx. one tablespoon at a time. This is so the dough maintains the stretchy gluten we’ve built up, and the butter is absorbed slowly. This is also why butter is added last, as butter can inhibit the formation of gluten strands. Doing it this way, means that the gluten strands have already been formed and the butter won’t affect them.
All in all, the addition of butter should take you around 10 minutes with the mixer on a medium speed the whole time.
Once this is complete, I knead the dough for a further 3-5 minutes until the dough isn’t sticking to the sides of the bowl anymore. Your dough should also be superrr stretchy and elastic now. If you detach your dough hook and pull it up, the dough should stay connected and stretch – its super fun to do! At this point its ready for its first prove.
For the first prove place your dough into a large bowl (glass is best if possible, so you can see the rise) and leave for at least an hour until its doubled in size. Your dough is fully proved if it springs back slowly when you press it with a floured finger (needs to be floured, as this dough is sticky!). If if springs back quickly, it needs more time proving.
How to prove dough in a cold house:
Have a cold house? ME TOO. Here’s two tricks to getting your dough to rise even when your house feels like the artic:
- Place the dough in the oven WITHOUT turning it on, except for the oven light. The heat from the oven light will be enough to create a warm environment.
- Don’t have an oven light? Me either! Instead, place your dough in the oven, again WITHOUT turning it on. And on the bottom rack, place a tray or bowl of freshly boiled water – the resulting heat from this will create the perfect warm steamy atmosphere.
So now you’re ready for shaping. Pour your dough out onto a clean work surface, and fold it into itself a few times to knock the air out. Then divide it into 14 pieces – you’ll need 7 for each loaf tin. My dough always weighed 1045g, so each piece should be approx. 75g. But make sure to weigh your dough just in case it differs.
Weighing each dough piece might seem a little extreme – but you really want an even rise and bake and this won’t happen with uneven dough pieces.
The dough will be soft and pliable and sticky, but not sticky enough to coat your hands. With most bread doughs I find as long as you work confidently and with purpose, you won’t end up in a sticky mess. So now you have 14 pieces of dough, shape them into rough balls.
I like to do this by pulling the sides into each other, and then turning it over so the ‘seamless’ side is the top. Place the balls into your loaf tins (that should be buttered on all sides!) with 4 balls down the left-hand side and 3 balls in the gaps on the right – like the picture below.
Final steps for your easy brioche loaf
Once your dough balls are safely ensconced in your loaf tins, they should be left to prove for at least 45 minutes until puffed up. Then they just need an egg wash glaze, and they can be baked for 35minutes.
And voila! Perfect, buttery, moist and easy Brioche loaf. I LOVED this straight from the oven when it was still warm,. But its also perfect the next day toasted with lots of jam. Or even kept for a few days and turned into French toast. There’s so many options when it comes to Brioche, that I really doubt it’ll last long in your house.
Yes! Absolutely! Once the Brioche is fully cooked and cooled, wrap it tightly or place in an air-tight box and place in the freezer. You can then get the Brioche out of the freezer to defrost and enjoy as normal. You can also slice the Brioche before freezing, and then only take out a few slices when you want.
You could….butttt it will take you a very long time and alot of hard work! Its much easier in a stand mixer, and will result in a much better texture.
This is trickier than usual, as Brioche browns so quickly you can be tempted to think its going to burn! But you WANT that deep brown colour. It should also be hollow when you tap the loaf, and if you have a food thermometer it will read 87C when done.
I really hope you love this delicious and easy Brioche loaf as much as I do! If you do give it a go I’d love to hear your thoughts below!
Easy Brioche Loaf
- 500 g plain flour
- 45 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 7 g easy bake instant yeast
- 4 large eggs
- 125 ml milk whole or semi-skimmed
- 175 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 large egg
- For the dough: Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Making sure the salt and yeast do not touch. Then in a separate bowl whisk the four eggs together briefly so they are beaten and combined. Turn the mixer on, on a low speed and combine the dry ingredients for 30 seconds. Then pour in the beaten eggs and milk. Turn the mixer up to a medium-high speed and knead for 10 minutes, pushing the flour into the centre of the mixture every now and then,
- Then with the mixer still running, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, waiting for each piece to be absorbed before adding another. This process should take around 10 minutes. Then knead for a further 3-5 minutes until the dough is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl.
- Pour into a large glass bowl and cover. Then leave in a warm place to prove for at least an hour until doubled in size. Your dough will be ready when it springs back slowly when pressed. Meanwhile, butter the base and sides of two 2lb loaf tins and set aside.
- Then turn the dough out onto a clean worksurface and fold into itself a few times, to knock the air out. Then divide into 14 pieces, and roll each piece into a ball. Place 7 balls into each loaf tin – with 4 balls on the left-hand side and 3 balls on the right-hand side in the gaps. Then leave to prove again in a warm place for 45 minutes, until the dough has puffed up. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4.
- To glaze: Once the loaves have proved, beat the remaining egg in a small bowl until combined. Then using a pastry brush, glaze over the proved dough. Then bake in the oven for 35 minutes until nicely browned on top. Leave in the tins to cool for 15 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
Looking for a simpler but still delicious bread? Give my Cholla Loaf a try!