Homemade brioche is an amazingly rich, soft, French bread that is slightly sweet and enriched with eggs and plenty of butter. It's perfect for breakfast, sandwiches, or for making French toast! This recipe makes 2 - 9" loaves of bread.
If you love homemade bread and are looking for a fun and slightly challenging baking project then homemade brioche is just what you need! It is a slightly more advanced bread to make, but don't let that intimidate you! This post includes everything you need to know along with plenty of step-by-step photos to help guide you through the entire process.
WHAT IS BRIOCHE
Brioche is a French bread that is very soft with a rich, slightly sweet flavor. It's made with a high content of butter and eggs and is classified as a viennoiserie, which is a baked good made similar to bread but with characteristics making it more like a pastry. Croissants are another example of a viennoiserie. Brioche is most often eaten for breakfast or as a snack.
INGREDIENTS FOR HOMEMADE BRIOCHE BREAD
- Active-dry yeast: You will need 4 and ½ tsp. which is 2 standard packets.
- Whole milk: Warm milk (between 100-110° F). Microwave the milk in 15-second intervals until it's lukewarm to the touch. Just make sure it's not too hot or it will kill the yeast.
- Sugar: Adding the sugar to the yeast mixture with the milk helps to activate the yeast.
- Eggs: Brioche is an egg-heavy bread. It's made with 4 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks. The eggs should be added to the dough cold and straight out of the fridge.
- Butter: 2 full sticks of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, and cut into small pieces.
- Salt: Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour to the yeast mixture before adding the salt. You don't want to add salt directly to the yeast mixture because it can kill the yeast.
- All-purpose flour: Be careful when adding flour, you don't want to add more than you need or the bread will be dry and crumbly. Stir the flour around in the bag to loosen it up and then spoon it into your measuring cup and level it off with a knife. The dough for brioche is very soft and delicate, if you're kneading it by hand do your best to resist adding more flour.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE BRIOCHE
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk, active dry yeast, and sugar. Mix it around and let it sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved and slightly foamy. Mix in the eggs, egg yolks, and the softened butter. Add 1 cup of flour, followed by the salt, and then add the rest of the flour.
The easiest way to make brioche is to use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. The dough is very soft and kneading it by hand can tempt you to add too much flour because it will be pretty sticky.
That being said you absolutely can make brioche by hand! Mix the dough in the bowl using a wooden spoon, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and start kneading.
To knead by hand: Push the dough away from you using the palm of your hand, turn it 90°, fold it over, and push it away again. Here's a quick video tutorial if you need one!
Lightly dust your hands, fingers, and the surface every so often as needed to help with sticking. Do your best to resist adding too much flour to the dough. Start with 4 and ½ cups and if the dough is very sticky add 1 tbsp. more, only if absolutely necessary, don't add more than 4 tbsp.
Knead the dough by hand or in the stand mixer for 7-10 minutes. Kneading the dough develops gluten which is what gives the bread structure. If the dough isn't kneaded for long enough your bread will be very crumbly and fall apart. You'll know the dough has been kneaded enough when it's smooth, doesn't tear easily, and bounces back when gently pressed in.
After you've kneaded the dough, form it into a ball and place it in a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size. The time it takes to double in size can vary depending on how warm of an environment it's in. Placing the bowl near a warm oven or even putting it outside on a warm day will help the dough to rise faster.
SHAPE THE DOUGH
Punch the dough down to release the air, then divide it in half. A kitchen scale is best for accuracy. If you don't have one you should definitely get one! This is the one I have and I use it pretty much daily.
There are two methods you can use for shaping the dough. The first is to take one half of the dough and divide it into 8 equal portions, then roll each into a ball and arrange them in the pan. The second is to take one half of the dough and divide it into 3 equal portions, then roll each portion into a long and skinny rope, about 12" long. Attach all three at one end, then braid the dough the same way you would braid hair.
Don't worry if the shaped dough doesn't look pretty at this point. It's going to puff up a lot and turn beautifully golden brown once it's baked.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the shaped dough rise until doubled in size. Again, the time this will take depends on the warmth of the environment. If you don't have two loaf pans you can place one of the shaped loaves on a baking pan, cover it with plastic wrap, and alternate using the pan to bake the loaves.
Brush the tops of the shaped dough with a beaten egg and bake in a 375° oven for 15 minutes. Cover the pan with foil and continue baking for 20 more minutes.
Cover tightly or store in an airtight container and keep at room temperature. Homemade brioche stays soft for 1 week. Enjoy!
MORE BREAD RECIPES
- Stand mixer (optional)
- 2 - 9 x 5" loaf pans
- 4 and ½ teaspoon active-dry yeast, 2 standard packets
- ½ cup whole milk, lukewarm (not hot)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened and cut into pieces
- 1 and ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk, active dry yeast, and sugar. Mix it around and let it sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved and slightly foamy. Mix in the eggs, egg yolks, and the softened butter. Add 1 cup of flour, followed by the salt, and then add the rest of the flour.
- If making in a stand mixer: Once all of the flour is added, turn the mixer to high and knead for 7-10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky add 1 tbsp. more flour as needed only if absolutely necessary. No more than 4 tbsp. more. The dough should be smooth, elastic, and bounce back when gently pressed in.
- If making by hand: Use a large wooden spoon to mix the dough in the bowl and then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly dust the dough and your hands with flour and knead the dough by pushing it away with the palm of your hand, turn it 90 degrees, fold it over, and push it away again. Lightly dust your hands and the surface with more flour every so often to help keep the dough from sticking. If the dough is too sticky you can add 1 tbsp. more flour, but only if absolutely necessary and no more than 4 tbsp. more. Knead the dough for 7-10 minutes. It should be smooth, elastic, and bounce back when gently pressed in.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. The dough will rise faster in a warm environment.
- Shape the dough: Punch the dough down to release the air and divide it in half.
- For braided brioche: Divide each half of the dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a long, skinny rope, about 12" long. Attach them at one end and braid the dough like you would braid hair. See post for a visual. Place the shaped dough in a 9 x 5" loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap.
- For rolled brioche: Divide each half of the dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each into a ball and arrange in a 9 x 5" loaf pan and cover the pan with plastic wrap.
- Let the shaped brioche rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. It will rise faster in a warm environment. You can also refrigerate the shaped dough overnight if desired.
- When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg and bake for 15 minutes. Cover the pans with aluminum foil and continue baking for 20 minutes longer.