Buttery brioche is the best thing for breakfast. Just make sure you have the right tin for your dough.
The classic brioche has a sophisticated shape: fluted but open, wider than kugelhopf without the chimney in the centre, like bundt. It’s French – what would you expect?
I didn’t have the appropriate tin when I set out to bake my first brioche so I looked brioche tins up and ordered one. It was touch and go as my dough was already made and resting in the fridge when the courier turned up with a package for me. A VERY SMALL package.
I won’t go into detail but the bottom line is: I have no understanding of dimensions. No feel for how large or small things might be. No idea how much 5 inch is (he he). I'd ordered what I’d thought was a full sized tin, happily oblivious to the clearly specified dimensions on the merchant’s website: 45(H) x 120(Ø) mm. A hundred and twenty millimetres, twelve centimetres, five inch. That in a cake tin is, you know, tiny. The thing cost about a fiver too but that didn’t give me any hints – I thought I got a good deal.
I sure used it – as well as several other mini-cups/savarins/whatever I had in the cupboard. The brioche turned out delicious and it actually was a good job to have the individual buns rather than one king-size as I froze them and defrosted for breakfasts over several occasions. But still. An idiot. And to think I have A level Maths.
I have subsequently bought a normal size tin but I like the convenience of having several small brioches and so the recipe goes: six mini buns. If you’d like to make a mega-one, use a 22cm mould. Twenty-two. Dinner plate sized. The diameter of a watermelon. As large as a hat.
The images show both the mini brioches with impressive muffin tops, baked in a six-bun silicone mould, as well as one large fluted-tin brioche. As lovely as each other – which makes sense since it was the same dough…
A note to the recipe: brioche dough is so rich when freshly kneaded it’s almost liquid. That’s why it needs to chill for an hour to be manageable.
briocheServings: makes 6 mini briochesTime: 6 hours in total
- 15g fresh or 5 g instant yeast
- 100g buttermilk, at room temperature
- 60g caster sugar
- 380g French flour type 55 or strong bread flour
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 3 large eggs plus 1 extra beaten, for brushing
- 170g unsalted butter, softened plus more for the tins
- pearl sugar
Note: these instructions are for 6 x mini brioches in a bun tin, 4 x 7cm each hole. If making one large brioche, use a 22cm fluted tin and don’t divide the dough.
1. Stir the fresh yeast into the buttermilk in a large bowl, or the bowl of the standing mixer (it will be a real chore to knead it by hand). Sprinkle a spoonful of sugar and leave to foam up a little, about 30 minutes.
2. Add the remaining sugar, flour, salt and eggs to the bowl and mix with a dough hook attachment for 10 minutes at high speed until the dough gathers into a ball and, ideally, bounces off the walls of the bowl.
3. Turn the speed down to medium and add the butter by a tablespoon, waiting for each one to be absorbed. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary. The dough should be smooth, glossy and very sticky. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl in a warm place for 2 hours, till it doubles in volume; then chill it in the fridge for 1 hour.
4. Turn the dough gently onto a lightly floured surface; it is essential to manipulate it as little as possible. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and gather them into balls. Cover them with a tea towel and leave for 30 minutes.
5. Thoroughly butter the tins, even if using silicone ones.
6. When the dough balls have rested, scoop each with your hands and tighten them gently into a ball shape. Drop the balls into the tins, seam side down. Place the tins on a baking tray, cover with plastic and leave in a warm place to prove for about 40-60 minutes, until almost doubled in volume. If in doubt, under- rather than overprove them.
7. Preheat the oven to 170C (no fan)/340F/gas 3. Brush the brioches with beaten egg, snip a cross in the top of each one with small scissors and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until deep golden.
8. Let the brioche cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack.