There’s a reason why everything Julia Child made tastes amazing: butter. And with a bunch of Tillamook butter, this bread gets even more flaky and pastry-like.
Because I’m a nerd, I wanted to see where the term “brioche” came from, so I looked it up on good old Merriam Webster. Here’s what I found.
light slightly sweet bread made with a rich yeast dough
French, from Middle French dialect, from brier to knead, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German brehhan to break
First Known Use: 1826
Makes sense, right? You have to knead the dough substantially to get all the butter to integrate properly, and it does indeed break a bit on the top when it’s done baking. Interesting that it was “first used” in 1826, though I’m assuming that’s because there weren’t many cookbooks before that time.
This recipe doesn’t take a whole lot of ingredients, but the trick is the timing of the thing. With four rounds of rising, including the initial sponge, this can take more than 24 hours. I started yesterday before going on a hike so the dough could have all day to rise.
It’s a bit messy without a KitchenAid or a doughhook mixing device (and my mixer is wholly inadequate), so I decided to use my hands. I figured this is the way things used to be done anyway, so all I can do is make it more authentic, right? Maybe. Hand-mixi
ng dough is fun, yet sticky. It got all over everything, especially my hoodie, my computer and my mouth.
The best part of the whole hours-long process, though, was integrating the butter (one and a half sticks’ worth). I appreciated the phrase “beat it into submission,” which I promptly did with my trusty coffee thermos (having not yet acquired a rolling pin). I will probably use this method in the future for softening butter because it brought it to the perfect consistency without melting it or making it oily. I actually appreciated not having a stand mixer for this part because it was fun to feel the textures and watch everything come together. Sometimes I forget how much of a sensory adventure cooking can be.
Then, the waiting game began. This is the dough before the first rise. I enlisted Eileen’s help to transfer it from the top of the fridge to inside the fridge while I was gone, and then I left it to chill out overnight.
The next morning, I woke, let it rise for another couple hours, and then set our gas oven to 25 degrees below what the recipe called for. And sadly, the loaves still turned out brown. But that’s part of trial and error, I suppose, and regardless, they taste delicious! I’m glad I gave them plenty of air time to mitigate all that yeast.
Look at those beauties! I think I could’ve made three wee loaves out of this, but I only have one loaf pan and a square pan, so I decided to go for a big and a small. We might share some with the neighbors, or I might make a big batch of French toast.
Honestly, though, we’ve been enjoying eating it simply with just a wee bit of fake butter. For all the long hours that went into it, brioche turned out to be pretty darn successful.