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When I was in Rome last fall, I tried Sicilian brioche for the first time. The bread was absolutely incredible: rich, buttery, and wonderfully bronzed with just a hint of sweetness. It’s the kind of food experience that leaves an impression, so I set my sights on baking my own. After a bit of research, I settled on the recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you’re unfamiliar with the book (or the most helpful website, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day), the premise is simple: homemade dough that can be mixed and refrigerated for days (no kneading required!).
Once chilled, the brioche dough is easy to work with (though I do suggest flouring your board or counter liberally) and an ideal base for variations. The finished loaf is light and tender, slicing like a pound cake with a similar tight and dense crumb. Honey lends just a touch of sweetness and I couldn’t resist a sprinkle of turbinado sugar for crunch.
I’m including a few sets of in-process photos to give you visuals of the dough texture, braiding technique, and rise. A jam-topped slice makes a wonderful breakfast; leftover slices can be used to make a decadent French toast or bread pudding.
• I used a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to mix the dough.
• For accuracy, I highly encourage use of weighted measures (included below) and a digital scale.
• I’ve scaled down the original recipe to make a single loaf. You’ll have leftover dough which can be chilled up to 5 days; I’ll share another recipe next week that works well with the remaining dough.
3/4 cup water (170 grams)
1/2 Tbsp Red Star PLATINUM Yeast
1/2 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup honey (85 grams)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature (228 grams)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (170 grams)
3 3/4 cups flour (530 grams)
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp water
Heat water in a microwave-safe measuring cup for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until very warm (120-130°F). Combine warm water, yeast, salt and honey in a large mixer bowl; mix on low speed until incorporated. Add eggs and melted butter; mix until combined. Gradually mix in flour, just until combined. Cover mixer bowl loosely with plastic and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, place the covered dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 5 days (Dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions up to two weeks and thawed for 24 hours in the refrigerator before using). When ready to bake, spray an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and flour board or counter well.
Dust surface of dough with flour and use a floured bench scraper or kitchen shears to cut off a 1 1/2-pound piece of dough (keep remaining dough in the refrigerator up to 5 days). Dust the piece with more flour and use floured hands to quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating dough as you go. Cut dough into three equal pieces; gently roll each piece into a 12-inch rope.
To make a three-strand braid, start at one end and pinch the ends of the rope together. Bring the right outside rope over the center rope; that rope now becomes the center. Bring the left outside rope over the new center rope; that rope now becomes the center. Continue braiding until you reach the end; pinch ropes together to seal (visual guide here).
Carefully transfer braid to prepared pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 90 minutes. In the last 20 minutes, preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk egg yolk and water together in a small bowl; use a pastry brush to gently glaze the top of the loaf; sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until brioche is deep golden and set. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes; turn out of pan to cool completely before slicing with a serrated bread knife.
Yield – 1 loaf, 12 servings per loaf
Calories – 170 (per slice)
Carbs – 20
Adapted from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, with permission