Kneading: 20 minutes
Rising and proving: 4 hours–overnight
Cooking: 25 minutes
It’s not easy finding good brioche, even ones made by respected bakers, as they can often be too dry, too greasy, or tasteless. So, chef Perlva Servan-Schreiber got to work and after umpteen attempts she perfected the ultimate brioche recipe. This one is perfect for its texture, lightness, and flavour, and the aroma that fills the whole house when you bake it.
- 2¼ sticks (9 oz./250 g) diced butter (the best you can get), at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 4 cups (1 lb./500 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (3½ oz./100 g) superfine sugar
- ½ oz. (15 g) fresh yeast, crumbled (or 1 tbsp instant yeast)
- 6 eggs
- 2 tsp fleur de sel
For the glaze (optional)
- Beaten egg yolk and sugar
1Grease a 5 × 10 in. (12 × 26 cm) loaf pan loaf pan with butter. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the flour, sugar, and yeast on high speed (without spattering yourself).
2With the mixer still on high speed, add 1 pinch of the fleur de sel and four of the eggs. Reduce the speed to medium and add the two remaining eggs, one at a time, mixing the first in before adding the second. When the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, add the remaining fleur de sel and the butter. Continue mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl again, but be patient—this will take a good 15 minutes. Turn the mixer off.
3The dough will look silky, feel elastic, and be a pale-yellow color, which is just perfect! Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature in a draft-free spot until doubled in volume (I put mine in the turned-off oven); you’ll have a good 2 hours on your hands.
4When the dough has doubled in volume, you will feel a great sense of satisfaction. To burst any air bubbles in it, punch the dough down four or five times and then pull and stretch it until it returns to its unrisen size. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for it to rise and double in volume again.
5Punch the dough down once more. You now have two choices. If you want to bake it that day, transfer the dough to the greased loaf pan, and let it prove until it doubles in volume, before baking according to the instructions below. Or, you can follow the advice of top pastry chef Pierre Hermé, who recommends covering the dough and placing it in the refrigerator overnight (it can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to one month). Let the dough come back to room temperature before baking.
6The brioche can be baked plain or brushed with egg yolk and sprinkled with sugar. The oven needs to be very hot, so preheat it to 425°F (220°C/Gas mark 7) before baking the brioche for 25 minutes. If, after 15 minutes, it is already sufficiently brown, cover it with aluminum foil for the remaining cooking time.
7Your brioche is done! Wait for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack, and resist eating it hot!