Brioche is a buttery French bread that tastes like a pastry. It is typically eaten for breakfast in France, and makes the perfect dairy challah for Shavuot. When I learned how to make brioche in pastry school in Paris, we were instructed how to prepare it by hand.
Makes two medium loaves
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water
1/4 cup (50g) plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1/2 ounce (2 envelopes, 14g) dry yeast
2 1/2 cups (315g) bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten slightly, plus 1 egg for glazing
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks, 170g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing bowl
2 teaspoons water for glaze
Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a measuring cup, add the teaspoon sugar and yeast and stir. Let the mixture sit five minutes, or until thick. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the flour, salt and ¼ cup (50g) sugar and mix. Add the four eggs and proofed yeast mixture and mix with the dough hook on low speed for two minutes, scraping down the bowl and hook two to three times. Turn the speed up to medium and knead for eight minutes, stopping to scrape down the hook and sides of the bowl 3 to 4 times. Turn the speed to low and add the 1½ sticks (170g) soft butter, two tablespoons at a time, making sure each addition is fully mixed in before adding more butter. When all the butter has been added, turn the speed to medium and mix for three minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl once or twice.
Place the dough into a medium bowl greased with the tablespoon butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour. Remove the dough from the bowl, punch down by folding over a few times, then gather the dough back into a ball and return it to the bowl. Cover the dough with the plastic and let rise for 30 minutes. Once again, remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down, return to the bowl, and cover it. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour your hands and kitchen counter. Divide the dough in half and braid each half into a challah, adding a little more flour to your hands if the dough feels a little sticky. Place the challahs on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Beat remaining egg
with two teaspoons water. Brush the challahs all over with the mixture. Let them rise for one hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush challahs again with the egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Store wrapped in foil at room temperature for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.
Paula Shoyer is the author of Healthy Jewish Kitchen (Sterling Epicure 2017), The New Passover Menu (Sterling 2015), The Holiday Kosher Baker (Sterling Press 2013), and The Kosher Baker: 160 dairy-free desserts from traditional to trendy (Brandeis 2010) . Paula’s recipes have been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs and on radio and TV shows all over the United States, Canada, Israel and even Asia.
Reprinted with permission from The Holiday Kosher Baker © 2013 by Paula Shoyer, Sterling Epicure.