A Tried, Tested and True Brioche Recipe

brioche nanterre strawberry rhubarb jam

Or two actually, but let’s not rush there.

Updating images of old posts has been on my list forever. I’ve come to a place with my photography where it’s getting somewhat embarrassing to face my early works… I try to focus on the progress but still, I realize those images are not good. Not that I’m super satisfied with what I make now, clearly there is room for improvement but I’ll stop the moaning right there. Confidence comes with practice, there’s really no other way of going about it.

Changing visuals for this Easter challah made me recognise it’s not just the images – recipes evolve too. And while I totally vouch for that one, I’ve been using an updated version lately and it’s time to share!

Brioche is a French pastry, an enriched bread with high egg and butter content. It has a lovely, rich and tender crumb making it ideal for many, many things. I use this type of dough not only when making a braided challah for the holiday table, but for all the sweet rolls, buns, knots, braids and babkas on my repertoire as well.

The ingredients are pretty basic, the method is not complicated either but admittedly there is one tricky bit, and that’s proofing. That is where brioche-making can go south. You have to pay close attention to achieve the perfect rise, but – good news! – I’ve found a way around having to babysit your dough.

It’s the overnight method, putting the controlled environment of your fridge to good use. Ever since I’ve first made the dough this way, I never gone back to the same-day process again and I guess that says it all.

But why was I teasing two recipes? It’s simple. First, there’s the base recipe to bear every sweet filling you can think of. But when I don’t fill the dough, I want the absolute sweetest, most delicate texture I can create (hint: even more sugar and fat).

When you master this dough, the possibilities become endless. All you need to do is plan a night ahead.

Overnight Brioche Dough for Filling

  • Difficulty: medium
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Rich and tender French pastry, the basis for your sweet baking

Ingredients

500 g AP flour

1 packet active dry yeast

1 tsp salt

50 g sugar

1 egg + 1 yolk + 1 egg for eggwash (if recipe calls for it)

300 ml warm milk

50 g unsalted butter, softened

Directions

  1. Assemble dough the night before you want to bake. Sieve the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of your mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
  2. Add sugar to warm milk (make sure milk isn’t hot, it could kill the yeast), stir to dissolve.
  3. Make a well in the flour, add egg, yolk and milk mixture. Set machine to low.
  4. When dough comes together, increase speed to medium and gradually add butter, leaving time between each addition for butter and dough to fully combine.
  5. Continue mixing on medium until a shiny, elastic ball of dough is formed, not sticking to the bowl.
  6. Transfer dough to a lightly floured, clean bowl, cover with cling foil. Let ferment on the counter for 1 h (45 min if your kitchen is warm).
  7. Transfer to the fridge overnight. The next morning dough should be double its original size.
  8. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Turn out chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll, divide, fill, braid, etc. according to your recipe. Let rest 30 min. before transferring to oven.
  9. Bake until golden, 30-45 min. Enjoy!

Overnight Brioche Dough

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Rich and tender French pastry, sweet enough without filling and perfect for braiding.

Ingredients

500 g AP flour

1 packet active dry yeast

1 tsp salt

15 g vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

45 g sugar (60 g if using vanilla extract)

1 egg + 1 yolk + 1 egg for eggwash, beaten

200 ml milk

100 ml heavy cream

50 g unsalted butter, softened

Directions

  1. Assemble dough the night before you want to bake. Sieve the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of your mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
  2. Mix milk with cream, add sugar and vanilla sugar. If you can’t get vanilla sugar, use 60 g sugar and add 1 tsp vanilla extract. Slightly warm mixture in microwave, making sure milk is not hot (it could kill the yeast). Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Make a well in the flour, add egg, yolk and milk mixture. Set machine on low.
  4. When dough comes together, increase speed to medium and gradually add butter, leaving time between each addition for butter and dough to fully combine. Continue mixing on medium until a shiny, elastic ball of dough is formed, not sticking to the bowl.
  5. Transfer dough to a lightly floured, clean bowl, cover with cling foil. Let ferment on the counter for 1 h (45 min if your kitchen is warm).
  6. Transfer to the fridge overnight. The next morning dough should be double its original size.
  7. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Turn out chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and braid. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, carefully transfer dough to tray. Wash with egg.
  8. Let rise 30 min, wash with egg again.
  9. Transfer to oven, bake until golden (30-45 min). Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Transitioning to Fall With More Baking: Almond Butter Babka

almond butter babka

I am sad that summer is over but at the same time so very excited about fall! Not fully committed to waking up in the dark yet (it’s happening though… downside to being an early bird). Mornings are finally cooler and after the record-braking temps of past months, I actually enjoy putting on sleeves.

I’ve been reluctant to turn on the oven for weeks, but now things are back to normal: bread baking Saturdays are on again, and we started craving other baked goods too.

That’s the short story of my Almond Butter Babka, a really rich and tasty sweet bread we indulge in for breakfast every once in a while. It’s perfect alongside tea or coffee, but it’s by no means limited to morning consumption. Quite difficult to stop at just one slice too (I warned you!).

The history of babka is certainly uncertain, but it’s origins likely lay at distant generations of Eastern European Jews. It’s most consumed and associated with the culture in the Baltics, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus (the initial name was likely baba meaning grandmother in Slavic, later shifting to the diminutive form babka).

The well-known chocolate version seems to be a mid-century American Jewish invention: the dough is spread with cocoa, then rolled up tightly, twisted, folded, and finally baked into the rich loaves we love today.

This time I thought chocolate would be just too decadent though (WTF?), so it got filled with almond butter instead. Beyond being packed with protein, fiber and good fats, almond butter is also loaded with antioxidants, magnesium, iron, and potassium. My sister supplies me with Costco’s store brand Kirkland Signature Creamy Almond Butter which is an all natural, non-GMO, no sugar and no sodium added product. Just roasted almonds, and the price is decent too.

Unfortunately none of this is making your babka any healthier. At all. Plus, I sprinkled it with sugar too. Oh well 🙂 On the plus side, almond butter adds some serious sophistication – a deep, earthy flavor, while the sugar caramelises for a slightly crunchy sensation.

almond butter babka

The dough is the same egg and butter enriched brioche like the one I shared earlier in the post on braided challah, so I won’t repeat myself. At first, making the sliced braid might seem tricky, but it’s actually easier done than said. Practice makes perfect, and oh boy you’ll want to try this again and again!

The steps:

  1. Roll dough into a 1 cm (around 1/3”) thick rectangle.
  2. Spread with almond butter and sprinkle with packed dark brown sugar, leaving about an inch bare around the border.
  3. Starting on the long side, roll up tightly into a log.
  4. With a sharp knife, cut log in half lengthwise. It might get a bit messy, but don’t worry if the filling starts oozing out a bit. Just hold together the best you can, it’s still going to be delicious.
  5. Now you have two strips of filled dough. Pinch two ends together, and twist the logs around each other cut side up 2-3 times. Pinch ends together too.
  6. Place in a loaf pan, let rise, then bake as directed. Enjoy!

almond butter babka

almond butter babka

Love,

Fruzsi

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You Asked So Here It Is: Vanilla Brioche

vanilla brioche

After the post about yeast dough and my favorite cookbook on home baking, many of you requested that I share some recipes. And I’d love to oblige of course! The recipes in said book however are copyrighted material owned by the publisher, and I take intellectual property seriously.

But good news! Because of the high demand I’ve contacted Marcsi, the author and face behind Limara Péksége and she was kind enough to agree that I translate and convert recipes from her blog to share with you guys.

I’ve chosen her amazingly soft and fluffy vanilla brioche, a spectacular pastry looking like you picked it up from a chic high street French bakery. It’s guaranteed to impress with it’s fancy voluted shape, yet it’s much less difficult to make than you’d think.

Brioche, sometimes also referred to as the queen of yeast doughs, is a leavened Viennoiserie (the group of Viennese-style baked goods): it is made like bread, but has the richness of pastry because of the added eggs, butter, milk and sugar.

It is common to fill brioche with both sweet and savoury fillings although in this recipe, the vanilla is kneaded straight into the dough itself. Those lovely, tiny black seeds! Also this time, I had some leftover sliced almonds from Christmas baking which I sprinkled the chignons with (optional).

Rich and tender, this sweet treat is perfect for breakfast with butter and homemade jam, or would be an amazing snack to accompany a steaming cup of tea, latte, or hot chocolate and a girly chat.

They are best eaten fresh and warm, but stay soft and very enjoyable the day after thanks to the butter content.

vanilla brioche with almonds

And now without further ado, the recipe as promised:

Vanilla Brioche

  • Difficulty: medium
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Recipe adapted from Limara Péksége.

Ingredients

600 g/1.32 lbs all-purpose flour

seeds of 1 vanilla pod, scraped out

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1 egg + 1 yolk of an egg

3 tbsp sunflower oil

300 ml/10.1 fl oz warm milk

30 g (1.06 oz) fresh yeast or 9 g (1/3 oz) active dry yeast

150 g/5.3 oz butter, room temperature

1 egg whisked, for eggwash

Directions

  1. If using fresh yeast, add 1 tbsp sugar to 1/3 of the milk in a mug, crumble yeast in it and mix with 1 tbsp flour. Let yeast starter rise for 15 min, until top is crackled.
  2. If using dry yeast, sift it with the flour.
  3. Add all ingredients except butter to the bowl of an electric mixer attached with the dough hook, start kneading on low. After dough comes together, continue kneading on medium, for around 15 min.
  4. Cover, let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 min.
  5. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide to 6 or 12 equal parts, depending on how big brioches you want.
  6. Roll out dough balls to 6 mm / 1/4″ thickness and spread 1/6 or 1/12 of the butter on each. (Step A)
  7. Beginning with the long side, roll up buttered dough jelly roll fashion, to form approx. 40 cm/15.5” length ropes. (Step B)
  8. Make the chignons, tucking the end of the dough underneath. (Step C)
  9. Lay brioches on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, keeping enough distance between them and let rise for 45 min or until doubled in size.
  10. Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F. Wash brioches with the egg, than bake for around 20 min, until golden.
  11. Cool on a rack.

making brioche step 1
Step A
making brioche step 2
Step B
making brioche step 3
Step C

Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi