Think melt in your mouth, swoon-worthy brioche is available only at the bakery? Think again. You can make brioche at home – it’s a special brunch treat and one that is truly made with patience and love.
A bakery for every baked good
As someone who enjoys food, well, a lot, I have more than one favorite bakery. Among many others, there’s the bakery that makes the delicious tarts, the one that makes the baguettes I have literally had dreams about, the go-to bakery for incredible birthday cakes, the bakery for when I want to treat myself to a cupcake, and the bakery with the melt-in-your-mouth sugar brioche rolls.
Ah, the sugar brioche rolls
Rolls so lovely and rich that even my animals know they are something special, and have swiped them for their personal consumption. I’m not kidding. Although I am a fairly adept baker, I typically have left the brioche-making to the pros. But recently, after the animals enjoyed what was to be my special breakfast treat, I decided to learn how to do it. While it is not something I’ll do every weekend, I’m glad I have this special treat down for future special times. A Valentine’s Day brunch for my loves would be the perfect time.
Making brioche is not hard
It takes time and patience more than any special skill. You need to have good ingredients of course, and a stand mixer, but beyond that, it’s mostly time needed to develop the texture fully. Brioche should have a very fine texture – in addition to its rich flavor.
Brunch brioche is best
I mention that these would be good for a brunch, and that is because my best brioche rolls were a two-day process: I made the dough (the “hard” work) the night before (just before making dinner) and did the final shaping, rising, baking and sugar rolling in the morning. The rest and rise portion of the morning is still a fair bit of time, so unless you like to get up at 5AM, brunch is the right meal for these.
Brioche is one of those special occasion recipes
I do think that everyone should have a couple spectacular recipes in their repertoire for special occasions. The following brioche is one of those recipes for me now. With a lovely vegetable strata, fresh fruit, rich coffee, and some mimosas, these rolls round out an amazing brunch.
Sugar Brioche Rolls
Makes 16 rolls
1/3 cup whole milk, warmed to 100 to 110 degrees F.
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
5 large eggs
3-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1-1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the milk, yeast, 1 egg and 1 cup of flour. Bring it together with a few swift strokes. Sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the mixture and let stand for 35 minutes.2. Add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 4 eggs (lightly beaten), salt and 1 cup of the flour to the mixture. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until the mixture just comes together. Add another 1/2 cup of flour, mixing on low speed to incorporate, and then increase the mixture speed to medium.
3. Beat at medium speed for 15 minutes. Yes, a full 15 minutes. And yes, your stand mixer will become quite warm to the touch. At the 10-minute mark, make sure the dough is really coming together, working its way up the hook and slapping against the side of the bowl. If the dough needs a little more flour, be very sparse in adding it. No more than a couple of tablespoons at most.
4. Take 12 tablespoons of the butter and cut into tablespoon-size pats. On a smooth surface, such as a marble board, use a dough scraper to smear each tablespoon across the surface of the board, scrape it off the surface, then add it to the dough, tablespoon by tablespoon. Doing this ensures the butter is at the right consistency to be worked into the dough.
5. After adding all the butter, let the dough mix for another 5 minutes. You may need to scrape down the side of the mixing bowl once or twice. The dough will be extremely smooth and soft. The “hard” work is now over; time to access your patience.
6. Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (don’t use the proof setting in your oven if you have one) for 2-1/2 hours. Deflate the dough gently. Pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl and release, all the way around. Cover with plastic wrap again and place in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 4 hours).
7. The next morning, the dough will have risen some more. It will also be much firmer. Turn the dough out onto a work surface (that marble slab would be good) and divide it in half. Divide each of the halves into half, and so on, until you have 16 pieces.
8. Use cooking spray to oil 16 cups in two muffin tins. Roll each hunk of dough into something resembling a ball and place a ball into each oiled cup. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 1-1/2 hours. The dough will warm up and rise a bit.
9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes, then release them from the muffin tins, using a sharp knife to gently help them out, if necessary Let cool for another 10 minutes.
10. Melt the last 4 tablespoons of butter. In a food processor, whir the sugar until it has a finer texture (you could also just use superfine sugar). Pour the sugar out into a wide bowl. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush a roll with some melted butter, then immediately roll in the sugar until well covered. Shake off the excess. Let sit about 5 minutes before serving.
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