Making brioche is a very messy business but you will be thankful you tried it when you tear into the light, buttery loaf
- 75ml (3fl oz) milk
- 40g (1 ½oz) sugar
- 2tsp dried active yeast or 10g fresh yeast
- 450g (1lb) strong white bread flour
- 1 ½tsp salt
- 5 large free-range eggs, beaten
- 300g (10oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large free-range egg, beaten
- 1tbsp milk
- 2 x 900g (2lb) loaf tins, greased with melted butter, chilled and floured
In the unlikely event that you have any brioche left over, chop it up and toast it in the oven for delicious crunchy croutons to add to salads.
In a small saucepan scald the milk until just boiling and then allow to cool until lukewarm. In a cup, mix 2tbsp of the lukewarm milk and 1tsp of the sugar with the yeast and until you have a smooth, creamy paste.
Mix the flour with the rest of the sugar and the salt in a large bowl, making a well in the centre. Add the beaten eggs, the creamed yeast and the rest of the milk mixing until you have a very sticky dough.
With the dough hook attachment of an electric mixer or whisk, work the dough until smooth but still very sticky. If you are using your hands, reach into the bowl and grab the dough, pulling it up to shoulder height and then pushing it back down again into the bowl until smooth but very sticky. Cover with oiled cling film and leave for up to 3 hours in a warm place until doubled in size.
With an electric whisk, beat the softened butter until it is the same texture as the dough. If using an electric mixer, add the softened butter to the dough a handful at a time until smooth and shiny. Or by hand tip the risen dough onto the work surface and work the butter into the dough by taking a large pinch of softened butter and burying it into the centre of the dough. Pull the dough up towards you with your finger tips and then push it away from you back down onto the work surface. Keep kneading the butter into the dough like this until it is all gone and the dough is smooth and shiny.
Scrape into a bowl and cover with oiled cling film, then leave to rise in the fridge overnight, or until doubled in size. At this point the dough can be kept chilled for 24 hours before using.
Divide the cold dough in two with floured hands. Either shape into two plain loaves or divide the dough again into three, roll into even sausage shapes and plait. Transfer to the prepared loaf tins and cover with oiled cling film. Leave to rise in a cool place for 2 hours or until the dough has just puffed up over the edge of the tin.
Preheat the oven to 190 C, 170 C fan, 375 F, gas 5. To glaze, brush the loaves with the egg and milk mixture being careful not to let the glaze run into the tin. Bake for 35 minutes covering with foil half way through until deep golden brown and well risen. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.