Brioche is a very decadent bread containing plenty of eggs, milk and butter. Light and fluffy, its buttery texture gives the illusion of pastry. Brioche makes an excellent sandwich bread or can be just as easily eaten with just a bit of jam. Brioche can be braided (as shown) or just make as a simple loaf that is sliced.
1/4 cup warm milk
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
2 teaspoons honey
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Egg wash (1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon milk)
Mix the yeast and honey in a bowl and add the warmed milk. Allow the yeast to activate for 10 minutes. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, add the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla and sugar. Whisk together and add the flour 1 cup at a time. Use the dough hook attachment to mix and create a crumbly dough. Add the butter in increments followed by the yeast mixture. Knead in the mixing bowl until the dough comes together and can be lifted off the bottom of the bowl. The dough is very soft and tacky at this point, but should not stick to your fingers.
Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on the floured surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough and your hands and begin to knead the dough by folding it into itself. Continue this process for 5 minutes. Place the dough into a buttered bowl that is large enough that it will not spill over. Cover with plastic wrap and and towel and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
Once it has risen, you will knead the dough a second time and roll it into a log shape. Cut the log into 8 equal pieces and each of the 8 pieces into 3 pieces. Roll the three small pieces out into a thin log shape and braid by placing one log over the other. Tuck the ends in under the braid and place on a lined baking sheet. Repeat process until all eight braided logs are formed. Brush the tops with an egg wash and allow them to rest for 1 to 2 hours (until they double in size).
Preheat the oven to 325°F and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 8 buns.
Note: This recipe can also be used to make one loaf. Instead of cutting into 8 pieces, knead down and place in a greased and floured loaf pan.