Buttery, soft, crispy exterior with a super soft middle, brioche is eating bread that tastes like a croissant…with a lot less work. It is a rich, decadent bread that is perfect for toasting, slathering with jam or eating plain. I was accustomed to picking up a loaf of grocery store brioche to make french toast for my family on special occasions, but with this recipe, those grocery store brioche days are in my past. With just a little planning and the work of a stand mixer, you can have some amazing loaves of bread and will never go back to the grocery store stuff again. Promise!
Use a stand mixer
A little disclaimer: This recipe really needs the use of a stand mixer. Brioche dough is very, very soft and unlike other dough that you may have worked with before. I would not try to hand-knead this dough. It kneads for a very long time as it incorporates all the butter. My hands are also usually warm and warm hands trying to incorporate butter will end in a melty mess. Do yourself a favor and pull out a stand mixer.
Brioche Dough is Unique
The first time I ever mixed up a batch of brioche, I was a bit overconfident. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this dough was definitely different than dough I had worked with in the past. I thought I had ruined the dough because it was so sticky, wet and taking forever to incorporate the butter. I now know that this is the normal process of brioche and the refrigeration process helps to solve all of those issues.
Why Should I Refrigerate Brioche Dough?
After mixing the brioche dough for a long time…at least 5 minutes before adding the butter and then 15-20 minutes as you incorporate all the butter (yes, please use a mixer for this dough!), the dough will turn shiny and be sticky. Transfer the wet dough to a large bowl. You may think, “this can’t be right!” but it is! Cover the dough with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge overnight (or up to 8 hours). While in the fridge the cold air helps solidify the butter and makes the dough more workable in the morning. The dough should be left in the fridge for 8 hours or up to 2 days. This long refrigeration time not only makes the dough easier to handle and shape but improves the flavor. Win-win!
How to Shape Brioche
Once you pull your dough out of the refrigerator, cut the dough into two loaves and then decide how to shape your bread. Add a little bit of flour (not more than a Tablespoon) to the countertop and place the cold dough on top. Work the flour in a bit and shape it. Some of my favorite shapes for brioche are pictured below:
Alternate balls of bread in a loaf pan
Cut into three pieces, roll into three long strips and braid
Fill with cinnamon sugar (or other filling), roll up cinnamon-roll style, cut and twist
Make 6-8 buns out of one loaf of dough, shape into balls and flatten with hand
I do have a very good brioche burger bun recipe on my blog already, but I often will make burger buns out of whatever brioche dough I am making. In the case of this recipe, instead of shaping another loaf, I shape 6-8 buns out of the dough even if we won’t be using them immediately. If I’m going to take the time to make brioche, I may as well make some extra buns! The buns freeze so well, toast up beautifully and are ready to pull out anytime we decide to throw some burgers on the grill.
Brioche Has a Longer Shelf Life
Due to the high amounts of egg and butter, brioche has a bit of a longer shelf life than traditional bread. After a few days if we have brioche left over, I like to slice the remaining loaf and freeze it. When we want a piece, we will pull a slice out and toast it. We also use leftover brioche to make amazing french toast if the bread has been left out for a few days without being eaten. I usually have to reserve a loaf specifically for french toast because it doesn’t happen very often that we have leftover brioche.
A Little Planning for a Big Payoff
Brioche takes more of a time investment than a traditional loaf of bread. I don’t find it difficult, just something to plan around. This recipe makes two loaves of bread. If you’re going to take the time, you might as well get two loaves out of it! I will often double this recipe for my Kitchen Aid Mixer (affiliate link, though if you are in the market for one I would make sure and check Costco before purchasing from Amazon: they have great deals!) and make four loaves. This gives me enough dough to shape some of my brioche into burger buns, some into loaves of plain brioche and gives one or two loaves of cinnamon swirl brioche. I always end up sharing a loaf too.
Easy Overnight Brioche
Yield: Two loaves of brioche
Time: 40 minute mix/knead, Overnight refrigeration (8 hours to 2 days), 20 minute shape, 3 hour rise, 45 minute bake
- ½ cup milk, warmed
- 2 Tablespoons instant yeast
- 6 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6 large eggs
- 5 ½ – 6 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup (20 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
Day 1 (Evening)
- Warm the milk in the microwave (be sure that it is warm – not hot, or it will kill the yeast).
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the warm milk, instant yeast and sugar. Check to make sure the yeast is activating. It will look a little bubbly and smell yeasty within a minute or two.
- Add the salt and eggs. Stir to combine.
- With the dough hook running, begin adding the flour a cup at a time into the mixer. Depending on the size of your eggs, you will need a little more or less flour. The dough should be a little sticky and clear the sides of the mixing bowl. Mix well until all the flour is incorporated. Knead for 5 minutes.
- While the mixer is kneading, cut the butter into chunks.
- Add the butter a cube at a time into the mixer, trying to place the butter right near the dough hook in the center of the bowl.
- Once all the butter has been added, knead the dough for 15-20 minutes.
- As the dough kneads, the butter will incorporate into the dough and the dough will become glossy and smooth. It will also be sticky and a little wet looking.
- After a long kneading process, transfer the dough to a large bowl (with enough room for the dough to double in size in the fridge). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge overnight or at least 8 hours to rise. You can leave the dough in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Day 2 (Morning)
- When ready to shape your brioche, pull the dough out of the fridge. Lightly flour a hard surface and turn the brioche dough out onto the floured surface.
- Cut the dough in half and set one half to the side for the second loaf.
- Line two loaf pans (my favorite here, affiliate link) with parchment paper.
- Shape the brioche as desired.
- Cover the loaves and let rise in a warm place (not hot or the butter in the dough will melt). I like to choose a window or place the dough under a light to rise. Let brioche rise for about 3 hours until puffed up.
- Once the brioche has just about doubled in size, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a small bowl, crack an egg. Add a teaspoon of water and whip together with a fork. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash lightly over the brioche.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. After 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30-35 minutes. Check on the brioche in the middle of baking. If it is browning too quickly, cover the tops of the loaves with a piece of foil to prevent further browning.
- Allow the loaves to cool before slicing into them. Enjoy!
Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂