August 22, 2013 by epaduani
Most people are familiar with the cute little brioche top-knot rolls, their light and airy style ideally suited to any gourmet dinner. But a brioche bread? Quite honestly, I have never seen a loaf of bread referred to as brioche. But does that mean it doesn’t exist? Well, in 1973 when Beard on Bread was first published, it certainly wasn’t a mainstream style of loaf bread (if it existed at all…) as Jim began the recipe by say that this is “not the classic brioche bread that one prepares for the little top-knotted rolls, although similar to it.” He went on to add that “this is a loaf that is especially good for delicate sandwiches, such as the popular onion sandwich hors d’ouevre I created years ago.” The recipe itself looks rather simple and straightforward, and there is no kneading involved so that is always a treat.
I will be adding a link at the bottom of this recipe for Jim’s Onion Sandwiches recipe.
Brioche Bread [2 loaves]
1 1/2 packages active dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 115°, approximately)
1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk mixed with 1/4 cup evaporated milk or light cream
I started out by combining the yeast, sugar and warm water in a glass measuring cup so that the yeast could proof. While the yeast was proofing for 5 minutes or so, I melted the two sticks of butter and mixed in the salt. Then, in a large mixing bowl, I combined the flour and eggs. Then I poured the butter and yeast mixtures into the mixing bowl and stirred it.
Jim said to “beat with the hand until smooth.” That was all he had to say about this, so I had to take it on faith that this was to be a very light dough. It was not the typical clump of dough that I had grown accustomed to, though it was solid and held together nicely. It wasn’t loose or runny, just light and “squishy” (for lack of a better word…). I put my dough in my buttered flower bowl, rolled it around to get it all coated with butter, covered it with a towel and set it on top of my stove to rise until “light and doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.”
After about 1 hour and 20 minutes the dough had risen sufficiently so I removed it from the bowl and punched it down on my counter which I had dusted with a little bit of flour as though was somewhat sticky. I formed it into two loaves and fit them into my buttered 8 x 4 x 2-inch loaf pans. I covered them with a towel and set them aside to rise again until “doubled in bulk”, which Jim said should take about 1 hour.
I let the dough rise a second time for one hour and then I preheated my oven to 400°. I mixed the egg yolk and evaporated milk together to create a glaze and then I painted it onto the two loaves. When the oven reached 400° I put the two baking tins in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. Jim said to bake until “the loaves are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped with the knuckles.” After 30 minutes I checked the loaves and both of them had a nice golden brown color and suitable passed the “sounds hollow” test so I took them out of the oven and set both loaves on a rack too cool.
The first thing that caught my attention was the aroma of the bread. They smelled fantastic. I wish they had risen a bit more than they did, but maybe a smaller pan would have yielded a bigger loaf. They certainly had a deep golden color, so that was a plus. I let them cool for about an hour and then cut into one of the loaves. It had a nice crust on the top, more flaky than hard. The texture of the loaf was a little bit crumbly, but a normal slice held together nicely. It tasted just like the brioche rolls that I am more familiar with and had that distinct aroma of an egg bread. I put some butter on a slice and that tasted even better. Just because there are two sticks of butter in the recipe doesn’t mean a little more won’t make it better, right? My little helper liked it as well, so good thing the recipe makes two loaves or else no one else would get any. For a classic bread like brioche, I think this turned out quite fine. Now all I need to do is make some onion sandwiches…
Here is a link to Jim’s “Onion Sandwiches” recipe, which has been “popular since the 1965 publication of Menus for Entertaining.” A recipe that is almost 50 years old on a classic bread?
That’s my idea of good eating.