Brioche is a French staple, associated with foie gras terrine and Marie Antoinette, who said in relation to the starving poor of Paris: ‘Let them eat brioche.’
It’s one of those breads that can be transformed from a fairly humble egg and butter dough to form the basis of glorious French toast, a bread and butter pudding, a great burger bun or the most divine breadcrumbs for fish.
Makes 1 loaf or 6–8 buns
275 g soft butter, plus extra for buttering 550 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting 60 g caster sugar
30 g fresh yeast or 7 g sachet dried yeast 90 ml tepid milk
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Butter and flour a 26 cm loaf tin or a baking tray if you are making buns.
Combine the flour and caster sugar in a mixing machine.
Dissolve the yeast in the tepid milk, then add to the flour mixture along with 6 eggs. Mix for about 15 minutes, or until very smooth and elastic. Add the butter and mix until it’s totally incorporated into the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to prove until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Knock back the dough, then using wet hands roll it into three balls. Place in the prepared loaf tin, and leave to prove again until the balls of dough have doubled in size.
If you are making buns, divide the knocked back dough into
6–8 balls using wet hands. Stretch and tuck the dough back under itself to create smooth, round buns. Place the buns on the prepared baking tray, making sure you leave enough room in between each bun to allow them to prove until they have doubled in size.
Lightly beat the remaining egg to make an egg wash. Gently coat the dough with the egg wash, then bake for 30 minutes for a loaf, or 20 minutes for buns.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before using.