Here to show you just how easy making enriched brioche dough is. Nothing beats biting down on a light, buttery piece of this heavenly French brioche bread that literally melts into your mouth. My guide, packed full of process shots, takes you step by step into making this divine dough. I’ll also share with you my favourite enriched brioche dough recipe and various ways to use this dough. Happy baking friends.
Brioche bread has been a long standing favourite bread in my household. Until last year, though, I'd placed in the ‘too hard basket’. And then I jumped in the deep end and had a go. What did I learn? Yes it’s time consuming with the rest/proof and chill times .... but the steps themselves are surprisingly easy. Plus there are SO many ways to use the dough. My aim for you is to jump in with me, learn how to make enriched brioche dough and then get creative with it!
What exactly is Enriched Brioche Dough?
Unlike other bread doughs that consist of flour, water yeast and salt (we call these lean doughs), enriched dough includes fats, sugar and dairy. These extra ingredients leave you with a rich, buttery bread with an exceptionally tender crumb. When warm and fresh out of the oven, brioche bread literally melts in your mouth. There’s nothing like it.
Now we know what enriched brioche dough is, let's go into exactly what ingredients are used in the dough.
What ingredients are in Enriched Brioche Dough?
Yeast: I use active dry yeast which means that prior to baking we need to activate the yeast. We do this by mixing it into warm milk with some sugar (you could use honey if you prefer.) Whisk it together and let it stand for 15 minutes. The yeast will then become frothy and bubbly. This step allows you to test that the yeast is ‘alive’ as over time it can ‘expire’. If it doesn’t bubble you’ll need to use a new packet and start this process again. Using fresh yeast is also an option but there is no need to activate it.
Milk: It needs to be warm (approx 35C/95F if you use a thermometer) as this helps activate the yeast initially and provide moisture to the dough
Sugar: Whilst providing sweetness, it also feeds the yeast and helps activate it.
Flour: Use plain flour/all-purpose flour to provide structure to the dough
Salt: Always necessary to season any bread to help add flavour
Eggs: Acts as a binding agent but also adds flavour and richness.
Vanilla Bean Paste: I add it to the dough when making the sweet bread combined with other sweet toppings. It adds depth of flavour to the dough. If making a brioche loaf to eat with savoury foods then feel free to omit the vanilla paste.
Butter: An invaluable and neccessary addition to brioche as it adds immeasurable flavour and aids in providing that tender crumb. Brioche just isn’t brioche without the butter!
How do you make Enriched Brioche Dough?
So without further ado. Let's get into the step by step process of how we made this amazing dough.
- Activate the yeast: Add the yeast, warm milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar into a bowl. Give it a whisk and set aside for 15 minutes.
- The yeast mixture should then be frothy and bubbly. Your yeast is now activated and ready to use
3. Add flour, remaining sugar and salt to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. (3) Quickly mix together. (3)
TIP: I just hold the dough hook and use it to mix the dry ingredients together and then fit it to the stand mixer
4. Add the eggs, foaming yeast mixture, and vanilla bean paste into the bowl of the stand mixer and mix on low speed for 5 minutes until the dough starts to come together. If the dough is struggling to come together and needs a little more moisture, then add one tablespoon of milk extra at a time.
NOTE: The size of your eggs can impact the moisture in the dough. If they are too small then you’ll need to add a little extra milk as mentioned above.
5. Whilst the mixer is still running on medium speed, add the butter gradually, one knob (tablespoon) at a time and mix until incorporated. Don’t rush this process so that the butter can emulsify properly with the dough. Then turn the mixer up to med-high and knead for ten minutes. The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl and have formed a ‘tornado’ around the dough hook.
6. The dough should be smooth, shiny and elastic by now. To check that the dough has developed enough elasticity, perform the window pane test. Tear a small ball from the dough. Using your fingers and thumb to hold each side of the dough ball, stretch the dough gently. You should be able to see the light shining through the stretched dough without the dough tearing. If the dough tears then knead for another two minutes and test again.
7. Tip the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and stretch and fold each corner into the middle.
8. Turn the dough over so that the seams are underneath and you’ll have a lovely smooth dough ball. Lightly grease a bowl (all the way up the sides) and place the dough into the bowl gently. Cover with cling wrap and let rise for 1 ½ hours in a warm place or until doubled in size for the doughs first rise/proof.
NOTE: If the temperature in your kitchen is very warm then the dough may rise quicker then the 1 ½ hours allotted. Equally if your kitchen is very cold (in winter) then the dough may take longer.
TIP: If your kitchen is cold, then place your covered bowl into your oven with the oven light on only and the oven door closed. The ambient light creates a perfect temperature for the dough to rise.
9. Once the dough has risen double or more in size, gently punch down the dough and tip onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, shape into a square and wrap in cling wrap.
If you are making a Brioche Loaf then please skip the rest if these step by step instructions and head further down the post to the section where I show you How To Make A Brioche Loaf.
Continue on with the below steps if you are making scrolls, babka, wreath or knots.
10. The dough at this point needs chilling in my option, as it makes it SO much easier to roll out and shape. Either refrigerate the wrapped dough for 2 hours or freeze the dough for 45 minutes. I personally prefer to freeze the dough as its quicker. Plain and simple. But either option works great.
This step is optional and if you feel that the dough is cool enough to work with then don’t wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate/freeze.
TIP: By chilling the dough, when it comes to cutting your rounds for scrolls or twisting to make babka, you will get a MUCH neater finish.
(11) Once chilled, remove the dough from the fridge or freezer and remove dough from the cling wrap. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out into a rectangle and continue filling and shaping with your choice of ingredients. See below for ideas of shaping.
Once shaped you have the choice of making this a same-day recipe or an over-night recipe. I’ll explain further.
ENRICHED BRIOCHE DOUGH: SAME DAY VERSUS OVERNIGHT
What do I mean by this? The process to make enriched dough is involved. There’s no denying that. The hands on time with the dough is actually quite short, but with the resting times it adds up. So after shaping you can pop the dough in the fridge until the morning so that you don’t need to wait for the second proofing and then the baking time.
Once shaped the enriched brioche dough needs its second rise/proof of 45 minutes in a warm place and covered in cling wrap before baking. Once risen, brush with egg wash if you choose and bake for the recommended time. I love the same-day method if I want a freshly baked treat in the afternoon.
If you’d prefer to have freshly baked bread/rolls/babka etc for breakfast then making them overnight is the way forward.
Once you've filled your dough and shaped it according to your recipe then place the shaped dough into it’s baking tray or loaf pan. Cover with cling wrap and pop it into the fridge overnight. This basically slows down the second rise drastically.
The next morning you then need to remove the tray/loaf pan from the fridge and let it come to room temperature for 45 minutes in a warm place to continue its second rise. Once risen, brush with egg wash if you choose and bake for the recommended time.
To egg wash or not to egg wash?
There are a couple of benefits of egg washing your dough prior to baking.
Firstly, by brushing your dough with egg wash, once baked your bread has a beautiful golden brown sheen. It makes it look so appetising!
Secondly, if you want to sprinkle anything on the dough like salt, nuts or pearl sugar, the egg wash acts as an adhesive and will help these add ons not fall off!
What can you make with Brioche Enriched Dough?
This buttery yeasted dough is so incredibly versatile for what it can make. It amazes me that by making up the very same dough you can get vastly different shaped breads! Add various fillings and the world is your oyster!!
I’ve only shared two ways of shaping on my blog so far, but i have a list as long as my arm of what I want to eventually share with you. In the meantime I’ll link through to others who have shared shaping techniques.
Below are ideas of what you can use this dough and how to flavour it.
Brioche Loaf: The most simple use of this dough. This is unadulterated buttery goodness. Slice and eat plain, slather in butter and jam for breakfast or soak in a milk wash and create french toast. Which ever way you choose, you'll recognise the pure joy of enriched dough in this style. Please see steps below to learn how to make your loaf
Plain Rolls: Individual brioche bread rolls that are perfect for burger buns or egg and bacon breakfast buns (just saying!).
Babka: Traditionally filled with cinnamon or chocolate, this is a beautiful braided loaf of bread.
Scrolls: Whether you call these morning buns, sticky buns or scrolls, cinnamon scrolls would be the most well known use of enriched brioche dough. Not long ago I made these divine Rhubarb Scrolls with Crème Fraîche. If you are a rhubarb fan then they are a must!!
Knots: Individual little knots of dough. Gorgeous and perfect for sharing.
Wreath: This looks complicated but actually once you know how...it really isn’t. Last Autumn I made this gorgeous Fig, Caramel and Pecan Babka Wreath . If you follow along my step by step photos in that post, you’ll see how easy it is to make.
Donuts: Yes Donuts. The very same dough!! EEEK. It won’t be long before these land on the blog here. Deep fried, pillowy, light, sweet and buttery, can be filled with a variety of jams or pastry creams... take your pick for your favourite. Mine has to be traditional jam, oh wait, what about salted caramel .... or vanilla custard. Ah so many! My friend Erin from Cloudy Kitchen makes some delicious Roasted Strawberry Donuts. Yum!
This recipe makes enough for:
- x1 large 2lb loaf
- x2 medium 2lb loafs or x2 babka loaves
- x12 scrolls
- x1 babka loaf plus x6 scrolls
- x1 wreath
- x12 donuts
If you find the quantity too much as you don't need 12 scrolls in one go (really?!!), then I suggest making the full batch of dough, dividing it in two after its first chilling time, and freezing half the dough to use at a later stage. In my opinion, it’s quite a process to make the dough so you may as well make the full batch in one go.
How to make a Brioche Loaf
Once your dough has had its first rise and you’ve deflated the dough, there is no need to refrigerate the dough as no special shaping is required. Instead place your dough onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to shape the dough into a rectangle. Cut the dough into five equal pieces. With a rolling pin, flatten each piece.
Roll that flattened piece up from the short end into a log and place seam side down into a greased and lined 2lb loaf pan. Repeat this process with all the dough pieces and line them up sitting snugly next to each other in the loaf pan.
For a same day bake, cover your pan loosely with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
For a next day bake, cover your pan tightly with cling film and refrigerate over night. The next morning remove from the fridge and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Once risen, egg wash the top of the dough and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
Once baked, enjoy plain or with extra butter and jam!
Enriched Brioche Dough
- 10 g active dry yeast, 1 envelope
- 180 ml whole milk, luke-warm
- 50 g caster sugar (superfine)
- 500 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or extract
- 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
- 1 tsp vegetable oil (or canola), for greasing
- Add the yeast, milk, and 1 tablespoon sugar into a small bowl and mix well. Set to one side for 15 minutes until foamy. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the flour, remaining sugar and salt. Quickly mix together.
- Add the foaming yeast mixture, eggs and vanilla bean paste and mix on low for 5 minutes until the dough comes together. Then add the butter gradually, whilst the mixer is running on medium and once incorporated, turn the mixer up and knead for ten minutes. The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl but have formed a ‘tornado’ around the dough hook.
- Tip the dough onto a greased worktop and pull the corners into the centre. Turn over so that the seams are underneath and place the dough ball in a lightly greased bowl and cover with cling film and let rise in a warm place for 1 ½ hour.
- Grease and line a 2lb loaf pan. Once doubled in size, gently punch down the dough and tip out onto a lightly floured benchtop. (There is no need to refrigerate the dough at this point as there is no special cutting needed later on. Using your hands, form dough into a rectangle. Using a sharp knife or pastry scraper, cut the dough into 5 even pieces. Roll out each piece into a rectangle, then from the short end, roll the dough into a log. Place seam side down into your prepared loaf pan. Repeat this process with the other remaining dough pieces and place them side by side sat snugly in the prepared loaf pan.
- Cover the pan loosely with cling wrap (allow room for the dough to expand) and let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 mins or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F, then bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and rest for five minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or let cool completely, slice and toast. Best eaten day it is made.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.