A rich, buttery delight, brioche is sublime served alone with perhaps a little jam and, in the French manner, a steaming bowl of cafe au lait. You can make it in loaves or experiment with shapes, baking as large rolls with a top knot, for instance.
INGREDIENTS (for 1 servings):
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour sugar and salt. Make a well in center of the bowl and mix in the eggs and yeast mixture. Beat well until the dough has pulled together, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes.
Flatten the dough and spread it with one third of the butter. Knead this well. Repeat this twice to incorporate the remaining butter. Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes between additions of butter. This process may take 20 minutes or so. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Deflate the dough, cover and refrigerate until completely cool; about 30 minutes. At this point the dough can be left in the refrigerator for up to eight hours, in fact, the longer you leave it, the more workable it becomes.
Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into two equal pieces, form into loaves and place into two lightly greased 9x5 inch loaf pans. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Bake in preheated oven about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the loaves cool in the pans for 10 minutes before moving them to wire racks to completely cool.