A plain loaf of brioche is wonderful, but sometimes it's fun to put in a little extra effort to make it extraordinary. The classic braid makes an excellent sliceable loaf with flair, while the star and bouquet options are eager to offer their pull-apart charms to a brunch near you. I know this all looks like a ton of work, but I promise it's not! With these three easy-to-memorize techniques, you'll take your brioche game to a level that'll make even your grandma jealous.
Sure, these loaves are a little more time-consuming than your standard sandwich loaf, but their A+ appearances are well worth the effort. If you think about it, it's a lot like playing with Playdoh — but it tastes better!
Your Basic Brioche Tutorial: How To Make Brioche
1. A Bouquet You Can Eat
The bouquet shape is very flexible. If you want large flowers, roll the dough a little thicker, and then cut out bigger circles. If it's smaller bouquets you're after, bake the dough in muffin tins and give everyone their own special treat.
1. Roll the dough to your desired thickness. For this loaf, I rolled the dough about 1/4-inch thick.
2. Cut as many 3-inch circles out of the dough as you can, and then pull away the excess. Reserve the scraps — you can roll them out again and repeat the process.
3. Select three rounds of dough and place them next to each other. Dip your finger in some water and wet a single line down one side of each piece.
4. Overlap the three rounds so that the wetted edge of the third piece is facing out. Carefully roll the dough into a tube, pressing gently to ensure it's sealed.
5. Using a sharp knife, slice the roll in half. Look at the pretty rosettes you just made!
6. Repeat the process for the remaining rosettes, placing them in a (lined, then oiled) pan as you go. I used a 9-inch pie pan, but you can go bigger or smaller depending on the look you're after. Re-roll scraps, if necessary, to fill space. As an alternative, toss the scraps haphazardly into an oiled loaf pan and allow to rise before baking. It'll be a bit of a shaggy mess, but fortunately, appearance doesn't impact taste!
7. Cover the bouquet loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
8. Gently brush the dough with an egg wash (I mixed 1 egg yolk with just a splash of water). Bake at 350°F for about 30 to 40 minutes, until nicely golden. Sprinkle, if desired, with powdered sugar.
2. A Golden-Brown and Delicious Brioche Star for You
The brioche star is impressive, intricate, and — most importantly — a total breeze to make. Fill it with something classic like butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, or reach for Nutella for a real showstopper. Today, I dug in the fridge for some raspberry preserves — they did not disappoint!
1. Divide your brioche into 4 balls. They don't have to be perfect, so don't break out the scale — just slice it into four pieces and roll each one into a ball. Cover three of them loosely with a damp towel or some plastic wrap, and turn your attention to the fourth one. Roll it out into about a 13-inch circle, rotating the dough as you go. The exact diameter of the circle isn't critical — just know that you have to roll each one to the same size.
2. Transfer your dough to a large piece of parchment, and spread it with your filling of choice. You don't want the layer of filling to be too thick, but make sure you add enough to completely cover the round of dough. Set aside and repeat with two other balls of dough, stacking as you go.
3. For the fourth round of dough, do not top it with filling; just lay it on top of the stack. I used my rolling pin to help move it over.
4. Use a large round pan or dish to serve as a template for trimming your dough. Cut all around the edges and remove the scraps. Don't throw them away, though — toss them into an oiled and lined pan and allow them to rise. You can bake them off for a shaggy but delicious baker's snack!
5. Use a 3-inch cutter to make a slight indentation in the center of your dough, but do not cut through the dough. Instead, use it as a marker to begin cutting petals into the stack. Make four cuts to divide it evenly into four quarters.
6. Then cut the quarters into eighths, and finally the eighths into sixteenths. Mmm ... fractions!
7. Take two petals and, while gently stretching, twist them away from one another twice. Pinch and tuck the ends to seal.
8. Repeat this motion around the circle, and then cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
9. Brush the dough lightly with an egg wash (I mixed 1 egg yolk with just a splash of water). Bake at 350°F for about 30 to 40 minutes, until nicely golden.
3. A Braid for Anyone
Dough is extremely easy — and fun! — to manipulate, but if the other two methods are something you want to work up to, this is a great place to start. I like the braid shape because it looks super fancy, but it's incredibly easy to execute. It also creates a nicely sliceable loaf, making it perfect for decadent sandwiches and toasts.
1. Divide your dough in half. Cover one half for later, and slice the other half into three equal pieces. No need to stress about slicing — the chunks don't need to be perfectly even!
2. Roll each of the three pieces int0 a tube about 12 inches long. On one side, pinch all of the strands together tightly.
3. Begin braiding, bringing the outside strand over the center strand, alternating right to left. When you reach the end of the strands, tightly pinch together the ends to lock the shape into place.
4. Gently transfer the braid to a pain that has been lined with parchment and then oiled. When you place the braid, tuck the ends under to tidy up the shape. Cover the pan loosely with oiled plastic wrap.
5. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough.
6. Let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
7. Brush the risen dough with an egg wash (I used 1 egg yolk mixed with a tiny splash of water). Bake at 350°F for about 30 to 35 minutes, until nicely browned. If you're measuring with a thermometer, aim for 190°F in the center of the loaf.
(Image credits: Kaitlin Flannery)