The only brioche recipe you’ll ever need

The only brioche recipe you’ll ever need

Paris Pastry Club
2 large loaves
Helen Cathcart

Brioche is the kind of thing that is best made one early afternoon when the rain forces you inside and the roof of your home feels like the best umbrella in the world.

You could make it by hand as I do. To me, kneading brioche has the soothing effect of a walk in the park with the sound of Japanese music in my ears and blossoms falling on my path. But let’s face it, at times it’s best to let machines do our dirty jobs while we catch up with our lives with a good friend over a cup of tea.


Quantity Ingredient
60g whole milk
2 vanilla pods, seeds
550g plain flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
50g caster sugar
10g fresh yeast, crumbled
6 eggs
325g butter, diced
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash


  1. Mix the milk and vanilla seeds in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. If you have a stand-mixer, fit the dough hook and mix the flour, salt and sugar together on slow speed. Add the yeast. Then pour in the vanilla milk and the eggs.
  3. Switch to medium speed and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough can be stretched without breaking. Scrape the sides of the bowl every now and then to ensure everything is amalgamated.
  4. Alternatively, mix the ingredients by hand then turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough can be stretched without breaking.
  5. Now add the butter, one piece at a time, and when almost all of it is in, increase the speed and knead until smooth (or knead by hand). The dough should stop sticking to the side of the bowl (or work surface) and should be silky and very smooth, although somewhat tacky.
  6. You can chill the dough overnight to make for easier shaping – perfect if you want a coffee/brioche/jam kind of breakfast. Simply transfer to a plastic container, cover the surface with clingfilm and chill in the fridge.
  7. If you are keener on a late afternoon buttery treat, then continue by buttering 2 x 1 litre loaf tins. Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a clean and lightly floured work surface. Divide in half and use your hands to form into smooth balls. Gently roll each into a log the length of your tins and place them inside. With the back of your fingers, press the dough down to form a flat surface. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove somewhere warm for about 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
  9. When the dough has risen, brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg and, using floured scissors, cut a line down the length of each brioche. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each loaf comes out clean. If they start to brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil and continue baking until ready.
  10. If you decide to bake brioche for breakfast the next day, prepare and bake in the same way, but allow the dough longer to prove. You will probably need around 90 minutes for it to double in size.

Testing gluten development

  • A dough has been kneaded enough when you can stretch a walnut-sized piece into a very thin membrane without it tearing apart. This stage of full gluten development is usually reached after 10–15 minutes of kneading. If the dough tears apart when you try and stretch it, simply knead for a couple more minutes before testing it again.

Proving yeasted doughs

  • The best environment to prove a dough is around 25°C and with moist air. A friend, who used to make all the doughs at Pierre Hermé in Paris once told me he would prove his brioche at home in the bathroom after all of his family would have taken their shower. I, on the other hand, like to bring a cup of water to the boil in the microwave, then quickly stick my soon-to-be brioche in. In fact, it may well be the only time I ever use the microwave in our kitchen.
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