What is brioche?
Brioche is an enriched bread from France, typically eaten for breakfast or dessert, or as a pastry-like snack. Its uniquely rich flavour and fluffy texture come from the addition of eggs and butter to the dough mixture, as well as milk and sugar. This recipe is straightforward, it just requires a little patience while you wait for the yeast to do its good work raising the dough. The resulting bacon and chive buns, loaded with crispy bacon, fried eggs and brown sauce, guarantee a perfect brunch.
How to make brioche
Enriching ingredients: the additional ingredients that make brioche an enriched bread – milk, sugar, eggs and butter – each do different things to the dough. The milk and sugar provide added food for the yeast, super charging it so it can create extra puffy and light bread, as well as a more cake-like texture. The eggs and butter also make the structure of the dough more elastic for a better rise.
Adding the butter: the amount of butter in brioche is a crucial factor in its fantastic flavour, textured crumb and deep caramelisation. Adding it little by little to the dough is important, as adding too much at once will prevent it from fully incorporating, resulting in a greasy dough – the butter will flood out as it bakes and onto the baking sheet, leaving the brioche dry.
The initial mix: it’s important to give the dough a really good mix at every stage. Strong white bread flour contains more gluten than plain flour and, when it is kneaded or mixed, aligns and builds a stronger structure in the dough, trapping the carbon dioxide released by the yeast, giving a better rise. Also, the addition of lots of butter into the mixture means it needs to be combined fully and evenly throughout the dough. And because, in this recipe, bacon and chives are being added, making the dough heavier and potentially preventing rise, it becomes even more important to have a strong dough.
Overnight rest: brioche really benefits from a long, cold overnight prove in the fridge. This lengthy rest develops the flavours over a longer period of time, allowing the yeast to continue breaking down the carbohydrates in the flour, adding carbon dioxide and acids to the dough. These bring a level of flavour complexity, making it even more delicious. It also makes the dough easier to handle for shaping because the butter will have solidified and set.
The second prove: shaping the dough after the overnight prove will knock out a lot of the air but the second prove is where you get that back, ensuring light, airy and puffy buns once baked.
- streaky bacon 8 rashers, finely chopped
- whole milk 100ml
- fast-action dried yeast 7g
- strong white bread flour 500g
- fine sea salt 12g
- caster sugar 40g
- eggs 250g (about 5), plus 1, beaten to glaze
- unsalted butter 250g, cubed and softened
- chives a small bunch, finely chopped
- sesame seeds 1 tbsp
- poppy seeds 1 tbsp
- crispy bacon rashers, brown sauce and fried eggs to serve, if you like
- Kcals 499
- Fat 29.4g
- Saturates 15.9g
- Carbs 42.5g
- Sugars 5g
- Fibre 2g
- Protein 15.1g
- Salt 3g