My How To Make Enriched Brioche Bread Guide debunks myths that making enriched dough is hard! This bread is super light, rich, and buttery, making it perfect for toasting, for sandwiches or jazzed up into french toast. My guide, packed full of process shots, takes you step-by-step into making this divine dough and baking it into a magnificent loaf of brioche bread. Happy baking, friends!
Enriched brioche bread has been a long-standing favourite bread in my household. Until a couple of years ago, though, I'd placed in the ‘too hard basket' of items to bake, thinking that it was overly complicated and above my skill. 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 brioche 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 is Enriched Brioche Dough?
Unlike bread doughs that consist of flour, water, yeast and salt (we call these lean doughs), enriched dough includes fats, sugar and dairy. And plenty of them! These extra ingredients leave you with a rich, buttery bread with an exceptionally tender crumb. When warm and fresh out of the oven, enriched brioche bread literally melts in your mouth. There’s nothing like it.
Why you'll love this recipe
Basic Ingredients. The ingredients list for this bread comprises of items you’ll have in your pantry. Everyday ingredients for the win.
Damn Tasty. The addition of butter and eggs makes the dough SO rich and buttery. You literally can’t compare the taste to anything else!
Choose your own flavour adventure. Being such a versatile dough, you can use it to make different styles of bread. With each of these, you can add different fillings such as jams, spices, nuts, chocolate, and so much more. Personalise your creation to the max!
As mentioned before, the ingredients needed to make Enriched Brioche Bread are standard ingredients that you'll have in your pantry and fridge. Let's chat about what you'll need.
- Yeast: I use active dry yeast, which means that before 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 for the home baker, it's harder to come by.
- 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 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, otherwise it will taste bland.
- Eggs: Acts as a binding agent but also adds flavour and richness.
- Vanilla Bean Paste: I add it to the dough when making 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 necessary addition when making enriched brioche bread as it adds immeasurable flavour and aids in providing that tender crumb. Brioche just isn’t brioche without the butter! Go for unsalted butter as you can control the amount of salt added, plus salted butter contains higher water content than unsalted.
How to make enriched dough
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
So without further ado. Let's get into the step-by-step process of how we make this amazing dough and turn it into incredible Enriched Brioche Bread.
1. Activate the yeast. Add the yeast, warm milk, and one tablespoon of sugar into a bowl. Give it a whisk and set it aside for 15 minutes. This activates the yeast and gets it going from its dormant stage. (Image 1)
The yeast mixture should then be frothy and bubbly. (Image 2) Your yeast is now activated and ready to use. If you find there aren't any bubbles, then the yeast may have expired. This can happen, especially if you use your yeast infrequently.
2. Add dry ingredients and mix. Add flour, remaining sugar, and salt to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. There's no need to sift these ingredients. (Image 3) Quickly mix together. (Image 4)
TIP: Quick way of mixing
I just hold the dough hook and use it to mix the dry ingredients together and then fit it to the stand mixer
3. Add wet ingredients (except the butter). Add the eggs, foaming yeast mixture, and vanilla bean paste into the bowl of the stand mixer (Image 5) and mix on low speed for 5 minutes until the dough starts to come together. (Image 6)
If the dough is struggling to come together and needs a little more moisture, then add one tablespoon of milk extra at a time. I find stopping the stand mixer and adding the extra moisture to the bottom of the bowl to catch any remaining crumbs helps at this point. Then resume mixing.
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. I always use large eggs.
4. Add butter and knead in the mixer. Whilst the mixer is still running at medium speed, add the butter gradually, one knob (tablespoon) at a time (Image 7) and mix until incorporated. Don’t rush this process so the butter can emulsify properly with the dough. (Image 8)
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. (Image 9)
Note: the mixer, especially if you use a kitchen aid, can jump a little at this point. If you are worried, turn the speed down, but the time to knead will take longer. Stay with the mixer the whole time. The movement can wiggle the stand mixer around (true story- I left the room, and the next thing I knew was a crashed stand mixer and bowl on my kitchen floor- it jumped right off!)
The dough should be smooth, shiny, and elastic by now. (Image 10) There's nothing more satisfying than a beautifully kneaded dough. See below for a brilliant trick to determine if the dough is ready.
TIP: Window Paste Test
To check that the dough has developed enough elasticity, perform the windowpane 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. (Image 11)
5. Knead by hand. Tip the dough onto a lightly oiled surface (Image 12). It will look a little dimply and needs an extra touch to make it smooth and into the shape of a ball.
We do this by doing some stretch and folds to the dough. One corner at a time, pull the dough out and fold it over itself and into the middle. (Image 13 & 14)
6. Proof the dough. Turn the dough over so that the fold seams are underneath (Image 15), and you’ll have a lovely smooth dough ball. (There is literally nothing more satisfying!) Lightly grease a bowl (all the way up the sides) and place the dough into the bowl gently. (Image 16)
Cover with cling wrap and let rise for 1.5 hours in a warm place or until doubled in size for the dough's first rise/proof. (Image 17)
NOTE: If the temperature in your kitchen is very warm, then the dough may rise quicker than the 1.5 hours allotted. Equally, if your kitchen is very cold (in winter), then the dough may take longer.
NOTE: The bowl in my image is small. I used it for my photoshoot to capture the difference between the dough before and after rising. Normally I would use a large mixing bowl, and I suggest that you do too.
TIP: Proofing your dough
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 perfectly consistent temperature for the dough to rise.
7. Deflate the dough. Once the dough has risen double or more in size, gently punch down the dough (Image 18) and tip onto a lightly floured surface, and using lightly floured hands, shape into a rectangle. (Image 19)
8. Cut and shape the dough. Cut the dough into five equal pieces. (Image 20) With a rolling pin, roll out one piece of the dough into a flat rectangle. (Image 21)
Starting from the short end, roll the dough up tightly into a log (Image 22) and place seam side down into a greased and lined 2lb loaf pan. (Image 23) Repeat this process with all the dough pieces and line them up sitting snugly next to each other in the loaf pan. (Image 24)
9. Second Proof and bake. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set it aside to proof for the second time.
For a same-day bake: Once covered in plastic wrap, set the pan in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. (Image 25 & 26)
For a next-day bake: Cover your pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next morning remove from the fridge and allow to rise for 45 minutes at room temperature or until the dough has doubled in size. (Image 25 & 26)
TIP: How to know if the dough is proofed enough.
With a lightly floured finger, gently press the dough to form an indent. If the indent stays or springs back a tiny bit, the dough is ready to be baked. If it springs back fully, it needs more time to proof fully.
Once risen, eggwash the top of the dough (more notes on this below) and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. By now, you'll have the scent of your enriched brioche bread wafting through the air! Remove the pan from the oven and cool the loaf in the loaf pan for 15 minutes or so. Then tip the bread out onto a wire rack and cool before slicing.
Benefits of eggwash?
There are a couple of benefits of egg washing your dough before 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!
Recipe pro tips
- Windowpane test. To ensure the dough has been kneaded enough in the mixer and the gluten has been developed enough, the windowpane test is a quick and easy trick!
- Proofing your dough. Depending on the temperature of your home and the season by turning on the light in the oven, you create the perfect ambient temperature for the dough to proof in.
- Check your dough has been proofed sufficiently. Under or over-proofing can ruin all your hard work. Simple push an indent into the dough with your finger and let the results tell
- Eggwash. The trick to getting that shiny golden finish on top of your loaf is to brush it in egg wash before baking.
This buttery, yeasted, enriched 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 shapes of enriched brioche bread! Add various fillings, and the world is your oyster!!
Below are ideas of how to use this dough and how to flavour it.
- 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 with my step-by-step photos in that post, you’ll see how easy it is to make.
- Donuts: Yes, Donuts. The very same dough!! Just like my Blackberry glazed ring donuts. Deep fried, pillowy, light, sweet and buttery, can be filled with various 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!
Frequently asked questions
The process of making the 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.
Same Day: Once shaped, the 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.
Overnight: 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 its 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 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.
The ingredients used in brioche bread make it more special than a standard bread loaf. Rather than just using flour, water, salt, and yeast, brioche included eggs, milk, and butter. It's these extra ingredients that give the bread its signature rich and buttery flavour.
There is no wrong way of eating enriched brioche bread. For breakfast, toast and slather with any jam (my favs are blackberry jam or plum jam), or make French Toast for a lux start to your day. For lunch, use the bread to make your favourite sandwich. For dinner, make delicious croutons for a chicken caesar salad or serve sliced alongside a heartwarming soup. This bread can literally be eaten at any time of day.
Whilst they are both egg-enriched bread, there are a couple of main differences. Challah is associated with many Jewish traditions, whereas Brioche stems from France. Challah also contains oil as its fat, whereas Brioche contains butter and lots of it.
Personally, I would say yes. It is much easier to use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hood to do all the leg work. It's not impossible to make it by hand, it will just take a lot of time and arm muscle to get the dough supple, smooth and with appropriate elasticity. If you do it by hand- let me know!
I’ve given you notes above showing you how to tell if the dough is proofed perfectly or needs more time. But what if you overproof it? How can you tell? When you press your finger in the dough to do your test, if the dough deflates or if the dent remains the same, then the dough is over-proofed. You can also spell the fermentation of the dough - it's not the nicest smell!
I’ve never encountered the problem of over-proofed dough, but the team at Modernist Cuisine state that once you know the dough is over-proofed, then punch it down to deflate and let out all the gas and re-roll and shape as per the recipe. Apparently, this gets you back on track. Let me know how you go if you try this!
This recipe makes enough for:
x1 large 2lb loaf
x2 medium 2lb loafs or x2 babka loaves
x1 babka loaf plus x6 scrolls
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 store and freeze
To store: It's best eaten on the same day at its freshest. But if you don't finish the loaf, then store enriched brioche bread in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or refrigerate for up to one week. Warm slices in the toaster or the loaf in a warm oven for a couple of minutes.
To freeze: Wrap brioche bread tightly in plastic wrap and store it in a freezer-proof container. Freeze for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and ‘refresh’ the bread by warming it in the oven.
Tools you’ll need
- Stand Mixer fitted with the Dough Hook: Using a stand mixer makes the process of kneading the dough simpler and quicker.
- 2 lb loaf pan 23 x 14cm (9 x 5.5-inch): To achieve a large loaf of brioche bread. Alternatively, split the dough in two and bake two small loaves of bread.
More recipes using dough or pastry
If you tried this Enriched Brioche Bread or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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This post was originally published in June 2020 but has been updated with new photos and new content.
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 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or extract
- 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (or canola), for greasing
- Activate the yeast. Add the yeast, milk, and 1 tablespoon sugar into a small bowl and mix well. Set to one side for 15 minutes until foamy.
- Add dry ingredients and mix. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the flour, remaining sugar and salt. Quickly mix together.
- Add wet ingredients (except the butter). Add the foaming yeast mixture, eggs and vanilla bean paste and mix on low for 5 minutes until the dough comes together.
- Add butter and knead in mixer. 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.Tips for doing the windowpane test in step-by-step instructions in blog post.
- Knead by hand. Tip the dough onto a lightly greased worktop and do the stretch and fold method. Pull each corner out and fold it back over itself into the centre.
- Proof the dough. Turn the dough over so that the seams are underneath and place the dough ball in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 ½ hours.Note: if your environment is cold then place bowl in the oven with the light on only. The ambient air temperature created from the light is perfect for the dough to rise in.
- Deflate the dough. 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/shaping needed later on) Using your hands, form dough into a rectangle.
- Cut and shape the dough. Cut the dough into five equal pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out one piece of the dough into a flat rectangle.Starting from the short end, roll the dough up tightly 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.
- Second proof and bake. 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 180°C (350°F), then bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and rest for 15 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.