Published March 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.
We’d make this rich, incredibly tender bread a lot more often if we didn’t have to spend 20 minutes kneading in perfectly room-temperature butter.
The average brioche recipe is 50 percent butter, and the high fat content can make the brioche incredibly tender—or it can cause the dough to separate into a greasy mess. Additionally, most recipes call for a painstakingly lengthy and tedious kneading, proofing, and shaping process.
To make tender, plush brioche with butter-rich flavor without all that time-intensive labor.
We used the “no-knead” bread technique first popularized by Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey in The New York Times, which we adapted for our Almost No-Knead Bread (January/ February 2008). Basically, you combine all your ingredients and let the mixture sit for hours. During this long rest, enzymes naturally present in wheat help untangle the wheat proteins that eventually come together to form an organized gluten network.
Still, our loaves remained cottony and open-crumbed—a sure sign that they needed more gluten than our hand-mixed method could provide on its own. Since its protein content is directly related to its ability to form gluten (the more protein it has the more structure it can provide to the dough), it was no shock that brioche made with flour containing the highest amount of protein—bread flour—was the clear winner. We then let the dough sit a little longer.
Lastly, we gave some consideration to the shaping method. Until now, we’d been forming the dough into a single long loaf. We added even more strength and structure to the dough by dividing it in two and shaping each half into a tight, round ball instead. Placed side by side in the pan, the two balls merged during rising and baking to form a single loaf. After letting the dough rounds rest, we patted them flat once more and then reshaped them into tight balls. Finally, we had a reliable and relatively hands-off brioche recipe that could hold its own against those from the best bakeries in town.list of recipes