Lazy Man's Brioche
In The Bread Baker's Apprentice Peter Reinhart offers up three variations of brioche: Poor Man's Brioche, Middle-Class Brioche, and Rich Man's Brioche, each version getting more full of eggs and butter than the previous.
This weekend I came up with a brioche recipe that I'm extremely happy with. I dubbed it the "Lazy Man's Brioche."
This recipe is based on the brioche recipe from Ciril Hitz's Baking Artisan Bread. I started with Hitz's recipe but then rounded every number and cut every corner I could. The result is perhaps not as authentic as Hitz's recipe but still delicious.
There are two pieces of gear required to keep this recipe lazy: a mixer and a scale. I'm sure you could make the same thing using measuring cups and kneading by hand but that would take work. Using brioche pans or adding little tetes on top of each bun would also be more authentic and attractive, but the goal here was not to be beautiful or complex, just come up with something simple, repeatable, and delicious.
Lazy Man's Brioche
My baking notes
Makes 12 buns
500g bread flour
15g instant yeast
1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
a pinch of salt
a teaspoon water
Add all of the ingredients to your mixer and mix it until the dough becomes silky. This takes a long time, somewhere in the 10-20 minute range (I think I did around 15). If the dough sticks to the sides or the paddle too much, take breaks and scrape the dough back down into the bowl.
When it is well mixed, shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. Degas the dough and allow it to rise a second time, for another hour or so.
Cut the dough into 12 pieces (I used the scale and weighed them out at 3 ounces each). Shape the dough into balls. If you want to fill them, do so here by placing the chocolate chips on them before pinching them closed.
(Those are mini-chocolate chips by the way... the entire bun is only two or three inches across.)
Place the dough balls seam side down in brioche pans or muffin tins. Cover loosely with plastic and allow to rise until doubled in size and well above the pan, approximately 45 minutes.
While they are rising, make the egg wash and preheat the oven to 365.
Brush the brioche gently with egg wash before putting the pans near the middle of the preheated oven. I placed mine on the third shelf down out of four.
Bake the brioche for 10 minutes then rotate the pan. Bake them another 10 minutes or until they appear to be done.
If your pans were greased well, you should be able to shake the brioche out of the pan while they are still hot. Be careful if the eggwash spilled onto the pans though, because the cooked egg will "glue" the brioche into the pans. I had to gently break through the eggwash with a knife before I could get a few of my buns out of the pans.