My fondness for Brioches dates back to my years growing up in Saigon where French Bakeries and Pasry Shops were quite common there. These shops were owned and operated by French people so their products were quite authentic and more importantly they were made with real butter. Fast forward to the late sixties when I went to college for a year in Switzerland where I was really spoiled with an abundance of excellent breads and pastries. Afterwards, I came to the US and was hard pressed to find a true French Baguette let alone a Brioche. However, my yearly trips to Montreal to visit friends would alleviate my craving for Brioches. Gaston Lenotre had a Bakery and Pastry Shop there (since closed) and I would indulge in his wonderful Viennoiseries and Pastries. Several trips to France would further reinforce my love for Brioches. In the late seventies and early eighties, we started to find Brioches in the US but somehow they tasted bland and lean. Even now, I have not been to find a commercial Brioche that tastes like the real thing. About 15 years ago, we invited a French Chef to dinner at our home and the next day, as a thank you, he gave us a Brioche Nanterre (a Brioche Loaf) that he had baked. That was the best Brioche I have ever had, it was light and airy and the buttery richness was unreal. That prompted me to start baking my own Brioche. Over the years I have experimented with various recipes from Lenotre, Jacques Pepin and Michel Roux with relative success. Recently I tried the recipe from Nancy Silverton from the Baking with Julia book and TV series and was very happy with the results.
Last weekend in anticipation of the Holidays, I made a batch of various types of Brioches using NS's formulation with some minor tweakings. I used a total of 6 eggs instead of 5 and I increased the butter amount from 1 1/2 sticks to an 'artery clogging' 2 1/2 sticks. It's the Holidays and I only make them 3 or 4 times a year!
Shaped Brioches ready for proofing
Large Brioche a Tete (Brioche with Head)
Brioche Nanterre, Brioche Mousseline, Medium and Small Brioches a Tete