The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


lizz1155's picture


I've had two attempts at making brioche so far (with two different recipes - one from Artisan Breads Everyday, the other the Ottolenghi Cookbook), but both attempts have turned out badly.   Both of the doughs "spread" during proving, resulting in some very flat rolls (and some indistinct knotted rolls).  Also they had a surprisingly greasy texture after they were baked, leaving an oily film on anything they came into contact with (not entirely sure this is normal).  Any advice on where I'm going wrong would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance :)

phxdog's picture


I've found the most success when I've worked with chilled dough in a kitchen that is not too warm (not easy to do in Phoenix). From what I undersstand, colder dough allows the butter to stay in layers rather than blend into the dough and should help you keep thing more light and fluffy.

I even resorted to purchasing a small section of scrap from a guy who installs granite and marble countertops. I think it was a section cut-out for a sink. Anyway, I kept this on a shelf in the fridge where it stayed cold and pulled it out to use as a work surface for brioche, pie crusts and similar stuff.

Have you considered using one of those hollow rolling pins that can be filled with ice water? That might help and is a lot less hassle.


PastryPaul's picture

Sorry, but I am unfamiliar with these recipes, and your issues can come from a few places( no molds, too much grease on molds, dough too wet, and four or five other things). Rather than try to fix all that, here's my recipe for brioche à tête. (Modified for home use, weights are in grams. Most scales can be set to display them instead of ounces. )

Ingredients for 25 units of 50 grams each

  • 13 grams instant yeast
  • 135 grams water (room temp, or very slightly warmer. If it feels warm to the touch it's too hot)
  • 90 grams milk
  • 80 grams sugar (regular granulated is fine)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 625 grams All-purpose flour
  • 8 grams salt
  • 180 grams unsalted butter (soft but not melted - regular butter is fine, french would be more intense but save it for future attempts)
  • Egg wash (one tbs water per egg, beat)


For a first attempt, I would strongly suggest you do not use a mixer. A mixer can very easily overdo it. The following is the method for doing the job by hand. Don't use your mixer until after you are confortable with how the dough looks/feels throughout its stages.

  1. Dump the flour on a fairly large surface, and make a well having a big hole. The flour should look more like a ring rather than a volcano.
  2. In the center of the well, disolve the yeast and sugar in the milk and water
  3. Add eggs to the center of the well and mix
  4. Start mixing around the edges of the flour to gradually bring flour into the mixture. When you have used about half the flour, add the salt (don't forget, LOL I tend to do so,  I keep the salt wrapped in a piece of plastic wrap and hold it in my left hand while I mix with the right. Pretty tough to forget the salt when you're holding on to it!)
  5. Continue mixing around the edges until all the flour has been used up.
  6. Add butter and knead until elastic (This will take about 10 minutes by hand. If the dough sticks, dust your surface with more AP flour but be careful. This dough is pretty sticky. If you add too much flour, you change the recipe and the dough will not be brioche dough)
  7. Place the dough in a large bowl (at least twice, better three times, the size of the dough). Cover securely with plastic wrap. Make the plastic wrap as airtight as you can.
  8. Let rise at room temperature (warmish). This could take an hour or more depending on what room temperature is. You are looking for the dough to double in size.
  9. Once the dough has doubled th efirst fermentation is complete. Punch it down, cover again with plastic wrap (airtight)
  10. Let dough rest for about 30 minutes. Rough rule of thumb: However long it took to double, let it rest half that time but no less than 20 minutes
  11. Punch down again (second fermentation)
  12. Wrap and refrigerate overnight
  13. Divide dough in 50 gram balls, shape and place in lightly greased molds. (keep dough cold)
  14. Proof until doubled
  15. Egg wash and bake at 200C, (390-400F)

FYI Here a link to a great video on how to shape them:  Ciril Hitz also shows some rather untradtional, but yummy topping options.





lizz1155's picture

@ phxdog - thanks for the advice on how to keep the dough cooler :) I think I may have also overworked the dough when shaping it, which I guess warmed the butter up further. Although I live in the UK, with means that the issue of trying to keep the breadmaking environment cool is not usually a problem. (It's a cold summer this year, about 18-20 degrees Celsius typically)  Have you ever tried to do the proofing part of the rising in the refrigerator?  I'm curious as to what would happen, since this may solve the dough-warming issues. Or would the refrigerator be too cold for any rising to occur?

@ PastryPaul - many thanks for the recipe, can't wait to try it :) Luckily I don't own an electric mixer :) You're right, I was attempting to make basic "roll shaped" brioche without any kind of supporting mold, which did seem to be a mistake. (I was decieved by the images of brioche rolls on google; they seemed to be being baked unsupported.  And fairly effortlessly :p)   Slightly surprised that it's an all-purpose flour recipe, since all the other's I've seen are strong-flour based.  But since it's meant to be a very light baked item that probably makes sense.  When you say "keep dough cold" after it's been devided into 50g portions, is that "as cold as possible but not refrigerated" ? i.e "how cold is cold"? :)


PastryPaul's picture

Refrigerate the dough overnight before you try to scale and shape the buggers. At any time the dough starts to drive you crazy, dump it in freezer for 10 minutes or so. Brioche is sort of like puff dough... much easier to work it when it's fridge cold. 

You need cold dough to shape it properly. If it does not stick to your hands or work surface, it's cold enough.

I love phxdog's stone idea. No stone? Put a cutting board in the fridge and roll on that. It won't stay cold as long as a stone, but shaping 25 brioches shouldn't take too long (if it doesn't stay cold/cool long enough, put two cutting boards in the fridge) You have to be able to roll out balls with a smooth skin. If they start sticking to your dusted work surface, either they, or the work surface is too warm

Once the brioches are formed, no need for cold dough since you won't be working it anymore, although it certainly can't hurt

Re AP flour... I find brioche a little tough when made with bread flour or stronger. Personal preference I guess. Besides, I always try new recipes with AP first, no matter what they ask for.  Too many recipes are written with no good reason for specialty flour. If the dough is too soft or hard, I try with another type of flour. If that doesn't cut it, I start mixing types.

Re Rising in the fridge: Dough will indeed rise in a fridge, it just takes longer.

@ phxdog - Great idea using a stone to hold the cold (that sounds cool, pun intended) I do that with chocolate, but it never occurred to me to try it for brioche, but I will next time it's an issue. Might help for puff pastry too in Montreal's hot humid summer

ananda's picture

Hi Paul,

note the OP is from the UK, so you will probably cause confusion offering this advice.

We have Plain or Strong flours at retail level.   The Plain is generally too weak for exclusive use in dough manufacture.

AP does not exist over here, and UK flour generally, is a lot less strong than N. American.



yy's picture

Sounds like you may be underkneading the dough. When brioche is properly kneaded, it shouldn't be greasy at all. Rather, it should feel silky and look entirely smooth - no streaks of butter. It takes quite a while to get to this point. The higher the butter content, the longer this takes. Also, are you mixing to the point where the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (assuming you are using a stand mixer)?

clazar123's picture

I used this recipe from another FreshLoafer to make 12 batches of brioche dough last Christmas holiday. I made a brioche bun for each of my co-workers (about 75) in 3-4 different flavors of dark choclate,white chocolate, orange marmalade and almond/orange paste. I even made chocolate brioche!(The dough is not as nice to work with). I also made several dozen buns for family members and gatherings. Lots of butter! Every batch turned out and was quite delicious. I am exhausted just talking about it. Next year it's biscotti (much easier).

clazar123's picture

I know I have made brioche using some light flavored vegetable oil to replace half the butter. So if recipe calls for 100g butter, I'd do 50g oil and 50 g butter.  Keep everything very well chilled.Mix,chill,keep mixing,chill,knead,chill etc etc. That helps a lot!

This is an adaptation I did to make Pumpkin Brioche:

lizz1155's picture

@ yy - I think you might be right that the dough was underkneaded.  I don't have a stand mixer, so I kinda gave up kneading one it "looked" mixed (approximately 10 minutes).  But I guess brioche is one of those doughs that you've got to keep kneading for 10 minutes or so after they appear combined :)

@Clazar123 - thanks for the recipe :) It's nice to see a recipe that illustrates how sticky the dough is meant to be after it's been shaped :) When you made the brioche from this recipe, did you shape the rolls then drop them into a cupcake tin (as they seem to do in the recipe), or did you try free-form ?  Also, when you substitute butter with a 50:50 oil/butter combination, do you need to reduce the other liquids in the recipe at all to accommodate the liquidity of the oil? :)



lizz1155's picture

@ ananda - I had assumed that AP flour was the same (or at least very similar) to a UK plain flour, thank you for clarifying that they are not interchangeable :)  Does this mean that to approximate something similar to an AP flour I should use a combination of plain and strong bread flour?  Cheers, L

ananda's picture

Lizz, that is your best hope.   It will take some playing around with, and will only approximate.

It depends what you are trying to bake.   Baguettes/ciabatta will take well to a weaker flour, so mixing in some plain is worth trying.   However, I wouldn't offer the same counsel for Brioche, croissants, sweet doughs and chollah, or Vienna-type breads etc.   They need the stronger flour.   Much of the AP flour mentioned within TFL by the US posters has more properties in common with our Strong flour rather than our weak soft flour [Plain].

Best wishes


clazar123's picture

I did,indeed,put the individual brioches in a large muffing timwith a paper liner. Not exactly the look I wanted but it was effective for presentation. The hardest part was getting the filling to seal inside the roll. Brioche dough does not like to seal to itself, due to the high fat content. After doing the inital few dozen, I had no more problems.

I weighed out my dough balls,shaped into balls and allowed them to rest 10 minutes,covered.

Then I flattened them into a disk (about 3 inch),held it in the palm and put about 1 tsp of filling in the middle.

I brought 4 points up  (12-3-6 and 9 o'clock) and pinched tightly.

Then I proceeded to pinch each opening tightly,brought them all together and pinched that tightly and put seam down in the muffin tin. I didn't use any water to seal-that just seemed to make it worse-the dough is not that substantial and seemed to dissolve too easily (sugar?).

 Hard to describe but I got very quick at it.I seem to recall it was similar to how I've seen chinese dim sum/dumplings filled.

The trick is to keep the dough cool. If it got too warm it got oily. Refrigerate for a while or refirgerate (covered) the dough you aren't working with.