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Help! Brioche problem

madbakerbakes's picture

Help! Brioche problem

I've been baking with Jane Mason's brioche recipe, of all the ones I've tried, hers works well in a warm humid climate like mine. She is the author of All You Knead is Bread.

Here is the recipe:

250g all purpose white wheat flour

2.5g dry yeast/1.25g instant yeast

15g sugar

50g milk heated to boiling point then cooled to RT

5g salt

2 eggs

125 stick butter RT


The first time I tried this recipe it turned out really great! The smell was amazing the crumb was soft and buttery.

First time was with Elle and Vire salted butter as I had nothing else around. Kneaded everything by hand.

Second time I used unsalted Elle and Vire butter and it turned out really dry. Baking recipes call for unsalted so I thought I'd see. But no butter taste.

I've repeated the recipe using exactly the same everything as the first time and it only keeps getting worse. Third and fourth attempts the brioche tasted really yeasty and acidic. I thought maybe I over proofed it even though I followed recipe down to the letter and proof for 2 hours. 

So next attempt I shortened the time. Still the same. The fifth attempt I changed from Red Star active dry yeast to SAF instant yeast. Yeasty taste is gone, but now it just tastes like flour. Everything else was the same.

Can't seem to figure out what's going wrong. I've tried using my stand mixer, in case my hands were making it too warm and causing the yeast to work too much and cause the acidic taste. But it didn't even come together in my mixer - needed to switch to Bertinet's method of working the dough.

So two problems. Any clue as to what the problem is with taste. Looks wise they all look great.

Second problem, why isn't it working in my mixer? It's on the dough hook during the stages where butter is added. Working the dough for more than 10 mins already on medium speed and nothing. It's just the consistency of cupcake batter. I end up having to work it on the counter with my hands instead.








clazar123's picture

A couple pieces of info caught my eye:

works well in a warm humid climate like mine......even though I followed recipe down to the letter and proof for 2 hours. 

Perhaps the ambient temperature is warmer than the first time you attempted?

2 hour proof may be too long at warmer temps for a sweet dough. (yeasty-acidic taste is a good indicator of overproof)

Chill the butter (or at least have it so it does not "break" into an oily paste) before incorporating.

Do not mix it so long after adding the butter.

Try adding a little more salt or go back to salted butter.The extra salt in the initial attempt may have restrained the yeast just enough in your warm climate to be beneficial.

madbakerbakes's picture

Hi clazar!

On ambient temp: I have a room thermometer and it's been colder lately by 1 degree

2 hour proof - yes i thought so, so I tried 1 hour proof, just enough for the dough to rise from being shaped and coming from the fridge. Still the same. 

Tried going back to the salted butter as well. Exact same everything!

The mystery is nagging at me! I want to get it right but can't seem to figure out what's going wrong.

Thank you will try adding more salt to the recipe + the salted butter to hopefully restrain the yeast, plus mix less


lazybaker's picture

You could add less yeast and allow the dough to ferment in the fridge overnight. Some brioche dough can be really sticky and batter-like, and that's why they're fermented in the fridge so the butter can firm up, making it easier for shaping.  I saw an episode where Jacques Pepin used a food processor to make brioche dough. The dough was really sticky. After mixing it in the food processor, he placed the dough into a bowl covered with plastic wrap and allow the dough to ferment in the fridge.  I saw an episode of no-knead brioche dough from America's Test Kitchen, and they also allow the dough to ferment in the fridge for a long period of time.

I think using the stand mixer is fine even though the dough looks sticky after you mix in the butter. Using the stand mixer is less messy. Just use a spatula to scrape the dough out into a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Then stick the bowl into a fridge. Done without messy hands!

Weekend Bakery has a video of making brioche dough. I believe they also posted a recipe, too.

I know  that in the video they used hands to fold the dough. But I think using a spatula or rubber bench scraper to fold the dough is fine and less messy.

I know the yeasty, alcoholic smell, bitter taste, and gummy texture! I had that happen when I was trying to make bread in really hot weather, 90 F/ 30-something C. I don't know what I was thinking. Anyway, I should have known that baking in hot weather was a bad idea. Ever since then, I vowed never to make bread when it's hot. 

madbakerbakes's picture

I can try adding less yeast. 

Ive tried the Bertinet slapping method to mix brioche dough by hand, and tried the mixer, I don't think the problem lies here, both turn out well after mixing. Though in the stand mixer it is more cakey but it firms up anyway in the fridge overnight. 

Yes perhaps it was the weather and proofing time that was causing the yeasty acidic taste. 


oregoncrepe's picture

We worked through several recipes and finally settled on Peter Reinhart's  "MIddle Class Brioche"  which is also a 50% brioche.  The following production seems to work in a pretty consistent manner, although we are still having some oven spring issues (covered in a separate post).

His instructions (plus some suggestions via Hamelman) call for a sponge of warm milk yeast and flour to sit for about 45 minutes,  then mix all but the butter (should pass the windowpane test) , rest 20-30 minutes,  then add butter (which is softened).  Then mix about 6 minutes more after it is incorporated.  

This is almost a cake batter  - if using pans or baking rings we'll use a spatula to spoon it into the form. If not it goes on an oiled sheet wrapped and into the walking overnight or at least 3-5 hours.  Then proof at 90F until puffy, then bake.  


Hope this helps.Brioche Bun  

madbakerbakes's picture

Yes I actually settled on that recipe as well! And also have the same problems, the brioche doesn't spring up so much in the oven and looks a bit deflated. 

Taste wise it is okay, though I am still trying to replicate the first few batches of brioche I made. 

But mine doesn't brown all over like in your photo and in cookbook photos. Not sure if that's a function of my baking pans... 

It would be nice if they were an even golden brown in the sides and bottoms!


oregoncrepe's picture

The browning is from the oven temp - we bake at 400F.  The oven is preheated.  When I have deflated bread that usually tells me I over proofed the bread.  The picture above is from a bun that was not in the walk-in overnight, but scooped from the mixer into a baking ring and proofed at 90F.  The dough was just over the top of the ring when it went in the oven (After egg washing the top).

Browning is a function of lots of things (search for Maillard Reaction) ,especially oven temp, so you might try turning the oven up and lower the temp during the bake if it gets too dark. 

Also, since you switched from Active Dry to Instant yeast did you adjust the amount of yeast?  This thread may help on that subject:

Good luck.