o, I’m not wrong! Yes, I know that the usual phrase is “Let them eat cake”, but the original French phrase is “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, meaning – you guessed it – “Let Them Eat Brioche”. These infamous words were supposedly spoken by the queen of France, Marie-Antoinette, when starving peasants complained that they don’t have any bread. Since brioche is enriched with butter and eggs, this quote reflected the queen’s arrogance and obvious ignorance of the condition among common people. However, there is no evidence that Queen Marie-Antoinette really said that, and there is a theory that the phrase was also attributed to other members of the royal family, but it got stuck on Marie-Antoinette because she was the “last great princess” of Versailles.
What is Brioche?
Brioche [brijɔʃ] is very soft, buttery bread, made of flour, milk or water, eggs, salt, some sugar, yeast and lots of butter. It is usually eaten for breakfast or with afternoon tea. It is neither sweet nor savory, so you can make it to be whatever you want. If you have a sweet tooth, take a brioche and spread on it some jam, chocolate or , and if you are more of a savory fan, you can grill your slice of brioche and enjoy it with a pâté, smoked salmon, or some ham and cheese! Adaptable little rascal, isn’t it?
There are lots of theories about the origin of brioche. According to various sources on the internet the word “brioche” appears in French language around year 1404. However, the name brioche didn’t refer to the same thing that it means today – at first, it was a sort of bread, containing some eggs and butter, and only much later ( in the 17th century ) it evolved in the delicacy that we all know and love today. From the 15th century onwards, the amount of butter in the mixture became the most important thing; it was a matter of prestige. Rich aristocracy was enjoying in brioche made of dough with the 3:2 flour to butter ratio while cheaper 4:1 variety was made for less fortunate commoners. The other theory says that brioche originated in the 16th century in northern French province Normandy, known for exquisite dairy products, especially high-quality butter.
What is Enriched Yeast Dough?
Enriched yeast dough contains more fat, eggs, milk and sugar (or other sweeteners) than lean yeast dough. Fat and sugar interfere with gluten strands, so the crust is softer, and the crumb is tenderer in baked products that contain lots of fat. Too much sugar slows down the yeast activity, so these formulas often contain more yeast than breads. In preparing enriched yeast dough, we use either straight dough method or a sponge method. If you want to learn more, check my post about . Straight dough method is used with recipes in which fat and sugar content isn’t that high. In recipes with extra high sugar and fat content, it is best to use the sponge method. Some enriched doughs – as brioche and baba dough are kneaded before the fat is added so that gluten can develop.
How to make Brioche?
- Place flour, sugar and salt into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with hook attachment.
- Mix water with yeast until it dissolves and add that mixture to the dry ingredients. Add eggs and knead on low speed for 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and very soft.
- Add softened butter gradually and knead until incorporated.
- Wrap the dough in plastic foil, and refrigerate it overnight.
- Take the dough from the refrigerator and shape it in a brioche form while still cold.
- Proof the brioche until it doubles in volume and then brush it with egg wash.
- Bake it at 180°C (350°F) until golden brown – when tapped it should sound hollow.
How to Flavor Brioche
- Before baking, and after applying egg wash, sprinkle your brioche with pearl sugar.
- Add lots of citrus zest and vanilla extract to your brioche dough.
- Add some raisins soaked in rum to your brioche dough before fermentation.
- Chocolate chips are always a good choice! Put them into brioche dough before fermentation.
- Roll out your brioche dough, spread walnut or poppy seed filling and roll.
- Make chocolate brioche! Remove some flour from the recipe, and add cocoa powder instead.
- Roll out your brioche dough, top it with jam or fruit filling and sprinkle with crumble. Bake all together and enjoy your sweet treat.
- Brioche à tête (Brioche with a head), or brioche parisienne is a sort of brioche that should baked in a special mold. The dough is split into two pieces – one very large and one small. The large one is formed into a ball and put in a mold. In the middle, you need to make a deep hole. The small part of the dough is formed into a wedge with a rounded top. The dough wedge is inserted into the whole, and when baked it resembles a little head on top of the big one.
- You can divide the dough into equal parts and roll out a small ball out of each part. Put the balls into a cake mold and the pieces will rise and stick while baking. You will get an interesting loaf.
- Don’t forget the braided brioche! If you have never made a braid before, start with three-part braid, it is exactly like hair braid. And if you like challenges, try to make a braid with 4 or 5 strands.
- You can roll out brioche dough, spread some almond or caramel cream on it and roll it into a log. Cut thick slices and bake.
Well, it is your turn now! Get that stand mixer busy and make a brioche feast for your afternoon tea tomorrow. Who knows, you may even have some leftovers to enjoy with your breakfast the day after… So – to paraphrase Marie-Antoinette – “Let us eat brioche!”
Well, what do you think about this post?
I read and really appreciate all the comments, even though I do not always have the time to respond to each one. So – keep me in the loop and try to create some sweetness every day because – Sweetness is happiness!!