My friend Kyle recommended The Bread Baker’s Apprentice to me as a good book if I want to really explore bread-making. I checked it out from the library recently and have been flipping through it. The author spends a great deal of time (aka, 1/3 of the book) on descriptions of techniques and explanation of important terms, which I think is really helpful.

There are a lot of different kinds of breads and I decided I needed to try at least one before I returned the book. I settled on brioche, because I’ve been meaning to make brioche for a long time. The book had 3 versions: Rich Man’s, Middle Class and Poor Man’s Brioche. As you could probably have predicted, the only difference is how much butter and how many eggs were used.

Rich Man’s Brioche called for 4 sticks of butter. FOUR. The idea of eating something that had that much butter in it hurt my stomach a little so I settled on Poor Man’s Brioche.

Everything was easy enough – I made the sponge and then made the dough. I’ve used my KitchenAid every time I’ve made dough and it’s always come out great. The most touching I ever do is a press-test to determine how sticky and smooth it is. It seems like, literally, if I do more than that, the dough freaks out and will not rise.

Cookbooks always stipulate a warm, draft-free place for the dough to rise. No part of my apartment is ever “warm” so lately I’ve taken to turning my oven on to warm, then turning it off and placing the dough in it. The dough, unsurprisingly, rises super fast! That is great news for me!

This dough puffed up like a balloon of buttery floury airy goodness. I separated them into rolls and placed them in pans and baked them. I can’t imagine any way I could make this paragraph so boring, this is the most boring paragraph ever. All I did was say … dough puffed and I baked them. Hooray!

We ate this with Amy’s delicious apple butter. The taste was not as buttery as some brioche I’ve had, which is not surprising, but it was still very good. We ate a good third to half of the batch, making me EXTRA happy I did not use four sticks of butter!! The rest, I’ve turned into bread crumbs and have been using on top of different dishes.

This is a very good recipe! Now that I know it wasnt so bad, I might even try my hand at making Rich Man’s Brioche – but only if other people will help me eat it! 🙂

Poor Man’s Brioche (with modifications for Rich Man’s / Middle Class Brioche)

½ cup unbleached bread flour
2 tsp. instant yeast
½ cup whole milk, lukewarm

4 large eggs, slightly beaten
3-¼ cups unbleached bread flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1-¼ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter

1 egg, whisked until frothy, for egg wash

1- Changes for Rich Man’s Brioche:
– 1 tbsp. instant yeast
– 5 large eggs
– 3-½ cups unbleached bread flour
– 2-½ tbsp. sugar
– 1-½ tsp. salt
– 2 cups butter
– After dough is finished mixing, spread dough into a sheet pan and immediately refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Shape while it is very cold; if it softens or warms up, return to refrigerator to chill.
After shaping, start second proofing.

Ingredient Changes for Middle-Class Brioche:
– 5 large eggs
– 3 cups unbleached bread flour
– 1 cup butter
– Follow instruction for Rich Man’s Brioche.

2- To make the sponge, stir ½ cup bread flour and yeast together in large mixing bowl. Stir in milk until all the flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and allow fermenting for 30 – 45 minutes or until sponge rises and then falls when bowl is tapped.

3- To make the dough, add eggs to the sponge and beat with paddle attachment (or whisk by hand) until smooth. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt. Add to the sponge and eggs and stir until all ingredients are hydrated and evenly distributed. Let mixture rest for 5 minutes.

4- On medium speed with dough hook, gradually work in the butter, about one-quarter at a time, waiting until each addition of butter assimilates before adding more.

5- Continue mixing on low until dough is well mixed and clears the sides of the bowl.

6- Lightly oil a bowl and transfer dough to bowl. Turn to coat and let ferment until dough doubles in size, approx. 90 minutes.

7- Shape the dough into desired container (three 8-½ x 4-½ loaf pans or miniature molds). Mist top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Proof dough again until it nearly fills the molds (approx. 1-½ to 2 hours).
Gently brush with egg wash. Continue proofing for another 15 – 30 minutes.

8- Preheat oven to 400-degrees for miniature brioches, 350-degrees for larger sizes, and place oven rack to the middle shelf.

9- Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes for miniature brioches and 35 – 50 for larger shapes. The bread should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom and be golden brown.

10- Remove brioches from pans as soon as they come out of the oven and cool for at least 20 minutes for small brioches and 1 hour for larger ones before serving.

Servings: Oh, so much.

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