Sunday, January 1, 2012

Brioche à Tête

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is Julia Child's famous brioche. There are folks in the food world who believe it to be best of kind. I'm not qualified to make that kind of judgment, but I can tell you it is awfully good. I can also tell you that it is not easy to make and each time I pull it from my oven I vow never again. Then I have a bite and, in the immortal words of Yogi Bera, "it's déjà vu all over again". What sets this apart from most of its counterparts is the length of time the dough is beaten. It is batted about with a dough hook for a full fifteen minutes, and while there are brioche made with greater quantities of eggs and butter, few ever attain the ethereal quality of this one. This brioche is about texture, and, for better or worse, time, cause that's what you need to make it. Fortunately, there is still a short video of Julia and Nancy making the dough for this brioche. I say fortunately because they walk you through the more difficult steps of this recipe. You'll find the video, which is enormously helpful, HERE. If you like to bake and you are up to a challenge, give this recipe a try. You won't be sorry. Here's how Julia's briche is made.

Brioche à Tête...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Julia Child and Nancy Silverton


1/3 cup warm whole milk (100- 110 degrees F)
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs , lightly beaten, room temp
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (approx)
6 ounces unsalted butter , room temperature
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water, for egg wash

1) To make the sponge: Put milk, yeast, egg and 1 cup of flour in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer. Mix ingredients together with a rubber spatula, mixing just until everything is blended. Sprinkle remaining cup of flour over sponge, completely covering it. Set sponge aside to rest uncovered for 30-40 minutes. After this resting time, flour coating will crack. That's as it should be.

2) To make dough: Add sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of flour to sponge. Set bowl in mixer, attach dough hook, and mix on low speed for a minute or two, just until ingredients look as if they are about to come together. With mixer still running, sprinkle in 1/2 cup more flour. When flour is incorporated, increase mixer speed to medium and beat for about 15 minutes, stopping to scrape down hook and bowl as needed. During this mixing period, dough should come together, wrap itself around hook and slap sides of bowl. In order to incorporate butter into dough, it must be worked with a scraper or rolling pin until its consistency is like that of dough (You can bash butter into submission with a rolling pin or give it kinder and gentler handling by using a dough scraper to smear it bit by bit across a smooth work surface). When it is ready, butter will be smooth, soft, and still cool - not warm, oily or greasy. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Do not be alarmed at appearance of dough. It will start to fall apart and that is normal. Continue adding butter. When all of it has been added, raise mixer speed to medium-high for a minute, then reduce speed to medium and beat dough for about 5 minutes, or until you once again hear the dough slapping against the sides of the bowl. Clean sides of bowl frequently as you work; if it looks as though dough is not coming together after 2-3 minutes, add up to 1 tablespoon more flour. When you're finished, dough should feel somewhat cool. It will be soft and still sticky and may cling slightly to sides and bottom of bowl.

3) To finish dough: For first rise, transfer dough to a very large buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2- 2 1/2 hours. For second rise and chill, deflate dough by placing your fingers under it, lifting a section of dough, and then letting it fall back into bowl. Work your way around circumference of dough, lifting and releasing. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough overnight, or for at least 4-6 hours, during which time it will continue to rise and may double in size again. AFTER THIS LONG CHILL,DOUGH IS READY TO USE IN ANY BRIOCHE RECIPE.

4) To shape: Butter 3 large fluted brioche pans, using a pastry brush to make certain
you get into flutes; set aside. Divide dough into thirds. Keep remaining dough covered and refrigerated while you work with one piece at a time. Put one piece of
dough on a lightly floured work surface and, using your dough scraper, cut off a hunk of dough that is scant one third of piece. Work larger piece of dough gently and quickly into a smooth ball. between your hands and against the work surface to form a smooth ball. Place ball into buttered mold. Roll smaller piece of dough into a pear shape. Use fingers to make a depression in center of dough and fit narrow top of pear-shaped piece into depression. Pinch and press dough together as needed to make certain that seam between large and small pieces of dough is sealed. Repeat with the remaining dough.

5) Final Rise: Cover pans with a piece of buttered plastic wrap and allow dough
to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

6) Baking Têtes: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly brush brioche with egg wash, taking care not to let the glaze dribble into the mold (it will impair
the dough’s rise in oven). Working quickly, use ends of a pair of sharp scissors to snip 2 or 3 slits in each larger ball of dough. Bake the brioche for about 30 minutes, or until they are deeply golden. Cool to room temperature on a rack. Yield: 3 Tetes.

Cook's Notes: If you are not going to use or bake the dough after it's second rise, deflate it, wrap it airtight, and store it in freezer. The dough can remain frozen for up to a month. Thaw the dough, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight and use it directly from the refrigerator.

This post is being linked to:
Foodie Friday

One Year Ago Today: 2010-Year End Round-Up

Two Years Ago Today: Guinness Bloody Mary


Coleens Recipes said...

I've always wanted to try this. I'm on the hunt for mini brioche pans. Wish me luck.

Kavi said...

looks great. although its the dough making that scares me! Happy new year
(Edible Entertainment)

Alicia Foodycat said...

It looks just divine, but I think this is one that will have to wait until I have a Kitchen Aid. Without a dough-hook this sounds like too much work!

Receitas para a Felicidade said...

Happy New Year dear Mary

Kisses and blessings!!

Lynn said...

Happy New Year Mary! Interesting to start the year out with such a challenging recipe:@)

giorno26 ¸¸.•*¨*•. said...

Happy new days.
Happy new dreams.
Happy New Year 2012 :))

Alessandra said...

Ciao Mary,

I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and all the best for you and your family in 2012.

And I look forward to another year of reading your posts!


What's Baking?? said...

Hats off to you, Mary..perfectly done. Happy New Year!

Rita said...

Always wanted to try making these; maybe this year.
Wishing you all the best for 2012,

Alan Tyson-Carter said...

I enjoy reading your blog and your recipes always look and sound fantastic, but as an Englishman living in Germany I am always put off by American recipes which talk about Fahrenheit and Cups, for it means I have to go and look up what all that means in Centigrade and grams. I dare say for many people this is no bother but I find it all tedious for I can never remember in which of my many cookbooks the conversion chart is!

Jeannie said...

Your brioche are so beautiful! I am sure they taste as good as they look! Happy New Year to you Mary:)

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I admire your ability to make such a beautiful bread. Julia would be proud.

Happy new year to you and your family Mary.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

You know how I feel about bread baking (I've got dough rising right now to welcome the New Year!). I've had great results with brioche in bread class, but never at home. Your loaf looks heavenly. Perhaps 2012 is the year for me to best the brioche! Happy New Year, Mary!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Very pretty and yummy! Happy New year! ♥

Kim said...

You know I really, really love to bake. And, I never tried Julia's brioche recipe! I think I'm going to try this tomorrow! I'm so trilled. Thank you for sharing!

Kris said...

Looks wonderful!


I've made brioche before, but I do want to try Julia's. Happy New Year and many great recipes for 2012!! Thank you for all the ones you shared with us in 2011.

Joyti said...

Those look so delicious. Yum!

Joanne said...

To be honest, if I'm making brioche, I think Julia is a fabulous authority. That is so gorgeous!

Unknown said...


a very happy new year to you and family

sonia said...

Looks amazing! Off to buy a brioche pan!

Claudia said...

I am saving this for a cold winter's day when I have self-confidence. I have never made brioche and Julia seems the logical place to start. It's all about the texture. And a winning way to ring in the new.

Tracy's Living Cookbook said...

How I want a brioche pan! NOW! Well, my birthday is in March, so I can start dreaming of these coming out of my oven now.

mia maria said...

Wishing you a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!

Leslie said...

Now I suppose I need to go by a Brioche pan....THANKS!

Buttercup said...

A little complex for me, but I will dream of a trip to Paris, or at least a good French bakery. Wishes for a happy and healthy year to you. So enjoyed your blog in 2011.

Amalia said...

This looks so beautiful, a real showstopper! I really want to give it a give, even though it looks really intimidating. But like you said, once you try something that takes that long to make, it's usually amazing! Thanks for the challenge, Happy New Year :)

Jackie said...

This looks delicious. I may get brave enough to give it a try. Hope you have a Happy New Year.

Jeff @ said...

Happy New Year Mary. This looks very delicious. Thanks for posting a link to the video as well.

Delectably Green said...

As always Mary, simply beautiful. All the very best to you and your family for 2012
Love Mary x

That Girl said...

Such a beautiful rise!

Olive said...

Happy New Year, Mary!! :D

mia xara said...

Happy New Year,Mary,lots of health and happiness!!The brioche looks so amazing in the picture!Although it is time consuming I think it's worth making!Need to buy a brioche pan..Have a great week!

Zee said...

Great work Mary! Perfectly done..
Happy New Year!

Lucia from Madison said...

Now that looks good!
Happy New Year!

lena said...

this is really impressive, looks so golden! nice pic too!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Happy New Year Mary - your brioche looks delectable!

Jamie said...

I love making bread but there has always been something daunting and scary about brioche! Yours is absolutely gorgeous and perfect! Thanks for the link to the video - I will definitely watch it!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I have always wanted to try brioche, but it's intimidating. I think I need to just bite the bullet and do it. It sounds so very good.

2 Kids and Tired Cooks

Javelin Warrior said...

Thank you so much for sharing! This brioche is amazing and I’ve been inspired to feature it in my Friday Food Fetish roundup. If you have any objections, please let me know. Moar, moar, MOAR please :)

Jayanthy Kumaran said...

ohhhh now...those look great dear..
proud following you..:)
check out mine sometime..
Tasty Appetite

Anonymous said...

Made brioche for Thanksgiving and referenced your recipe to help guide me through the process. I ended up making a total of 3 recipes, but didn't have the pans so I just used mini muffins. Unfortunately, my first batch was overcooked. The 2nd and 3rd batches were successful and those each had different flavors, thyme garlic gruyere and rosemary garlic parmasean. Those were PERFECT and I made made a little roll and put them into a mini muffin pan. The best flavor is straight out of the oven...will definitely be keeping this for future use. Next step, making a chocolate brioche.

8 years later and this is still post relevant and helpful. Thank You!

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