Updated: Aug 6, 2021
The past year has been quite a journey for me to figure out what I want to do in the long run and what really drives me. It was obviously food — especially baking. But what really piqued my interest was the art of bread-making. I’m still learning the ropes of bread-making, and there are still so many types of bread I have to make! Regardless, I love bread, and I have grown to respect and admire it. A lot of effort and patience goes into making a loaf of bread, and it’s a painstakingly lovable process. Bread isn’t just plain old supermarket white bread; that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Bread is one of the most versatile foods out there, and today I want to talk about one of my favorite types of bread. I want to talk about brioche.
Brioche is a very rich French bread enriched with a lot of butter and eggs. Unlike regular bread, which will usually call for flour, salt, water, and yeast, brioche has the added richness of butter and eggs, sometimes even sugar.
Brioche is super soft, supple, and just melts in your mouth — it’s almost like a pastry, and I swear it smells like a croissant!
Being a baker in India who’s quite active on social media, I have noticed that many people don’t like baking with eggs. It might be for various reasons, but they just don’t like baking with eggs. But that’s no reason one should miss out on something as marvelous as brioche. Therefore, I present to you my recipe for an eggless brioche bread loaf.
What goes into the brioche bread dough?
Like any other bread, brioche calls for all-purpose flour, salt, water, dry yeast, and caster sugar. The two enriching ingredients are softened salted butter and yogurt. Yogurt is the replacement I used for eggs in my version of brioche. The result is damn close to the one made with eggs.
You might have noticed in the pictures that my loaf looks super glossy; it is because I gave it an egg wash. Now, I know this is an eggless recipe, but I just love the look of an egg-washed brioche loaf. You are free to skip it; you’ll still get a delicious loaf. Or, you can use heavy cream to brush your loaf.
How to make and shape the dough?
To start the process of making our eggless brioche dough, we need to bloom the yeast. I’ve used active dry yeast for this recipe; it’s the one that’s most commonly available. Blooming the yeast is just a process where you activate your yeast to get ready for all of the rising and poofing that’s about to happen. To do this, I mix caster sugar with lukewarm water (water that’s between 30°C and 40°C, you shouldn’t feel hot or cold if you dip your finger in it), and then add my yeast to it. I let the mixture sit for a few minutes until it’s foamy on top.
Then I mix the yeast water into my flour and salt, followed by the yogurt. At this point, the dough will look really dry. Do not be tempted to add more water; remember that you’re going to add more moisture to the dough in the form of butter.
I add the butter about a tablespoon at a time while kneading the dough. Once all of the butter has been incorporated, I like to transfer the dough to a clean work surface, set a timer, and knead it for 5 minutes. By the end of the 5 minutes, I am left with a soft and elastic dough. Now, mind you, this is a very sticky dough in the beginning. If you’re not very experienced, I suggest using an electric mixer with hook attachments to knead the dough. You will need to work the dough for less time, and it’s also a less messy process.
Once your dough is kneaded, let it rise in an oiled bowl in a warm spot for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
Now comes the shaping. I divide the dough into 3 equal portions; I form them into balls and then roll them out into logs. I braid the logs together until I have a loaf-like structure that resembles the shape of challah; the ends are then tucked under the loaf. You can see the step-by-step process of braiding the dough in the figure below.
The loaf is placed in a greased loaf pan, which is actually optional; you can just put it on an open baking tray as well. Now, it’s time for the second rise or the proofing. This takes about 45 minutes. You can brush the top of the bread dough with a beaten egg or some heavy cream after proofing. And then, we bake!
What can I make/serve with brioche?
Brioche is actually brilliant on its own. You can also add in chocolate chips or dry fruits while you knead the dough.
But, brioche also makes for a beautiful element of many delicious foods. Some of my personal favorites are french toast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, plain toast with some eggs, and so on.
You can also use the dough to make other desserts like cinnamon rolls or babka. I actually have a recipe for brioche cinnamon rolls that you can check out on my website.
What equipment do I need?
You will need two mixing bowls, one small and one medium, a rubber spatula, and a wire whisk. You’ll also require a separate bowl for the dough to rise in, some plastic wrap, and a kitchen towel.
If you don’t want to knead by hand, you will also need an electric mixer with hook attachments.
Lastly, you’ll need either a 9x5 inch loaf pan or any multipurpose baking tray.
Recipe for Eggless Brioche Bread Loaf
Yields: 480 grams loaf
Time: 2-3 hours
265 grams (2 cups + 1 tablespoon) all-purpose flour
2 grams (½ teaspoon) salt
87 grams (¼ cup + 2 tablespoons) lukewarm water
25 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
5 grams (2 level teaspoons) active dry yeast
75 grams (¼ cup + 1 tablespoon) yogurt
75 grams (⅓ cup) softened butter
Combine the lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the yeast to bloom for 5-10 minutes.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the flour and salt together.
Add the yogurt and bloomed yeast mixture to the flour.
Mix with a spatula, and then continue kneading with your hands.
Once you have a rough dough, start adding the butter 1 tablespoon at a time.
Continue kneading for 5 more minutes after all of the butter has been incorporated.
Once you get a soft and elastic dough, form it into a ball and transfer it into a large oiled bowl.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and then a damp kitchen towel.
Place it in a warm space to double in size for at least an hour.
Punch the risen dough lightly and transfer it to a clean work surface.
Divide the dough into three equal portions weighing 170 grams each.
Roll each portion into a 9-inch log.
Place all three logs next to each other and pinch the tips together on one end.
Start braiding until you reach the other end and pinch it closed. (Refer fig. 6)
Fold the ends under the dough.
Carefully lift and place the dough into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Cover the pan with a damp kitchen towel and allow the dough to proof for 45 minutes. If you don’t have a loaf pan, you can transfer the dough onto a greased baking tray and allow it to proof.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Optional, but you can brush the top of the proofed dough with a beaten egg or heavy cream.
Bake the brioche bread at 190°C for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top.
Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.
You can also let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator; it will take up to 12-18 hours in that case. A cold rise in the fridge will do you good if you plan to make cinnamon rolls or babka with this dough.