Soft and fluffy brioche, full of its buttery flavour with just the right hint of sweetness. If you have ever eaten the bagged stuff you can buy from the shops, this brioche is miles apart. Once you try it, I doubt you will ever go back. And although for me brioche is synonymous with sweet pairings, I’d say this particular one lends itself to both sweet as well as savoury accompaniments – imagine it thinly sliced, toasted till golden brown and slathered in rich pâté with just a dollop of caramelised onion jam…
I have been looking at ways of incorporating my sourdough starter into other things rather than just bread that I bake regularly. Me and the starter get on really well now and through patience and stubbornness, I have learnt to listen to my intuition and to follow my instincts. These days I know when it’s ready for baking or when it needs an extra feed without having to rely on other’s instructions. So when I came across a brioche recipe using sourdough starter, with my starter just fed and bubbling away, I decided to have a go. This particular one was inspired by Chad Robertson’s recipe but I have modified the technique slightly and I think it works well.
I love the fact this recipe uses both active sourdough starter as a base of leaven as well as poolish made with yeast and flour. I have blogged about a bread recipe that uses a day old poolish in the past and I have always been a fan of slower, longer fermentation anyway as well as using enriched doughs. Even Mr A was impressed with the brioche’s taste and he is definitely not a brioche fan. The enriched dough is beautifully soft and very forgiving – as long as you manage to keep things cool. It is important that the butter is kept cold and the bulk fermentation (the first rise) also happens at a low temperature. Having a stand mixer also helps to keep things cold. The slow, cool process means the crumb is deliciously soft and full of flavour of butter and the whole loaf is light and fluffy with bronzed glossy crust. Here is the recipe:
- 500 grams of strong white flour
- 12 grams of salt
- 60 grams of sugar
- 10 grams of fast acting yeast
- 4 eggs (250 grams)
- 120 grams of full fat milk
- 150 grams of leaven (see notes below)
- 200 grams of poolish (see notes below)
- 225 grams of unsalted butter. cold
- 1 egg yolk and 2 tbsp of milk for egg wash
To make the leaven, place one tablespoon of your active sourdough starter into a bowl together with 220 grams of plain flour and 220 grams of lukewarm water. Mix well together and allow to rest until bubbly.
To make poolish, place 3 grams of fast acting yeast into a bowl together wit 200 grams of plain flour and 200 grams of lukewarm water. Mix well together and allow to rest until bubbly.
Both are ready when they pass the floating test: drop a small amount of leaven into a glass full of water. If it floats, it’s ready. If it sinks, allow it to rest further and repeat.
Once they are both rearing to go, place all of the ingredients except the butter into a bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook. Mix it on low speed for 5 minutes or so until all the ingredients are combined together. Remove the butter from the fridge, cut it to 1 cm cubes and leave aside.
Let the dough rest for 20 minutes before moving up to medium speed. Knead the dough for 8 minutes until it starts to come away from the sides of the bowl meaning it is now ready for the butter. Drop the butter cubes, one by one into the mixture whilst continuously kneading the dough. Once all the butter has been added in and combined, you should end up with a glossy, soft and pliable dough. Cover it with a cling-film and place it overnight into the fridge. This is the bulk fermentation and it needs to happen somewhere cool and for two hours at the very least. Fridge is perfect as it keeps things cold and makes it easy to shape the dough without too much mess.
Once the dough has doubled in size, transfer it onto a slightly floured surface and shape it into your desired shapes. I have used three loaf tins and shaped each loaf by placing 3 cylinders of dough into each on of them. Make sure your tins are well buttered to stop the brioche from sticking to them. Leave the brioche to rise again, roughly 2 hours in a warm environment. Once it’s all puffed up, it is ready to be glazed and baked.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Brush each loaf with the egg wash and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until well risen and deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and turn out from the tins onto a cooling rack. Leave to cool completely before slicing.
Perfect as part of laid back breakfast with some fresh butter and good coffee. Enjoy x