Brioche is a French enriched bread, meaning it has a large quantity of egg and butter compared to most other breads, which contain neither. It is also made with a small amount of sugar as well as milk or cream. Brioche can be eaten as a snack on its own, but is also often used in bread pudding and French toast because it holds up so well when used in these preparations.
The key to making brioche is working in a cool environment. If your kitchen is too warm, the butter will melt and your bread will not end up with the correct texture.
Brioche is often seen in a loaf or as a roll. The fun thing with brioche is that it can be so versatile. Add some chocolate chips, cinnamon, raisins, bacon and cheese—whatever you like!
I recommend you weigh your ingredients using a simple and inexpensive kitchen scale like we do in the bakery. Those weights are given (in parentheses) as well.
Combine the yeast and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the all-purpose flour over it to cover the top. Leave it alone until cracks start to form in the flour—this tells us the yeast is active.
Add salt, sugar, bread flour and eggs. Mix on medium speed in mixer until the dough wraps around the dough hook, about 10 minutes.
Add half of the softened butter and mix on low speed for 3 minutes.
Add remaining butter and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
Place in a separate bowl, cover and let rise until it doubles in volume. Press out gasses and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Press out gasses. Divide dough with a knife (do not pull or tear) and shape into desired sizes.
Brush with an egg wash* and place in a warm spot to proof until doubles in volume.
Bake at 350° for approximately 30 minutes or until pick comes out clean.
*Egg wash: 1 egg, 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon cream and a pinch of salt, beaten together.