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BRIOCHE BREAD
150 ml milk or water, or ½ milk and ½ water
25 - 30 g fresh yeast
4 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
570 g flour
100 g unsalted butter
1 tsp salt

Well in advance, bring the butter to room temperature and cut it in small cubes. Mix the yeast thoroughly with cold milk or/and water. Lightly whisk together the eggs. Reserve a little egg for glazing. Whisk the eggs and the sugar until foamy, add the yeast liquid and the flour.

Knead the dough with a heavy-duty tabletop mixer fitted with a dough hook for about 5 minutes, or until the dough forms a ball around the hook. Let the dough rest for a while. Then add the soft butter and knead for another 5 - 8 minutes, or until the butter is well incorporated and the dough forms an elastic ball.

Do not worry if the dough first after adding the butter seems very sticky and unmanageable, just keep on kneading and it will eventually be non-sticky and easy to handle.

Add the salt and knead for another 2 minutes. Now the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large buttered bowl, cover tightly with buttered plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, for about 1½ hours.

Turn the dough onto work surface and knead it for a while. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let rise for ½ - 1½ hours more.

Divide the dough in two equal parts. Roll both the parts out into flat, round disks and roll them up, like in making a jelly roll. Fold the ends of the rolls underneath them and place the rolls in two buttered, deep rectangular loaf pans (about 22 cm × 12 cm × 7 cm in size).

Cover the pans with a damp towel and let the dough rise for 50 - 55 minutes. Brush the surface with egg and bake at 200 °C for 25 - 30 minutes. Turn the loaves out on a wire rack to cool, loosely covered with a towel.

Serve the brioche bread warm for breakfast, sliced and topped with butter, jam, jelly, honey, cream cheese spread, fresh fruit etc and as a toast on the next day. Also, dry brioche bread makes wonderful poor knights (French toast).
Makes two loaves.

Additional information:
Stuffed brioche bread can be made by spreading some filling on the brioche disks before rolling them up.

For savoury filling:
1. grated, sharp cheese (eg Gruyère, emmental, cheddar...)
2. spreadable cream cheese mixed with chopped fresh herbs and/or garlic
3. chopped olives and/or sun-dried tomatoes
4. chopped mixed nuts
etc
For sweet filling:
1. grated semi-sweet dark chocolate
2. jam or marmalade
3. chopped candied or dried fruit
4. almond paste or almond cream
5. chopped nuts mixed with brown sugar
6. raisins mixed with brown sugar and cinnamon
etc

You may also bake this dough in small, individual brioche or muffin moulds: form the dough into balls and place in buttered moulds (and top with a smaller ball, if you like). Let rise, brush with egg and bake at 225 °C for 10 - 12 minutes.


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