Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Bit of Brioche--Small Batch Bread Baking

A Bit of Brioche--Small Batch Bread Baking

Yield, 8 - 9 ounces of brioche dough

3 large muffin size rolls


6 cupcake size rolls

Why bake bread in small batches?

  • The fun of baking bread, without a lot of leftovers to tempt you and your waistline.  
  • Great for two-person households. 
  • Less fuss than making a whole batch.  Some recipes can be hand-mixed in a bowl.  Faster measuring.
  • You can start this recipe in the morning, and have fresh bread for dinner.
  • It's possible to bake these in your oven either before, during or after using the oven for something else to save energy. If your toaster oven is large enough, you can probably bake a small batch there (would suggest rotating the pan, as toaster ovens don't have good air circulation).
  • Your kitchen will smell great!

Although many brioche recipes were researched, this recipe was adapted from Peter Reinhart's wonderful book, "The Bread Baker's Apprentice."  There's a larger proportion of egg yolk in my version of this recipe, which makes it much richer.  The final rolls are light, sweet, and buttery.

RECIPE (Step by Step pictures following recipe)


2 TBSP                  Unbleached Bread Flour
1/2 tsp                    instant yeast
2TBSP                   whole milk, lukewarm (90-100 degrees)                   


1 egg + 1 yolk        slightly beaten
13 TBSP                 unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 tsp                  granulated sugar
1/4 tsp                     salt
1/4 Cup                   unsalted butter, room temperature

EGG WASH (Optional)--1 egg + 1 TBSP whisked together

Start by making the sponge:
The sponge for this size recipe is quite small.  You can even mix the sponge in a 2 cup glass measuring cup.  Stir together the flour and the yeast, then add the milk.  Be sure to mix well, so all the flour is added.  Cover the sponge with plastic wrap, and place it in a warm spot for 30 minutes.  I put it in my microwave, with a hot cup of water.  After 30 minutes, the sponge will rise slightly.  It will be bubbly and very sticky.

Make the dough:
Place the egg, yolk, and sponge in the mixing bowl of your stand mixture.  Mix on medium speed for a minute until it's smooth.  I tried using a  hand mixer, but the dough gets very stiff after adding the flour later on.  It was too much for a hand mixer; it began smoking!

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed for about 2 minutes.   The dough will be very stiff.  If you are stronger than I am, you can mix the ingredients by hand to lessen cleanup.  You won't need to knead the dough!

Cover the dough  with plastic wrap, so it doesn't dry out, and let it rest for 5 minutes to let the gluten start to develop.

After 5 minutes, add the butter 1/3 at a time, making sure it gets well incorporated after each addition. The dough will soften up considerably when you add the butter.  You'll probably want to scape down the dough from time to time to make sure everything gets mixed.  Continue mixing for a few minutes more to make sure the dough is very well mixed.  The dough will be soft and sticky.

Place the dough into a wide oiled bowl or onto an greased cookie sheet, turning it to coat the dough. The dough is easier to handle when it is cold, so flatten the dough to help it get colder easily.  Place plastic wrap right onto the dough so that it doesn't develop a skin.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight to firm up. It was much easier removing the dough from the pan that had been refrigerated overnight.  It was less sticky.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and put it on a lightly floured work surface.

For smaller rolls, shape the dough into 6 pieces, about 1 1/2 ounces each. Place them in a cupcake-sized muffin pan (1/2 cup size).  For larger rolls, cut the dough into 3 pieces, and place in larger muffin pans (2/3 cup size).  You will want to fill the cups only half full, to allow for rising.  If you have the petites brioches fluted pans, you can probably make one or two less of the cupcake size to make a tete on each remaining roll.

Let the dough rise for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, about a half hour before baking.  Put a rack in the middle of the oven.

The egg wash is optional.  I did 3 test batches for this recipe.  I didn't use egg wash on the first two batches.  I got a soft crust on top.  When I added egg wash on the third test, I got a crisp crust on the outside.  Both are good; it depends on your preference.  I was going to do a fourth test of turning down to temperature to 375 degrees (the higher temperature to encourage more rise).  However, now we have a lot of tempting bread around the house; it's no longer a small batch!  :)

If you brush with egg wash, cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayefor 15 minutes more.

When you bake the larger rolls, 3 cups will be empty.  Fill the empty cups halfway with water to prevent warping of the pan.

Bake 10-12 minutes, in the center of the oven, until thermometer in center registers 180 degrees.

Remove the rolls as soon as they are done.  Let them cool on a rack for about 20 minutes (if you can wait, LOL)

I hope you enjoy making your rolls, and eating them!  I decided to place all the pictures after the recipe so you can copy the recipe easier.  I'd love to hear your comments!!!



Mixing up the sponge--easy to do in small bowl or measuring cup


A quick way of softening butter--place in bowl of hot water


The sponge gets bubbly and rises some after 30 minutes in a warm spot.


The sponge is very sticky!

The dough is a bit shaggy and sticky after all the mixing is done



1 1/2 ounces looks like this!  Filling the cups halfway full for small rolls
They rise beautifully in 2 hours


Large rolls--makes 3 rolls, three ounces each

The one on the left is baked without egg wash, and longer.  The right one has egg wash

The finished rolls, these are with egg wash
The inside of a roll, egg wash used here--YUM!!!

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post, Judy! This sounds so easy...may give it a try!