Brioche a Tete

  • Serves: Makes about 2 1/4 pounds dough or two, 8-inch or 18, 3 1/2-inch Brioche à Tetes
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Variations: Brioche au Sucre: Two Brioche Loaves

Brioche is an elegant yeast  dough, a cross between bread and pastry. It is rich with butter and eggs and just a little sweet. In France, Brioche is baked in several forms, the Parisienne, or tete, such as this recipe, and the Nanterre, or Basic and Easy Brioche Loaf. The classic top-knotted shape, Brioche à tête is the most popular presentation. They rise in fluted tins, with a large ball of dough placed on the bottom, topped with a ball of dough 1/3 that weight to form the head (tête). The soft, golden loaves are sliced for breakfast or made into rich French toast, or even toasted and served as a dessert with Banana Schmutz and Creme Chantilly.

In this version, the brioche is made with an easy-to-make sponge starter, which I find gives the bread deep flavor and better texture. (Others, such as the Brioche a Tete from Panettone Dough, can be made with a Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter.) You'll notice that the sponge instructions call for adding the dry yeast without a presoak in warm water to dissolve it. This is an unusual technique, one more commonly associated with the use of fresh yeast, but it works well here. I like to use more egg yolks instead of whole eggs in the recipe for a richer taste and deeper color, so note my recipe variation, below.

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