Brioche a Tete from Panettone Dough

  • Serves: Makes 12 to 16 petits brioches a tete
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 350
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Food styling and photos by Orange Piggy © Sarah Phillips

Brioche is an elegant yeasted dough, a cross between bread and pastry. It is rich with butter and eggs and just a little sweet. It can be leavened with a quicker sponge starter or with sourdough starter, such as this recipe. In France, Brioche is baked in several forms, the Parrisienne, or tete, and the Nanterre, or loaf. The classic top-knotted shape, Brioche à tête is the most popular presentation.

3 tablespoons sourdough starter (mine is 90% hydration)
1-1/3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

All of the starter:
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened and at room temperature, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

Make the starter:

1. In a mixing bowl, combine all starter ingredients. Stir with a spoon about 2 minutes until well blended. The starter should be dough-like and feel tacky and slightly sticky, but not too dry or too wet. If not, adjust with a few drops of water or a sprinkle of flour as needed. Transfer the starter dough to a lightly floured surface and knead about 30 seconds. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl and let rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours or until double in size.

Make the dough:

1. In a small bowl, combine honey, lukewarm water and yeast together until yeast is dissolved. Cut the starter into small pieces and put the pieces in a bowl of a stand mixer. Then pour the yeast mixture over the starter and stir to soften the starter.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, yolks and vanilla together then add to the starter mixture and stir until incorporated.

3. Add the flour and salt, mix with a paddle attachment on lowest speed for 2-3 minutes. The dough will be batter-like and wet but hold together as a mass. Scrape the bowl as necessary.

4. While mixer is running on lowest speed, add the sugar gradually in 1/2 tablespoon increments. Wait until each addition is absorbed before adding the next addition. Increase to medium low speed for 5 minutes, stopping a few times to scrape the bowl.

5. Switch to dough hook and continue mixing on medium low speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Wait until each addition is incorporated before adding the next. When all of butter has been added, the dough should be soft, shiny and very supple. Don't be tempted to add more flour. Continue mixing on medium speed for another 5 minutes. Now the dough will be stretchable like a strand of taffy.

6. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, dust the dough with flour. Form into a ball with 1 fold. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or until firm to handle.

7. Working quickly, divide into 1 1/2 to 2 ounce pieces, shape into brioche a tete and put the shaped dough into an oiled brioche a tetes molds. (How to shape) Push the tetes well into the main dough, otherwise, it will come off while baking. Place the shaped dough molds on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator for 13 to 15 hours or until risen. The dough won't rise dramatically or double in size but will just puff up so the mold will look fuller.


1. 20 minutes before you wish to bake the dough, position a rack on middle shelf and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and bake it for 14 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Let cool in the molds for 10 minutes then remove bread from the molds and place on wire rack to cool completely. Let it sit for a few hours before serving.

Brioche is best eaten the day they are made.

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