Bubble-top brioche

Brioche is a decadent bread. It’s a far cry from my usual healthy rye and pumpkin seed breakfast bread (from Paris Berlin bakery at Ellerslie). Brioche is light and buttery, and yes, I spread butter on it. It’s more of a dessert than a bread, and absolutely perfect to serve up for a luxurious morning tea.

I first learnt to make brioche from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking with Julia. It’s my kind of recipe, – bang everything in a mixer and get it to do all the work. It does, however, take time, as the dough needs to rise three times, the second time overnight in the fridge. The bubble-top recipe comes from Ms Greenspan’s Around my French Table. Having individual portions is such bonne idée (a good idea).

Don’t the brioche buns simply invite you to tear them apart and devour them?

This recipe makes enough dough for 24 bubble-top brioche buns. If you only want to make 12, freeze half the dough for up to 1 month.

Sponge:
⅓ cup whole milk, warmed to about 40°C
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
1 large egg
2 cups plain flour

Dough:
⅓ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups plain flour
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature

To glaze:
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tsp cold water

To warm up the milk, put fridge-cold milk in the microwave and zap on high for 20 seconds.

To make the sponge: Set 1 cup of flour aside. Put the rest into the mixer bowl and mix with a spatula. Sprinkle the cup of flour on top, and rest uncovered for about 40 minutes. The surface of the flour will ‘crack’, showing that the yeast has started to work.

Add the sugar, salt, eggs and 1 cup of flour to the sponge. Using the dough hook of the mixer, mix on low for 2 minutes until the mixture comes together. Add the ½ cup flour, and mix until incorporated. Then, turn the speed up to medium and beat for 15 – 20 minutes. The dough will work itself up the hook and slap against the side of the bowl after 7 minutes.

With the mixer at medium-low, add the softened butter, two-tablespoon chunks at a time. The dough will breakdown and come back together. Knead on medium for 5 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky.

Transfer, with a spatula, to a large buttered bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for around 2 ½ hours until doubled in volume.

Deflate, by lifting the side of the dough and letting it fall. Continue around the dough until it has completely deflated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise overnight in the fridge. If you don’t plan on using the dough after this, divide into two portions, wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month, or in the fridge for up to 3 days. If frozen, let it thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

To make the bubble-top buns, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface after the overnight rise. Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin tray with cooking spray. Divide the dough into two portions. Divide one portion into 12 smaller portions. Cut each of the portions into 3 even pieces, and roll into small balls. Place 3 balls into each mold. Place a piece of baking paper to cover the tray, then leave the dough to rise for 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Brush the top with the egg glaze. Bake for 20 minutes until they are deeply golden.

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