Bake this rich, buttery brioche bread (see the picture) for special guests or a family weekend. The leftover slices are wonderful for French toast or bread pudding.
Because of the lengthy kneading process, I recommend a heavy-duty stand mixer for this bread. I have read that it can be done with a hand-held mixer and dough hook, but a stand mixer is perfect for the task.
If you have leftovers, wrap the bread in foil and store in the freezer.
Rich Homemade Brioche Buns
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the yeast with the warm milk and let stand for a few minutes. With the paddle mixer attachment, stir in 1 cup of flour and 1 egg.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and sprinkle 1 cup of flour over the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 25 to 40 minutes, or until the surface of the flour has a cracked appearance.
- Lightly beat the remaining 5 eggs.
- Using the dough hook of your stand mixer, mix in the sugar, salt, the beaten eggs, and the remaining 1 3/4 cups of flour. Mix on low for a minute or two, then turn to medium and continue mixing for about 15 minutes, or until the dough is wrapping itself around the dough hook. Add more flour, a few teaspoons at a time, if needed to coax the dough from the sides of the mixing bowl. The dough should be shiny and a little sticky.
- Turn the mixer down to low and add the butter, 2 or 3 tablespoons at a time. When the butter has all been added, turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for about 3 to 4 more minutes, again adding small amounts of flour as needed to coax the flour from the sides of the mixing bowl. The dough should be smooth and somewhat shiny.
- Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface, knead a few times by hand, and gather it into a ball. Place into a large oiled bowl; turn to grease both sides.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large baking sheet and sprinkle generously with flour. Spread the dough out on the parchment, sprinkle with more flour, and cover with a sheet of parchment and a towel. Place in the refrigerator to rest for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Generously grease 2 large (about 9- x 5- x 3-inch) loaf pans. Shape the chilled dough into two large loaves, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about 1 to 2 hours, or until the dough is about 1/2 to 1 inch above the pans.
- Heat the oven to 375 F.
- Whisk together 1 egg and 2 teaspoons of water. Gently brush the loaves with egg wash.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped. The internal temperature should register about 185 F to 190 F.
- Cool on a rack for about 45 minutes before serving.
- Store brioche wrapped well at room temperature for up to 2 days.
- To freeze, wrap a still-warm or cooled loaf tightly in foil and freeze for up to 4 to 6 weeks.
- To reheat, put in a 325 F oven until the outside is crisp, about 15 minutes for a loaf. Or, wrap a few slices in foil and heat just until warm, about 5 minutes.