Zen and The Art of Making Brioche

About: lote made the best brioche

There are a lot of different ratios of the ingredients floating around.  I though i would do a spread sheet of them and normalize to 1 cup of flour.
Experiment #2
  • 1 cup (+ 1 cup) sifted wheat Pastry flour from Whole Foods 
  • 2 eggs (1 egg white reserved to glaze muffins prior to baking)
  • 2 tbsp (+ 1 tbsp) refined white sugar
  • 4 tbsp real butter
  • 3 tbsp milk (actually ended up being 1 cup)
  • 1 packet red star active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • pinch of salt
Here are the intended directions:  Soften yeast in water.  Scald milk and add butter, salt and sugar; stir until butter melts.  Cool to lukewarm, then add yeast and eggs.  Beat in flour.  Allow to rise in warm place until doubles in size.  Chill overnight or until ready to use.  Form quickly into small balls and place in greased muffin pans.  Brush tops with egg reserved egg white and let rise until doubled in bulk.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.
Ok here is what i actually did.  Everything went will until the milk curdled, so i threw it out and started over, but i got confused and used 3 quarter cups of milk instead.  I though that adding more milk would mean that it would not curdle, so i added an extra 1/4 cup ... so that makes 1 cup milk.  After stirring in the flour i noticed that it was not nearly dough ... more like soup ... so i stirred in an extra cup.  It was still barley dough when i decided to let it be.  Half way through with the extra stirring i tasted it and though it was a bit bitter, so i stirred in an extra tbsp sugar.  I warmed the oven and placed a wet towl on it.  Giggy! i noticed that the towl was sticking to the dough.  Oh well, we will see if it rises and makes something  resembeling brioche. 

Some pictures here ...

Well here is how they ended up looking. Of course they were flat ... almost hallow in the inside.  They didn't taste bad, though and I could see that the bread was going to be much lighter than the first experiment.  Even Jason considered them "bread" and gobbled up what i left, having sampled so many with butter that i ended up gaining a pound on my diet on a day i was supposed to be fasting.   

Continueing with the Zen of making Brioche, I have to grock the basic situation where, trying to make a small batch scaled on 1 cup flour, yet finding that the 3 tbsp of almost boiling milk will curdle when 4 tbsp of butter are added, caused me to throw it out and redo it, intending to increase the milk ratio by a small amount but using a quarter cup to measure the tablespoons which did in fact allow me to scald milk and melt butter in it without it curdling.  LOL, you say ... me too.  The basic cause was the curdling during the scalding ... followed then by a senior moment. 

Me thinks that more research is needed on how to implement the directions "scald milk and add butter, salt and sugar; stir until butter melts".   It's interesting to note that Emeril's directions (thanks Mark) do not involve scalding milk and he just dissolves the yeast directly in warm milk instead of water ... so is scalding actually even necessary? Here are some more precise directions ...
source: Brioche at allrecipes.com
In a saucepan, heat butter and milk to 120 degrees F-130 degrees F.
... which gives me an excuse to get a kitchen thermometer which i wanted anyway.


  1. brioche
  2. recipes
  3. zen
  4. bread
  5. food


Seth says
M 2009-10-25 17:07:50 12779
M 2009-10-25 17:06:25 12779
Here is the Emeril Legasse recipe I must have watched made on FoodTV.  The yeast & sugar mix in warm water & sit for a while to grow. He uses some flour in the mixture.  The rest gives you some clues as to what the consistency is at various steps.  I used one of Lotus' recipes & got a liquid result until I mixed in more flour.  It finally ended up OK.  Emeril looks to make it raise about 3X.  Leave out the vanilla.

Well his instructions are ...
source: Vanilla Brioche Recipe by Emeril Legasse
"Combine the yeast and [warm] milk in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the yeast. Add 1 cup flour and mix to blend well. Using a knife, scrape the vanilla bean and stir the pulp into the yeast mixture. Let sit at room temperature in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours to allow fermentation."
... so he uses warm milk, not water, to dissolve the yeast, then he lets it ferment with 1 cup of flour.  Sounds like an interesting way to do it ... would certainly solve my curdling problem but doesn't get me my thermometer.   I don't know if it goofs up the Zen of it ...

Seth says
M 2009-10-27 12:14:52 12779
Emeril likes to mix as many ingredients together at once & let the chemistry work. I don't think water or milk makes a difference. You need liquid to absorb the flour & get the yeast working. The gradual kneeding of flour after each raising of whatever is the basic blob is the technique. I may try it soon just for fun.  Sugar makes the yeast multiply. Warmth helps. Too hot milk will kill it. The eggs (yolks) makes it rich & adds fat to the bread which also sticks the flour together.  That's the basic chemistry.

Well i'm basically using the directions from Lotes old cookbook which had me cool the scalded milk to room temperature prior to adding the yeast and stirring in the flour.  Your scan of her directions are a bit sketchy; but they do have you "kneading" in more flour in a separate step, pretty much like Emeril's directions.  Too bad the food channel doesn't publish their videos with their recipes ... i would have loved to watch Emeral do it.

Seth says

Just for the fun of it might be interesting to see if i could make bread from this detailed recipe.

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