Brioche is a French bread that has a flaky, almost pastry-like texture.


What is Brioche?

Brioche is a French bread that is made with large amounts of butter (20-80%) and eggs, giving it a flaky, almost pastry-like texture. Some recipes of Brioche are actually commonly confused with cakes, as was the case with Marie Antoinette’s famous “If they have no bread, then let them eat cake” quote. She originally said, “then let them eat brioche,” but the translators made it “cake”. The recorded history of brioche dates back to 1404 when the word first appeared. It is debated whether the etymology comes from the French words, bris (to break) and hocher (to stir), or if it comes from the fact that the bread was first made in the Brie region in France. Either way, this wonderful bread was perfected in France with the addition of butter to nearly every recipe that helped mask the flavor of the yeast or sourdough starter that is commonly used.

After its origins in France, brioche adaptations were made throughout Europe, and now bakers have literally hundreds of recipes for brioche. Bakers and chefs make sweeter brioches mixing sugar into the dough as well as various fresh or candied fruits and chocolate. Other bakers prefer to make a savory dough, and fill the finished loaf with various meats, especially foie gras. In any case, the bread contains the same basic ingredients, bread flour, butter, egg, yeast or sourdough leavening, milk or cream, water, and salt. Sugar, cheese, and brandy are also commonly added to recipes.

The traditional way to bake brioche is in small fluted rounds with another smaller round of brioche on top. However, today brioche is made into the shapes of cakes, braided, or made into pan loaves. They often make the dough and let it rise at room temperature, then retard it for some amount of time, because cold brioche dough is much easier to work with. They then shape it into their desired form and typically finish the bread with an egg wash. No matter how the baker chooses to shape the product, this bread that borders on being a pastry has a light and fluffy texture that accents both sweet and savory dishes, as well as making a piece of toast to enjoy with a morning meal.