Whenever I substitute milk and eggs for the water in sourdough and add butter, I get richer, softer buns with a more tender crumb. But I didn’t realize until recently that bakers had given bread with these additional ingredients a name: brioche, which is considered French in origin.
Chef Joël Robuchon in Le Grand Larousse Gastronomique explains that brioche is “light and slightly puffy, more or less fine, according to the proportion of butter and eggs.” It is the real butter and egg content that makes this recipe is similar to other highly enriched pastries.
- 1/2 cup active sourdough starter
- 3 cups bread flour
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 cup butter
- 1 rounded Tbl sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg for brushing
- Activate your starter at least four hours before needed.
- Mix everything except for the butter together.
- Set this mixture aside for 30 minutes, then “pester” it with wet hands by digging into one side and pulling it over itself in a fold. Turn the bowl and repeat it three times.
- Pester dough every 30 minutes for a total of three more times.
- Set the dough aside, covered, for 8–12 hours until doubled in bulk (overnight is great)
- After the long ferment, using cold butter, slice off butter curls with a cheese slicer or potato peeler.
- Add these to the dough a curl at a time until well combined in your stand mixer; (otherwise, flatten the dough and cover with butter. Then knead and work it into the dough. When you don’t see or feel lumps, add more butter repeating the process until all the butter has been well incorporated into the dough).
- At room temperature, let the dough rise until nearly doubled, then place it in the refrigerator for two more hours.
- After it is chilled through, dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into twelve equal-sized pieces
- Form the dough pieces into rounds by firmly pressing it into your working surface as you hold your hand in a claw-like move forming a big circle to a smaller one until your hand closes around the ball. (For visual instruction play this video at 6:20)
- Butter a sheet of parchment and place on a cookie sheet.
- Place the rolls to the cookie sheet
- Cover and leave in a warm location until rolls double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 425° (215ºC).
- Brush each roll with beaten egg and a pinch of salt. Make sure that no egg mixture flows onto the parchment.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until inner temperature reaches 200ºF/95ºC.
- To keep the rolls from browning too much, you may have to cover them with aluminum foil or lower the heat.
- Serve the rolls hot from the oven.