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you bet your buns

Recipe: brioche

Brioche is my absolute favorite bread. It’s not just because of all that buttery, fluffy deliciousness. The first time I tried a brioche was on my very first “date” with Jeremy. I had asked him if he was free and he said he was. He lied. He skipped math recitation. Jeremy never skips class. Never. We went to the bakery in Old Town Pasadena on a Friday afternoon and shared a brioche. It tasted so heavenly. Or maybe my memories are biased because I was really fond of this shy, polite fellow with a sweet smile. Fast forward to now – in Colorado. It’s hard to find good brioche (one could say the same for finding a good fellow). Sure, they sell it here and there, but it tastes like sawdust and crumbles apart before it reaches your mouth. The only way I could find that butter-rich, delicate brioche was to order it in some restaurants or cafés. It’s about time I remedied the problem. All I really want is the perfect hamburger bun.

The ingredient list is short, but the process is on the long side. It’s worth it, people. We swears it on The Precious. So let’s get to work.

eggs, flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter, milk – that’s it!

mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together

add eggs and milk

mix with the paddle until clumpy, then switch to the dough hook

Honestly, I don’t know how people made brioche before stand mixers existed. Maybe they just had enormous arms from all of the kneading. A stand mixer will make this process so much less painful for you, but you can’t walk away from the mixer while it’s running. Mine had a tendency to walk itself around and I’m sure it would have walked itself off the counter only to bash its brains in if I hadn’t held it in place. There is a lot of mixing and scraping and the motor will get hot. When the dough comes together, start adding the softened butter a little at a time. At first it looks like the butter just spins around and around the dough, but eventually it will smear out and become incorporated into the dough. Have patience and wait to add the next pat of butter only after the previous one has disappeared.

scrape down the sides of the bowl and the dough hook

add butter one pat at a time

half of the butter has been mixed in

knead the dough a few times by hand

Once you mix in the second half of the butter and knead the dough on medium speed for several minutes, the dough will begin to take on that beautiful satiny smooth texture. You’ll know it’s ready when the dough just slaps around the bowl. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand a few times. It will be soft but shouldn’t be too sticky – because of all that butter, it will be greasy to the touch.

add more butter

scrape the sides of the bowl and the hook

when the dough is ready, it should be shiny and smooth

knead by hand for a few strokes

Gently flatten the dough into a circle. Now form that round into a ball by folding its four edges in toward the center as if you were wrapping a package with the brioche. That would be the best wrapping paper ever. Turn the dough over and tuck those little corners that are sticking out under the ball. Then set that ball of dough, smooth-side up, in a bowl that can accommodate twice the size of the dough. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, draft-free location until it is doubled in size. This took about an hour. After the first rise, you’ll knead the dough and form it into a ball again just like you did before, and place it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. This time, you can either let it rise for another hour or you can refrigerate it overnight. The overnight rise develops better flavor and it’s what I opted to do.

folding the four edges in toward the center

setting the dough to rise

doubled in size

kneading again

cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight

Having gone the refrigerated route for the second rise, I let the dough come to room temperature the second day. That took me over two hours, but the house was pretty cold. Once it gets to room temperature, both methods resume the same steps. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, smooth-side down, and flatten it slightly into a circular shape. Fold the edges in like before, and form a ball, but this time cut the ball into equal size pieces. To make buns, I recommend cutting the dough into 12 pieces. I actually cut the dough into 8 pieces, then took 3 of those pieces and cut them in half because I wasn’t sure which size was best for burgers. That left me with 5 large buns and 6 smaller buns.

turn the dough out

form a ball again

cut the dough

they should be equal-sized pieces

Shape the pieces into balls and set them on baking sheets about 2-3 inches apart (I like to line my baking sheets with parchment paper). Cover them with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let them rise until doubled in size. My larger buns (1/8 of the dough) wound up becoming enormous and the smaller ones (1/16 of the dough) were about the size of small burger buns – somewhere in between a standard bun and a slider bun. That’s why I think 1/12 is the perfect size for a proper hamburger bun. Right before baking, brush the tops of the buns with egg wash. Don’t be heavy handed with the egg wash – it merely needs a light coat on top. The egg wash is sticky stuff, so try to only brush the tops and not let any drips cement the bun to the parchment paper or baking sheet. Bake until the buns are deep golden brown on top and the internal temperature reads 190°F. I found 15 minutes to be about the right amount of baking time for my brioche buns.

shape each piece into a ball

let rise

whisk the egg wash

brush the tops before baking

baked to golden brown

fluffy and perfect inside

The smell of brioche emanating from the oven is delightful, but once I had a warm brioche in my hand and I pulled it open to reveal all of those long and beautiful fluffy strands of bread – I knew I had found what I was looking for. Soft, delicate, buttery. It may sound a little crazy to butter the brioche since it has so much butter already, but… it’s EVEN BETTER! The first thing we did was to serve burgers with the buns that had been toasted on a griddle. Incredible. Then we had some as toast with butter and jam. To die for. Next up is a roast beef sandwich. But I’d be perfectly content just eating warm brioche straight up. It is that remarkable. Nothing beats homemade.

if you’re going to brioche a burger, do it right

this is so right

[print recipe]
slightly modified from Fine Cooking

1 lb. 2 oz. (4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 oz. (4 1/2 tsps) active dry yeast
1/2 oz. (2 tsps) table salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
4 oz. (1/2 cup) whole milk, room temperature
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, softened

egg wash
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt

This recipe can be done in one day, but for best flavor, let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator thus making it a two-day affair.

Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add four eggs and the milk to the flour. Mix on low speed to combine. When the dough begins to clump, switch the paddle out for a dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the dough hook down. Mix on medium speed for another 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the dough hook down.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add half (4 oz.) of the butter one piece at a time – allowing the previous piece of butter to incorporate into the dough before adding the next one. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the hook down. Remove the hook from the dough. Knead the dough by hand in the bowl for a few turns to help incorporate the butter -fold it over on itself while kneading. Reattach the dough hook and add the remaining butter a little at a time on medium-low speed. When all of the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the dough hook and resume mixing for another 4 minutes on medium speed until the dough is slapping the sides of the bowl (it will be smooth and silky).

Let the dough rise twice: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand a few times. Slightly flatten the dough into a circle, then fold the top and bottom edges in toward the center. Now fold the left and right sides in toward the center. Turn the dough over so the smooth side is facing up. Tuck the edges under the dough to shape a nice round sphere. Place the dough ball, smooth-side up, in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free location for an hour or until doubled in size. Flip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times by hand. Form a dough ball like you did before (folding the four “edges” in toward the center, turning the dough over, and tucking the corners under to make a ball) and place in the bowl, smooth-side up. Cover with plastic. At this point, you can either let the dough rise for an hour (until doubled in size) or place it in the refrigerator overnight. I opted for overnight as it develops a better flavor.

Shape and proof the dough: If you refrigerated your dough, let it come to room temperature (about 2+ hours). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and form it into a ball (folding the four “edges” in toward the center, turning the dough over, and tucking the corners under to make a ball). To make brioche buns, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. For other shapes (loaves, brioche à tête) please refer to the Fine Cooking recipe. Form each piece of dough into a smooth ball by gently stretching the top of the dough down around to the bottom on all sides. It’s like you’re petting the top of the dough, stroking it down and tucking it under the bottom. Turn 90 degrees and repeat until you have a nice and smooth ball. Set the dough balls on your baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (about an hour).

Bake the brioche buns: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whisk 2 eggs, the egg yolk, and a pinch of salt together in a medium bowl. Lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash, making sure there are no drips that reach the parchment. Bake until the tops are dark golden brown – about 15 minutes. The internal temperature should read 190°F. Let cool on the baking pans or on wire racks for 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, in the refrigerator for a week, or freeze for up to 5 weeks. They reheat well in a moderate oven (325°F) for about 7 minutes. Makes 12 buns.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

tender potato bread (db) the woodward pizza hot buttered pretzels italian sausage pizza monkey bread

22 nibbles at “you bet your buns”

  1. Jasline (Foodie Baker) says:

    This is sooo good. I love brioche and looking at this is making me salivating! I don’t have a stand mixer and I can’t fathom making this by hand, so I’ll have to make do with your photos!

  2. Kristin says:

    We actually had burgers on naan last night, because I couldn’t find good buns. I made a brioche recipe that I’d already tried after your last mention, and the butter! I had to smear it around and help it. The dough ended up taking forever to mix, and didn’t rise as much as it should have. It certainly smelled good while baking though! I will have to give your recipe a go, and let the butter soften even longer before starting. Shy, polite, and smart fellows with sweet smiles are the best for longterm happiness.

  3. Anne says:

    This recipe came at a PERFECT time!!!

    I have been absolutely craving brioche after I had the most wonderful loaf a few weeks ago and I’ve been wanting to make my own! This recipe looks fantastic!!

  4. julia says:

    This left me drooling. Nothing is better than warm, freshly baked carbs :)

  5. Katie says:

    Can this recipe be baked into a loaf? I assume so, but am not gifted with breads. I’d really love to make french toast out of this! Or is that crazy?

  6. Thalia @ butter and brioche says:

    Your brioche looks like perfection. Love it!

  7. Helen says:

    I haven’t made brioche in years. My fave recipe is to roll out the dough, line it with prosciutto, mirepoix, then a boned rack of lamb that has been seared. Roll it up, place in a loaf pan, allow to rise and bake. It looks like you’re serving a loaf of bread, but then you slice it and wow. You’ve inspired me to make it again. You’ sis my fave food blog.

  8. Carla says:

    Check out Cooks Illustrated no knead brioche….it’s amazing and no stand mixer required. I’ve made brioche both ways and both are delicious. Agree about the burger buns….you can never go back to regular after having these!!!

  9. Allie says:

    The story about Jeremy is so sweet. From everything you’ve said about him, I definitely can’t picture him as the skipping-class type! I want this burger like nobody’s business now, too. My diet starts tomorrow…

  10. farmerpam says:

    I’d have to agree with what Julia posted. Nothing tastes as good as warm, freshly baked carbs. I’d put a few extra miles in on my bike to indulge. I think I’ll make these for mothers day, thanks for the idea.

  11. jill says:

    I can smell these…right from the oven. Yummy. Love that you asked Jeremy if he was free, and he skipped a class. Isn’t love just the best!?

  12. Links You Need to Read #41 - says:

    […] got patience and a bit of time, put the stale tasting hamburger buns back on the shelf and try this recipe from Real Butter (p.s. how great is that blog […]

  13. jenyu says:

    Jasline – Apparently, Carla says there is a Cooks Illustrated no knead brioche recipe!

    Kristin – My butter was pretty soft when I added it, and it still took several spins before it eventually incorporated into the dough. It does take forever to mix, too! Ahh, but so worth it.

    Anne – yay!

    Julia – I’m a big fan :)

    Katie – Yes, if you follow the recipe to the “shape the dough” section, I link to the Fine Cooking instructions on how to form a loaf instead. And French toast brioche is THE BOMB!

    Thalia – thank you!

    Helen – wowowowow! That sounds incredible!

    Carla – thanks, I shall look at it!

    Allie – it was a gooooood burger! :)

    farmerpam – ha ha! I hope it turned out!

    jill – yes, yes it is :)

  14. Maureen says:

    Brioche is really a very wonderful bread. It is true that it’s now difficult to find a good brioche. But with your recipe, I guess people can now again have a taste of that buttery, fluffy and soft bread!

  15. megan says:

    Eee! I volunteer at a French restaurant , and they always have brioche on hand to go with their variations of foie gras plates. Looking at your post and pretty pictures reminds me that I have all the ingredients to make it!! I know what I’ll do this weekend :D

  16. Helen Cassidy Page says:

    Hi, Jen, I thought I’d check back in and tell you about my recent experience with your brioche. I had commented about making brioche years ago in my cooking classes and stuffing it with lamb. OMG so good. Well, I found that recipe and I made it in the food processor. My daughter and sil just gave me a new kitchenaid 6 qt lift mixer and the first thing I made was your brioche. I cook at their house once a week in their new fab renovated kitchen.they have a steam oven in addition to every other device you could want in a kitchen, yes a regular restaurant quality stove and oven too, so I made the brioche into hamburger buns and we had the burgers on what we call “steam oven Thursdays” when I try to come up with ideas for the new oven. It’s fab but no recipes to be had. Well, the brioche (I made the dough at home and brought it over to finish rising and bake in the steam oven) was beyond fab and the burgers were, as my daughter said, $25 burgers. the brioche recipe is a keeper. And if you or anyone has recipes for a Wolf steam oven, pass them along.

  17. minik says:

    Wow, everybody’s raving about these brioche buns; and I know why! Just like the comment above me, I’d like to tell you my experience with this recipe too.
    I made these once to use with “fake shack burgers” and they were the bomb! My husband told me to never make another, any other bun but these ones, haha. We stored the rest in the freezer (covered individually in stretch film) and used them up on different weeks (took them out the night before and left in the fridge).
    When we ran out of them I decided to make them but I couldn’t find your recipe, I hadn’t saved it! Sad trombone… Well after weeks of searching I found you again and it was your line about “precious” that made me go, YES! My husband shared my enthusiasm of course! Thank you! Lovely photos by the way <3

  18. Operation Cooking says:

    Hey, hey! We just finished an amazing diiner that was made of your brioche buns and pulled pork with Dr. Pepper. This recipe is just amazing! It was the first time we made brioche buns and everything turned out to be more than perfect. Mine cracked a bit on the top, but I think that with a little more practice, in time, they will turn perfect, just like yours. Thank you!

  19. Shannon Mayfield says:

    I love this recipe! I do not have a stand mixer so I use a hand mixer with dough hooks. I am also able to make 2 full loaves with this recipe!

  20. Sam says:

    Hi! I too wanted to share my experience with this recipe. I didn’t have a big problem incorporating the butter, I just had to scrape the bottom every so often since a small bit of it would get stuck down there and wouldn’t be kneaded with the rest. My butter was super soft so maybe that’s why it wasn’t too bad. I absolutely loved how soft and silky the dough was and that there wasn’t a lot of hand kneading necessary. I let it sit in the fridge overnight and when I was bringing it to room temperature the next day I got impatient. I heated my cast iron skillet slightly and placed my bowl in it to warm. The skillet got too warm though and when I turned the dough out, it had actually cooked a small part of the dough! It wasn’t too bad though and I was able to salvage 99% of the dough. I did knead it a few times because the top was still a little cold and I found it impossible to avoid the egg washing hitting the pan. My bun shapes aren’t perfect but they turned out really well for a first attempt. I will definitly be giving this recipe another try.

  21. Heather M. Whipple says:

    Can I make these into one brioche bread loaf?
    I found a brioche French toast I want to use this
    One for. Please let me know by e-mailing me

  22. jenyu says:

    Heather – In the recipe, I have a link to the original recipe that has instructions for a loaf. (I’ll cc you in email).

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