Brioche à Tête (French fluted bread “with a head”)
Makes two 8-inch loaves or 12 small buns. Adapted from a Le Cordon Bleu recipe by Cynthia L. Nobles, who said, “I learned to make this elegant, buttery bread when I took a boulangerie (rolled bread) course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Our finger-wagging teacher warned that if the kitchen gets hotter than 75 F, the butter will melt and c’est finis, it’s finished! The dough requires two risings, including one overnight, so start the afternoon before.”
1 tbl. dry yeast
2/3 cup lukewarm whole milk
2 tbls. sugar
3 cups bread flour
5 eggs, room temperature (plus 1 for egg wash)
11/2 tsps. salt
14 tbls. unsalted butter, room temperature
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine yeast, milk and sugar. Allow to stand 5 minutes.
2. Add flour, 5 eggs and salt, and beat with the flat paddle attachment on medium speed 2 minutes.
3. Add butter and beat on medium speed 10 minutes. The dough will be extremely soft and slightly sticky. (Don’t be tempted to add more flour.)
4. Place dough in a large buttered bowl and cover top completely with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature 2 hours.
5. Punch dough down, put back in bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
6. Spray two 8-inch fluted brioche molds with cooking spray. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. From each piece of dough, pinch off a piece of dough the size of a golf ball and roll until smooth and round. Roll larger dough pieces into balls, and place in molds. With your thumbs, in the top center of each large piece of dough make an indentation the width and half the depth of the smaller dough balls. Push the smaller balls into the indentations in the larger dough balls.
7. Make an egg wash by beating remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush on top of dough. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 to 11/2 hours.
8. Preheat oven to 400 F. With a sharp pair of scissors, cut slits in the dough along the seam where the smaller dough ball meets the larger one. (This helps the dough cook evenly). Brush with egg wash again and bake until deep golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Unmold immediately and serve warm.