December 21, 2011

Brioche made with Beurre Noisette

Whilst gallivanting around the streets of Toronto, trying to take in as many mouth watering treats my tiny stomach could hold, I had the fortunate pleasure to end a wonderful Sunday morning with brunch at School. A few friends and I, friends who clearly understand my palate, pushed and squeezed our way through a never-ending line, only to meet a bright-eyed waitress wearing a catholic school girls outfit, which was clearly and intentionally 2 sizes too small. The waitress licked her finger, flipped over not one but two pages on her notepad, and put our name at the very bottom of the list, right below Cindy Loo party of 10.

As we waited outside, the sharp frigid breeze blew our hair in every which direction. Tiny beads of ice cold water started to drip from the sky, as we stood in a circle huddled for warmth, we weren't alone in this quest for delicious breakfast. As we stood outside the restaurant, huddled beneath the awning like a crowd of smoking teenagers, I thought to myself, this place must be amazing.

An hour later, 10 frozen toes, and a hunger that was getting the best of me, I finally heard a faint noise that sounded like my name. It was me. It was my name. Heather, Heather Hands, Heather Hands party of three.

By this time I was so hungry the menu looked daunting. I wanted everything, macadamia banana pancakes with whipped brown sugar butter and maple syrup, Parmesan asparagus omelet with cracked pepper, home fries and greens, but I finally settled on super cheesy french toast with maple syrup and greens.  

This french toast was the epitome of all french toasts. It was light and fluffy. Sweet and savory. Soft, cheesy, and crispy on the outside. It was made extra fancy and delicious by using a wonderfully light and fluffy brioche bread. If you, like me, are unfamiliar with brioche, you must try. It is a French pastry, made in the same matter as regular yeast bread, but with a higher butter and egg ratio, giving it a rich and tender crumb. I am usually not a big fan of french toast, but this was perfect. I loved it so much, I came home and made a few brioche loaves myself. 

I found a recipe from an appetizing blog, Clockwork Lemon, whose recipe called for the addition of buerre noisette (brown butter), which is simply, butter that has been cooked until brown. If you are making a more traditional brioche, the recipe will call for the addition of regular unsalted butter instead of buerre noisette. I am glad I went with the more non-traditional route, if only but to smell the wonderful nutty flavors that filled the house, once my butter turned a gorgeous hazelnut color.

Once the loaf came out of the oven, I ate one with a little jam, a sprinkle of icing sugar, and topped with orange zest and saved the others for cheesy french toast. Don't fret, recipe coming soon.

{recipe adapted from Clockwork Lemon}

Prep Time: 3 - 4 hours rising + 12 hours overnight + 1 hour mixing, kneading and rolling

Cooking Time: 30 - 40 minutes per loaf

1/2 cup unbleached bread flour
2 1/4 tsp or one pack of instant yeast
1/2 cup whole milk, lukewarm
1 cup butter, unsalted, cut into small pieces
5 large eggs
3 cups unbleached bread flour
2 tbsp white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg + 1 tsp water for brushing


1. In a stand mixer bowl, add 1/2 cup flour, instant yeast, warm milk, and stir. Cover with Saran wrap and set to the side in a warm area free from draft, and let rise for 40 minutes. The sponge is ready when it collapses when touched.

2. While the sponge is rising, heat a thick bottomed skillet on medium heat. Add the butter pieces, whisking frequently. Once the butter has melted it will start too foam. After a few minutes the amount of foam produced, will start to decrease. Small brown flecks (milk solids) will start to form at the bottom of the pan. The butter should now have a beautiful nutty aroma. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and place in the fridge to cool down and firm up slightly. Once cooled, it should have the consistency of butter at room temperature.

3. With the paddle attachment add the eggs one by one to the sponge, and mix on medium heat until combined.

4. In a separate bowl, mix 3 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Slowly add the flour to the egg mixture until it's all incorporated, scraping down the bowl periodically (2 - 3 minutes).

5. On medium speed, start to add the butter one tbsp at a time, allowing each tbsp to be fully incorporated before adding the next. Once the butter had been worked in, switch to the dough hook and knead for 6 minutes, until the dough has become smooth, soft, shiny, and elastic.

6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough a couple of times into the shape of a ball, by folding each side in (3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock) and then pinch the top. Turn the dough over, smooth side face up. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with Saran wrap. Let the dough double in size for one hour in a warm area.  Punch down the dough, remove it form the bowl, and repeat the same process shaping into a ball. Place the dough back into the bowl, let it rise for another hour or place it in the fridge overnight for the best flavors. If you refrigerate overnight, let the dough warm for a couple of hours the next morning before using.

7. Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle. Fold the long sides in, and then roll into a log. Place the dough into an oiled bread pan. Spray the top of the loaf with oil and gently cover with Saran wrap or a damp close. Place the pans in a warm area to rise. The dough should fill the pan when risen, approximately 1.5 - 3 hours depending on the temperature of your house. If you don't have 3 bread pans, you will need to rise and bake the dough one at a time. Alternatively, you can preheat the oven to 180 F. Turn it off, then put the bread in the oven for 30 - 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

8. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Whisk the egg with 1 tsp of water, and brush the top of the loaf. Place it into the oven on the middle wrack and bake for 30 - 40 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and feel hollow when tapped, also the internal temperature of the bread should be 190 F. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then remove. Slice and serve warm.


  1. Great story, I adore brunch. The bread looks fabulous.

  2. This is absolutely my FAV type of bread! Also, as a lover of butter, any way for me to get more of it in my bread is a plus! Great post :)

  3. It's so pretty! Almost too pretty to eat! :) I have never made or even tasted brioche. Can you believe it? Thanks for the recipe!

  4. I have never met a bread I didn't like and this one looks amazing! and home made bread is better than dessert. I'm thinking I'll have to try this out one of these cold days and be a hero.