Making brioche is a two-day process, but well worth the wait - besides, the stand mixer does the hard part.
Makes 36 individual 3 to 3½-inch brioches, or three 8-inch (about 1 pound) brioches à tête or two 8½x4½x2½-inch loaves
For the Sponge:
½ cup warm whole milk
3 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
To complete the dough:
½ cup granulated sugar
7 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten – at room temperature (but liquid)
1½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 to 3 ¼ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1¼ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoons
2 large eggs, beaten until smooth
No nutrition information available
To make the sponge, place the warm milk, yeast, egg, egg yolk, and 1¾ cups of the flour in the Cuisinart mixing bowl. Insert the flat mixing paddle. Mix until smooth on speed 2, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl and paddle and remove paddle. Cover the batter evenly with the remaining 1¼ cups of flour. Let stand for 30 to 45 minutes; the mixture will rise and cause the flour to appear cracked. This is normal and lets you know that the mixture is “alive.” Insert the dough hook. Add the granulated sugar, eggs, yolks, salt and 1½ cups of the remaining flour to the bowl. Mix on speed 2 for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and dough hook. Sprinkle with 1½ cups more flour and mix on speed 5 for 15 minutes.
After about 7 to 8 minutes of mixing, the dough should come together, wrap itself around the dough hook, and make a "slapping" sound on the sides of the bowl. If after 7 to 8 minutes of mixing the dough is not doing this, add some of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep beating on speed 5, until the dough has been mixing for a full 15 minutes – this will help give the brioche its classic texture.
Reduce the stand mixer to speed 2 and add the room temperature butter about 3 tablespoons at a time, allowing the butter to be incorporated nearly completely after each addition. The dough may appear to "fall apart." After all the butter has been added, increase the stand mixer to speed 9 and mix for 1 minute. Then reduce to speed 5, set the timer and mix for 5 minutes. The dough will once again make the slapping sound on the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a large well-buttered bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 to 2½ hours. When it has risen, deflate by lifting and letting it fall back into the bowl, doing this all around the ball of dough. Cover tightly again with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 to 6 hours, or overnight, to rise again. After the dough has risen and chilled, it is ready to use - shape while chilled for best results.
For individual brioches (may be made in standard cupcake pans): Butter the pans generously. Divide dough into 36 equal pieces. One at a time, pull off a piece of dough about the size of a ½-inch marble from each of the pieces, and shape into a ball; shape the larger piece of dough into a smooth ball and place in the buttered pan. Make an indentation in the center of the large ball with your finger. Place the small ball in the indentation. Repeat until all are done. Cover loosely and let rise until doubled.
Preheat oven to 375°F. When doubled, brush with egg wash – do not let dribble into sides of pan. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes, until they are a rich, deep golden brown, and sound hollow when tapped – baked brioche will register 200°F if tested with an instant-read thermometer. Remove from pan and let cool 10 to 15 minutes on a wire rack before serving, or cool completely to room temperature.
For one-pound brioches, divide dough into 3 equal portions. Place dough in buttered 8" brioche molds. Follow shaping directions as for individual brioche, but smaller ball should be about the size of a golf ball. Follow rising and egg wash instructions. Bake in preheated 375°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool on a wire rack completely before slicing.
For one-pound loaves, divide dough into 3 equal portions. Shape into loaves and place in well-buttered 8 ½"x4 ½"x2½" loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled. Glaze with egg wash. Bake in preheated 375°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes until deep golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Remove from pans. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.