Soft and tender, this sourdough brioche bread is so good. Brioche dough is extra enriched, with lots of butter and eggs so the crumb is wonderfully rich and tender.
Once you’ve got the hang of sourdough brioche dough, it can be made into many different things; Think brioche hamburger buns, brioche cinnamon rolls, brioche savoury swirls…
And left over brioche the next day makes AMAZING brioche French toast.
A few weeks ago I put up a sourdough hot cross bun recipe which used a wet dough, but I mixed it by hand. I’ll be doing the same with today’s homemade sourdough brioche.
I want to show it’s possible to make high hydration doughs like this without fancy equipment. However, if you do have a heavy duty bench mixer, by all means use it!
I prepare my starter a little differently for this sourdough brioche dough in the sense that it’s much stiffer than my usual 100% hydration starter. I usually feed equal parts (in weight) of water and flour, but in this case I use half the water.
Stiffer starters are slower to rise than those with a higher hydration. They undertake a slow but steady growth, with less risk of peaking too early.
However the main reason for this stiffer starter is so I could pack more starter into the dough without making it too wet. This brioche is made from a very enriched dough which appreciates a long fermenting time. After a few different tests, I found that the little extra oomph from extra starter won’t go amiss.
Because of this different feeding ratio, I make a separate levain for this dough, at 1:2:1 ratio (1 part starter, 2 parts flour, 1 parts water). This recipe calls for 200g starter but the levain makes a little bit more than that to account for any starter stuck to the bowl that doesn’t make into the dough.
I start my levain in the evening. My kitchen is on the cooler side at night now as we are heading into winter.
Building the Levain
Mix 55g starter with 110g flour and 55g water. Knead it together into a soft dough ball. Place it into a jar or bowl and allow it to rise for 8-10 hours until doubled in size. This will make approximately 220g starter.
If your kitchen is warm overnight (anything above 18°C), you can halve the amount of starter added, to slow the rise overnight. Change the ratios to 1:4:2; eg 30g starter, 120g flour and 60g water. This will make approximately 210g starter.
Sourdough Brioche Dough
The initial dough ball, before the butter, is sticky but fairly firm. Slowly, the butter pieces are worked in and it becomes very sticky and wet. Don’t be tempted to add more flour!
Knead away to create a strong gluten structure, that will turn the shaggy sticky mess into a glossy, elastic ball of dough.
Hand kneading takes a full 15 minutes of kneading. The first part is working in the butter, and then it turns into strength building. I have a video below that shows my process, though it has been sped up.
If you get too tired and need a break, do it! The dough will respond well to a few minutes of relaxation. Take some time, wash the mixing bowl and your hands and come back to the dough.
If you are using a bench mixer, keep it mixing for a minimum of 10 minutes. At the end the dough should be glossy and strong, and be pulled off the dough hook in one smooth motion.
It can seem daunting and like it’s just not coming together, but it will.
Video of the brioche kneading by hand process.
If you can’t view the video here, click this link to watch it on Youtube.
Once the dough has been mixed, place it in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Leave this to proof for around 6 hours at room temperature until doubled in size.
Then, it’s time for a long cold proof. Pop the bowl in the fridge until the next day (between 10-24 hours.)
The Next Day
The next day, the cold dough will be quite firm. All that butter in there has stiffened up. Pull it out of the bowl and onto a clean bench.
I like to divide it into two portions now and make two smaller brioche loaves, in 450g (1lb) tins.
Divide the dough into 2, then roll each piece out into 20cm log, degassing it as you roll. Divide each roll into 8 tight balls. I use a scale for all this so I know each ball is the same size.
Line 2 x 450g (1lb) loaf tins and fit 8 dough balls per tin. They’ll fit snugly in there but with room to expand upwards.
Let the dough rise for anywhere between 4 and 8 hours until just doubled in size. How fast this happens depends on the warmth of your kitchen. Don’t let them go too far or they will over-proof and collapse.
If your kitchen is colder than 23°C, you could create a warm spot such as a lightly preheated, but then turned off oven.
Once risen, pre-heat the oven to 200 °C fan-bake (220°C regular oven) and brush the tops with egg wash.
Bake for 25 minutes until deep golden brown. If it is browning too fast, turn the oven down a bit after the first 15 minutes of baking. However, I think a deeply caramelised exterior adds wonderful flavour.
Once baked, let it cool down if you want to slice it like bread. Or, don’t wait and just rip off pieces! Breaking that cardinal sourdough rule, and eating the bread warm. 😉
Have you made this? Tag me and let me know! @home_grown_happinessnz
Homemade Sourdough Brioche Bread
- 55 grams sourdough starter
- 110 grams flour
- 55 grams water
- 550 grams high-grade flour A strong bread flour with at least 11% protein
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 200 grams levain
- 125 ml milk
- 8 grams salt
- 225 grams room temperature butter, cut into cubes The salt can be increased to 10g if using unsalted butter
- 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water beaten together For the eggwash
The Night Before
- Prepare the stiff levain so you have 200g to use in the morning. Mix 55g starter with 110g flour and 55g water. Knead it together into a soft dough ball. Place it into a jar or bowl and allow it to rise for 8-10 hours until doubled in size. This will make 220g starter. 200g is needed for this dough.See notes in the post for more information.
- In a large bowl, mix togther the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk and starter. Use a fork to combine it at first, then switch to your hands. Knead it into a ball.
- On a clean bench, knead the butter cubes into the dough, a few a time. As the butter starts to incorporate into the dough it will become very very sticky. Keep kneading and slapping the dough down on the bench for at least 15 minutes to develop the glutens in the dough. Keep kneading untl it is soft, smooth and strong. Don't add more flour!*See the video in the post. Alternatively use a bench mixer and mix until the dough is smooth and glossy.
- Place the dough ball into a greased bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Let it proof at room temperature for 4-6 hours until it is about doubled.
- Place the bowl of dough in the fridge overnight.
- Take the bowl of dough out of the fridge and pull it out of the bowl onto a clean bench.
- Divide the dough into 2, then roll each piece out into 20cm log, degassing it as you roll.
- Divide each roll into 8 and roll the pieces into balls. Use a scale for all this so each ball is the same size.
- Line 2x 450g (1lb) loaf tins with baking paper, then arrange 8 dough balls into each tin.
- Let the dough rise for anywhere between 4-8 hours in a warm spot until just doubled in size. A temperature around 23°C is ideal. Don't let them rise more than that or they may over-proof and collapse.
- Once risen, heat the oven to 200 °C fan-bake (220°C regular oven) and brush the tops with egg wash.
- Bake the loaves for around 25 minutes until deep golden brown. If the dough is browning too fast for your liking, turn the oven down after the first 15 minutes of baking.