Who doesn’t love a brioche? Rich, tender and buttery, it’s no wonder this French bread is so popular.
Having quite a few pumpkins this year, and judging from some of the pictures posted on the Facebook group, many of you have an abundance of pumpkins too, so I thought why not combine sweet pumpkin and a hint of spice to this French classic.
It’s the butter and eggs in a brioche that makes it so delicious. It’s thought of more as a dessert bread because of the rich texture the butter and eggs give it, but a traditional brioche is not actually sweet.
This pumpkin brioche is sweet though. I added brown sugar and cinnamon. It’s a loose spin on a traditional brioche.
Any type of pumpkin can be used in this bread, though the sweeter the better. Steam or bake your peeled pumpkin until soft and blitz it into a smooth puree. A cup of pumpkin puree gives this bread dough a lovely golden hue.
I make my brioche dough in a stand mixer and I suggest you do too, or in a bread maker. The dough is very, very sticky at the start so it is hard to mix by hand. You need to keep mixing the dough until it goes from wet and sticky, to smooth and elastic.
When you add liquid to flour, the gluten in the flour swells and forms gluten strands. By mixing and kneading a dough, this warms and stretches the gluten strands which then form a springy and elastic dough. I use a high-grade flour in this recipe as this contains more gluten. More gluten means more gluten strands are made and intertwined, which creates the structure of the dough.
This stretchy and elastic dough will capture gas bubbles that are released by the yeast and create the rise in the dough.
The dough rises for a total of three times. I make my brioche dough the night before I actually bake it, as for the second rise, leaving the dough to ferment in the refrigerator for a while enhances the flavour greatly. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours and up to 24 hours.
Chilling the dough in the refrigerator also gives the butter in it a chance to solidify and makes it easier to shape the dough. If the dough is too warm while you’re shaping it, the butter may start to leak out.
Once shaped, the dough proofs for one last time before it’s brushed with an egg wash and baked.
It’s the best to eat on the day it has been baked as it contains no preservatives so by day two and three it will become stale. Luckily, stale brioche is perfect for many other recipes. I use my stale brioche to make extra special french toast. A quick dip in a milk, cinnamon and egg mix, fried in butter and topped with maple syrup.
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1 sachet instant yeast
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk (for egg wash)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tblsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups white high grade flour
- 150g butter, softened
- In a small bowl, mix together the warm water, white sugar and instant yeast.
- In a stand bread mixer bowl, add in the pumpkin puree, two of the eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Mix together
- Add in the flour and the yeast mixture.
- Start the mixer and add in the butter, a tablespoon at time, waiting till each tablespoon is incorporated before adding the next.
- Mix on high for at least 15 minutes. The mixture will start off very sticky but keep mixing until it forms a ball and there is no more dough stuck to the sides of the bowl. When touched the dough will still be sticky but will be quite elastic and stretchy.
- Place in a greased bowl, covered with a damp tea towel and let it rise in a warm place for an hour until doubled in size.
- Gently pull away the dough from the side of the bowl to deflate it, pushing down down slightly on the top. No kneading it, just pushing out the air.
- Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove from the refrigerator and tip out onto a lightly floured bench.
- Shape gently into a log and cut in half. Shape each half into another log and cut those in half. Cut each of those into three, so you have 12 even sized dough balls.
- Shape slightly into ball shapes and place in a greased tray.
- Cover with a damp tea towel and let them rise for an hour until doubled in size.
- Mix the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and brush on the dough.
- Heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Bake for 35 minutes until the tops are a shiny dark brown.
- Let cool before removing them from the tray by pulling them apart.