Friday, March 19, 2010

My Bread Year: Whole-Wheat Brioche

I hadn't intended on making Brioche. But one day I woke up and was craving it so much that I had to have it. Instead of cracking open a recipe, I decided to just find it. After all, I just wanted a piece, no?

The bakery in my street has pretty amazing bread, but their brioche is, well, not-so-amazing. It's made in muffin tins and, even though it has the tête, it's just not what I wanted. I wanted something specific, something just like- no- exactly like the buttery richness of the brioche from the beginning of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge.

I wanted that brioche.


But I didn't make it. I spent about another week trying to find some- which is near impossible here in Berlin- before I remembered that Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads has a recipe for Whole Wheat Brioche.

The recipe follows Reinhart's Epoxy Method, where two unlike doughs meet to create a stronger better dough. The soaker is essentially the water and salt, and probably serves as an extended autolyse of the flour, as well as to develop flavor. The starter or biga has a minimal amount of yeast, and also develops flavor, but also allows the yeast to multiply so that less yeast is needed overall. In this case, the soaker consisted of scalded milk, butter, flour and salt. The starter had the eggs, along with flour and yeast.

Both mixtures were difficult to work with because they were so thick. I wanted more liquid in the mixtures to make them easier to work with, but that didn't happen. I just mixed as well as I could and stuck the two mixtures in the fridge.

After a night and day of refrigeration, I took them out and mixed them together. Because they were so cold, they refused to mix, and I had to allow them to come to room temperature before they would even merge.


I sort of messed up in this part. After the mixing, the dough is supposed to go directly into the molds. I let it rise in a bowl before checking on the time in the book. I molded them about two hours into the first and only rise.


So, because this is supposed to be My Bread Year, overbrowned warts and all, I am presenting all breads as they came out. You may remember my Stollen disaster. No? Oh, maybe that's because I'm getting ahead of myself.

The electric oven I work with has an exposed element at the top, so breads usually come out browner than I usually want. Somehow, I seem to never learn my lesson, and usually let things become darker than usual. Though the dark bits were still delicious, the brioche would have looked even better if it hadn't been so dark.


But the bottom came out great!

As for the taste? Heavenly.

Well, at least when the bread was warm. It tasted completely like pancakes. The whole grain was sweet and nutty and the butter was just enough to make the crumb so tender. It was amazing.

The bad part? Well, when cool, the bread was dry and tasted a bit bland. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because the recipe has very little sugar, or because there wasn't enough butter.

Or, if I may completely take a wild guess. When warm, the bread was probably releasing more aromas, which helped make it taste better.

I'm still craving brioche, but not as much. I even paid a visit to Galeries Lafayette, thinking that if I couldn't find brioche there, I would give up. I found some, and it was good, but it wasn't the exact brioche I wanted. Again, not enough butter.


  1. I was so interested to see that you had made this. I am a bit of a brioche fanatic, though I haven't made it in a while due to all my other BBA bread obligations. I have PR's whole grain breads too and the one that I am most intrigued by (as well as suspicious of) is the whole grain brioche. (Partly, my view is--you're eating brioche for goodness sake, it's not healthy, just give in). It sounds really good, at least right out of the oven. If you reheat it does it go back to tasting just as good as before, or it it it a "fresh out the oven" only taste?

  2. Hi Sara! I'm actually reading your Potato Rosemary post right now. The bread tastes amazing warm both out of the oven and when reheated. Which was a bit surprising, but was great. I forgot to mention that my girlfriend thought I had bought the brioche and also said it was the best thing I've ever made.

  3. I'm so glad your brioche turned out great! My PR middle man brioche was great out of the oven, but dry and bland the next day. Is it due to the butter content? I thought it tasted better reheated, too. I really need to taste a 'real' bakery brioche for a comparison...

  4. I've been intrigued by the whole wheat brioche in Whole Grain Breads -- thanks for trying it, I may give it a go!

  5. I don't know Daniel, but is whole wheat brioche an oxymoron? I doubt that I will ever eat or buy another brioche in my life, but I am glad that you are working on your craving.

  6. Over-browned warts!LOL

    Your description of sweet, nutty, and tender crumbs makes me want to try it.

  7. ROTFL. Overbrowned warts... The crumb shot makes me want to try this recipe!

  8. I love your honest and open willingness to show us all your breads, overbrowned warts and all. Glad we got to see the perfect underside and gorgeous interior. I am very intrigued by whole wheat brioche. Thanks for sharing.