Wednesday, June 2, 2010

BBA: Brioche

The fourth bread of the BBA Challenge is Brioche. Brioche is a rich bread that can be described by one ingredient- butter. Reinhart gives three variations on brioche: Rich Man's Brioche, Middle-Class Brioche, and Poor Man's Brioche. The difference in these recipes is simply the amount of butter or, perhaps more enlightening, the percentage of butter to flour. Seeing the percentages really drove it home for me. Reinhart recounts that "the anecdotal history of this bread includes allusions to Queen Marie Antoinette, whose last words were reputed to be properly translated as 'Let them eat brioche', and not 'Let them eat cake.'"
Rich Man's, Middle-Class, Poor Man's

When I first saw this challenge I figured I would do the rich man's brioche and move on. One of the nice things about being late to the game on this challenge is that a lot of fellow bloggers are ahead of me and I can learn from them. I found out that both Katye and Phyl made all three and indicated they were each quite different. Katye liked the poor man's best. Phyl liked the middle-class best. Nancy did a roundup of many brioche bakers who did all kinds of creative twists. My curiosity was peaked. I baked all three.

I chose to bake loafs instead of the classic brioches a tete in fluted molds. It looked interesting, but just like too much work this week.

Rich Man's Brioche
Rich man's brioche is in excess of 70% butter to flour. In fact, it has the same ratio of flour to fat to sugar as pie dough. I hope I haven't caused a coronary in anyone already.
Handling the rich man's dough was much like handling butter itself. I think instead of "shaping" the bread it should say you should "mold" the dough. I wish I would have taken a picture of the loaf pan after de-panning the bread. It looked like I had just sprayed it down with oil. Butter just seemed to ooze from this bread. It was on all accounts delicious, but perhaps a bit much too.

Middle-Class Brioche
Middle-Class brioche is about 50% butter to flour. Reinhart states it's the most common form and is perfect for cinnamon rolls.

Middle-Class was my favorite. It was rich and sweet and buttery, but I didn't feel like I was dripping with butter after I ate it.

Poor Man's Brioche
Poor man's brioche is "butter challenged" as Reinhart put it at only 20-25% butter to flour.
Poor man's was my second favorite. It was much easier to make taking only one day and it handled very well. It does lack the buttery flakiness of the others but it's a fantastic bread in it's own right. Each bread has an egg wash you put on top before baking. I was a bit sloppy with my egg wash on the poor man's and after it baked I had some egg cooked to the side of my bread. As I ate the eggy slice I thought that this bread would make the ultimate french toast. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to try that out as we ate all three loaves in two days and my poor man's brioche suffered from an uncooked middle. It was my own fault. I messed up the baking temperature.
No, I will not share how much butter we consumed in three loaves of brioche in 24 hours. Let's just say, I'm going for an extra run this week.


  1. Wow, I can't believe you baked all three. Good for you!! I love comparison posts. =)

  2. Oh my! You are really insane! All three! The butter! But, actually, I'm really glad since I was pretty curious to read about the comparison. The other thing is that you've re-ignited my craving for brioche!


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