Happy fall! Although we’ve got all sorts of autumn bounty showing up at the market, apples and pears and figs everywhere, I’ve still got a soft spot for the late harvest peaches. It’s sort of like the weather here right now: tentatively overcast, even a tease of rain, and then a brilliantly warm day to remind us that the bay area hasn’t let go of all its sunshine yet.
Still, the nippier mornings get me in the mood for richer, cozier fare, and my favorite way to fill that craving is with brioche. Whether as a loaf or individual buns, brioche is indulgent on its own, or makes a perfect base for even more goodness. In this case, I threw in some brown sugar for an extra layer of sweetness, and a dollop of sour cream for even more richness and moistness (a trick I learned from Alice Medrich). It’s a very soft dough, with all the eggs and butter, but a quick chill in the refrigerator should take care of any sticky handling issues. Especially if your kitchen is warm, you should let the dough chill for at least an hour or so after the rise, to ensure the butter doesn’t melt or separate.
Although you can bake these brioche freeform (just roll the dough into balls and place on the baking sheet), I prefer to use molds to help them keep their shape (also, if you haven’t chilled your dough enough, they could spread in the oven and you’ll end up with flat disks). You can use either the traditional fluted metal molds, or the cylindrical baking papers (found online or in baking supply stores). The lovely half-domed buns you get from using the paper molds are ideal for splitting and toasting, English muffin style, and stuffing with fillings. Some peach slices and a generous cloud of whipped cream turns the brioche dinner-dessert-worthy.
P.S. If you’re looking for another fall take on brioche, see these apple cinnamon brioche rolls from a couple years back!
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (5 g) active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup (67 g) sugar
- 1/4 cup (57 g) lukewarm (80 degrees F) water
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (55 g) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons sparkling sugar for topping
- Combine water with 2 teaspoons of the sugar in bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the water. Mix until yeast is dissolved, then let mixture stand for about 5 minutes until yeast has developed.
- Combine remaining sugar, brown sugar, flour, and salt in a small bowl and add to the mixer bowl. Mix with dough hook on low speed until combined.
- Add eggs and sour cream and mix with dough hook on medium speed until dough starts to come together.
- Add butter, a couple pieces at a time, letting them combine into the dough. Mix until dough becomes smooth and shiny, and masses around the dough hook, making a slapping sound against the mixer bowl, about 8-10 minutes.
- Transfer dough to lightly floured board and form into a ball. Place into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let proof for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours until it has doubled in size. You can now use the dough, but for best results, punch down the dough to deflate it, then re-cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- To make the brioche, take the dough and divide into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place in individual brioche molds set on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Cover brioche with plastic wrap and let proof for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until they look puffy. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F near the end of the proofing.
- Beat the egg yolk with a little water in a small bowl. Brush some of the egg yolk over the tops of the brioche. Sprinkle with the sparkling sugar.
- Bake brioche for 16-18 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before unmolding. Place on wire racks to finish cooling.