I made these for the superbowl, which was arguably a long ass time ago, but it occurs to me there is another major sporting event going on. However, like Voldemort and the Olympics, mere mortals in the advertising business seem not to be able to say its name, resulting in a comedic number of commercials with whistles, dribbling sounds, and crowd noises shouting about how enthusiastic they are about the MARCH EVENT, but no tacit acknowledgment of what event they speak. Without putting myself in too hot water, I’d just like to say it would be MADNESS for you to not MARCH right into your kitchens and make these brioche buns. Swish!
They are relatively easy as far as bread-type things go, and if you make a whole batch you can freeze a few individually wrapped in aluminum foil and they defrost in a jiffy for weekend egg sandwiches. Again, I can’t emphasize enough how much of a slam dunk these are. For “the game” we made pulled chicken sandwiches with pickles. Yumtown, friends.
1 lb. 2 oz. (4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 oz. (4 1/2 tsps) active dry yeast
1/2 oz. (2 tsps) table salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
4 oz. (1/2 cup) whole milk, room temperature
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, softened
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
This recipe can be done in one day, but for best flavor, let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator thus making it a two-day affair.
Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add four eggs and the milk to the flour. Mix on low speed to combine. When the dough begins to clump, switch the paddle out for a dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the dough hook down. Mix on medium speed for another 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the dough hook down.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, add half (4 oz.) of the butter one piece at a time – allowing the previous piece of butter to incorporate into the dough before adding the next one. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the hook down. Remove the hook from the dough. Knead the dough by hand in the bowl for a few turns to help incorporate the butter -fold it over on itself while kneading. Reattach the dough hook and add the remaining butter a little at a time on medium-low speed. When all of the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the dough hook and resume mixing for another 4 minutes on medium speed until the dough is slapping the sides of the bowl (it will be smooth and silky).
Let the dough rise twice: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand a few times. Slightly flatten the dough into a circle, then fold the top and bottom edges in toward the center. Now fold the left and right sides in toward the center. Turn the dough over so the smooth side is facing up. Tuck the edges under the dough to shape a nice round sphere. Place the dough ball, smooth-side up, in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free location for an hour or until doubled in size. Flip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times by hand. Form a dough ball like you did before (folding the four “edges” in toward the center, turning the dough over, and tucking the corners under to make a ball) and place in the bowl, smooth-side up. Cover with plastic. At this point, you can either let the dough rise for an hour (until doubled in size) or place it in the refrigerator overnight. I opted for overnight as it develops a better flavor.
Shape and proof the dough: If you refrigerated your dough, let it come to room temperature (about 2+ hours). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and form it into a ball (folding the four “edges” in toward the center, turning the dough over, and tucking the corners under to make a ball). To make brioche buns, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. For other shapes (loaves, brioche à tête) please refer to the Fine Cooking recipe. Form each piece of dough into a smooth ball by gently stretching the top of the dough down around to the bottom on all sides. It’s like you’re petting the top of the dough, stroking it down and tucking it under the bottom. Turn 90 degrees and repeat until you have a nice and smooth ball. Set the dough balls on your baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (about an hour).
Bake the brioche buns: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whisk 2 eggs, the egg yolk, and a pinch of salt together in a medium bowl. Lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash, making sure there are no drips that reach the parchment. Bake until the tops are dark golden brown – about 15 minutes. The internal temperature should read 190°F. Let cool on the baking pans or on wire racks for 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, in the refrigerator for a week, or freeze for up to 5 weeks. They reheat well in a moderate oven (325°F) for about 7 minutes. Makes 12 buns.