Bubble-Top Brioche

As the snow falls outside and our Christmas tree is proudly (half) decorated, it finally feels as though winter has arrived in Denver.  The 65-degrees temperatures over Thanksgiving weekend gave the holiday a decidedly summer-like quality that just felt wrong.  I am thrilled that it has snowed twice in the past week.  It is about time.

Snow makes me crave a warm bowl of soup and a hot-from-the oven roll or slice of bread.  I made my favorite Easy Split Pea Soup this weekend and I look forward to eating it for lunch all week.  The split soup could not be easier to make and this recipe is hearty and flavorful and so simple.  A great accompaniment would be these fresh Bubble-Top Brioche rolls.  I made these for the first time for Thanksgiving dinner.  They are flaky and buttery and perfect fresh out of the oven.  They taste fine for the following two days but really shine if served immediately. 

A few notes about the recipe.  First, I've found that you have to be precise when making bread and that starts from the simplest step - getting the yeast to activate by combining it with the hot water and milk.  If your yeast doesn't bubble or froth, start this step again or your bread won't rise properly.  Second, I didn't time my "rises" for this bread properly and could only deflate the bread once before I needed to refrigerate it as described below and the bread was fine.  Finally, some of my rolls doubled in size during the final rise whereas others rose just a bit.  Once baked, they all had the desired "bubble-top", so don't fret if the rolls seems to rise to different heights (you can see from the photo above with the wax paper that some of my rolls were real giants).

Bubble-Top Brioches
Recipe by Dorie Greenspan from the October 2009 Bon Appétit

1/4 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
1/4 cup warm whole milk (110°F to 115°F)
3 teaspoons active dry yeast (measured from two 1/4-ounce envelopes)
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)


Combine 1/4 cup warm water and warm milk in bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Sprinkle yeast over and stir to moisten evenly. Let stand until yeast dissolves, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Add flour and salt to yeast mixture. Blend at medium-low speed until shaggy lumps form, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in sugar. Increase mixer speed to medium; beat until dough is smooth, about 3 minutes.

Reduce speed to low. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until blended after each addition, about 4 minutes (dough will be soft and silky). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and climbs paddle, 8 to 9 minutes.

Lightly butter large bowl. Scrape dough into bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.

Gently deflate dough by lifting around edges, then letting dough fall back into bowl, turning bowl and repeating as needed. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill, deflating dough in same way every 30 minutes until dough stops rising, about 2 hours. Chill overnight. (At this point, use the dough to make 12 brioches, or 6 brioches and 1 tart, or 2 tarts.)

Butter 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces; cut each piece into thirds. Roll each small piece between palms into ball. Place 3 balls in each prepared cup (dough will fill cup).  Place muffin pan in warm draft-free area; lay sheet of waxed paper over. Let dough rise until light and almost doubled (dough will rise 1/2 inch to 1 inch above top rim of muffin cups), 50 to 60 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Place muffin pan on rimmed baking sheet. Gently brush egg glaze over risen dough, being careful that glaze does not drip between dough and pan (which can prevent full expansion in oven).

Bake brioches until golden brown, covering with foil if browning too quickly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to rack. Cool 10 minutes. Remove brioches from pan. Serve warm.  IF you happen to have any rolls leftover, these would be amazing in a bread pudding the following day...