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Butterless Brioche Braid (OK, whatever, perhaps it’s a Challah!)

Butterless brioche braid
Butterless brioche braid

Hello again, it’s your adventuring baking buddy, with the conclusion to the “Look Before You Brioche” story.

It turned out wonderfully!  I decided to make braided loaves as suggested on the King Arthur Flour blog, where I also picked up some more amazing brioche dough ideas, such as using it to make cinnamon rolls!  (I am actually prohibited from saying amazeballs because I am over 40.)

Here is the recipe (with all apologies to Betty Crocker):

Butterless Brioche Bread (OK, Maybe it’s a Challah, whatever!)

1 package quick-acting dry yeast (no patience for regular), 1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees Farenheit), 2 T sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 5 eggs, 1 egg white (save the yolk for later!), 3.5 cups AP flour, 1 egg yolk (see, I told you so!), 1 T water

Dissolve yeast in warm water in working bowl of food processor, or mixer bowl.  Add sugar, salt, 5 whole eggs, 1 egg white and 2 cups of the flour.  Beat on low speed, scraping bowl constantly if using a conventional mixer, for 30 seconds, then on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Add remaining flour and blend on low until dough is smooth.

Scrape dough from side of bowl.  If using a food processor, place dough into oiled (can spray with cooking spray) bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap, set in warm place and let rise until double (about an hour).

Stir down dough by beating about 25 strokes (by hand). Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2-8 hours (8 hours was recommended, but I didn’t wait that long).  Remove middle shelf of oven, leaving only the top and very bottom shelf. Preheat oven to 375 (350 if convection).

Spray two bread loaf pans with cooking spray. Divide dough in half.  With lightly floured hands, on floured surface (I like to use a silicone cookie sheet liner as a backup), divide one half of the dough into three equal pieces.  Roll each of the three into a rope about 10″ long.  Pinch the ends of the three ropes together, braid, then pinch together the ends of the rope at the terminal end of the braid.  Place braid in one of the loaf pans, tucking under pinched ends.  Repeat the braiding step with the other half of the dough, place into remaining loaf pan. Again, cover with plastic wrap, set in warm place, and allow to rise for about 2-3 hours until puffy.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and water with a fork.  Using a pastry brush, gently apply this mixture to the top of each braided loaf. Go lightly, as you want to avoid having the egg mixture run down the loaf and accumulate at the edge of the pan. Then, if desired, sprinkle the top of the loaf with plain sugar.  I used some Demerara sugar I “found” in a cupboard. I suppose a festive holiday effect could also be achieved by using colored sugar.  Step back, and sigh with anticipation as you see this sight:

Brioche braids - before baking
Brioche braids – before baking

I followed the advice of the KAF blogger and placed the pans on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Place the loaf pans (on parchment-paper lined cookie sheet) on the bottom shelf of preheated oven.  Use another cookie sheet (unlined) on the top shelf as a “sunshade” for your loaves as they bake.

Bake for 15 minutes until loaf tops are golden-brown, then “tent” the loaves with pieces of foil (see the pictures on the KAF blog), and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the center of the loaf reads at 205 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (I actually pulled mine out at 200, and they read at the recommended temperature after exiting the oven for a few minutes). Immediately remove loaves from pans, cool on wire rack (I would put your lined cookie pan under the rack if you used sugar on the loaf tops, to avoid having a mess.)

Enjoy the fully cooled bread plain, with butter, as French Toast, or what-have-you.

Husband and son demolished one loaf while I was at work; took the other loaf to work and it was devoured.

PS:  I made the traditional white bread I originally set out to make, and it was amazeballs.

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