I'll apologise in advance for this. To your bathroom scales and to your ability to say no. Brioche is pretty much the best pastry product. Ever. And with most awesome things in the food world, it's really, really bad for you. None of that "everything in moderation" palaver. This stuff is basically butter on butter. And it's hella good.
What it lacks in nutritional value, it makes up for with versatility. It's got versatility out to yin-yang! Burger buns, toasted with jam (pretty close to my favourite weekend breakfast treat), a vehicle for pate, a swirly chocolate pastry. Yep. It gets better than just being plain old delicious.
If you've got an electric mixer, it's pretty much a crime to not make these. If it's not a crime, I know people who know people. You'll be pulled over for a seemingly minor traffic violation and voila! Twenty to life. All because you refused to make that buttery treat. Won't somebody think of the children?!
If you don't have a mixer, but you do like a challenge, I say go for it. It's a pretty sticky, messy dough but not unheard of to whip up. I know you're hesitating, but you will embarrassed when I tell you my six year old niece, the beautiful Eve, helped me make a batch by hand just the other day. Now, I'm the first to admit Eve is exceptionally talented, but she's six. She made brioche without a mixer. Pull the finger out, whingers.
Now I'm done chastising you, I'll get on with the more persuasive side of the brioche argument. Have you ever eaten bread and thought "I wish I were eating cake right now"? Or perhaps you were enjoying some cake and went "Bread would be awesome". Well, ladies and gentlemen, here is the answer to all your prayers. It's basically cake bread. Tasty, tasty cake bread.
Plus, it's totally exotic. It's from that far away land, France. (Bare with me. Living in Australia makes pretty much any other country in the world "a far away land"). Brioche translates to "sweet bun" in English. I won't tell you what prendre de la brioche translates to, though. OK, OK. It means "to develop a paunch". Don't say I didn't warn you.
Adapted from Shannon Bennett
500g plain flour
25g fresh yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp milk
375g butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten, plus splash of milk, for egg wash.
2 tbsp pearl sugar
Raspberry jam, to serve
Combine flour, salt, yeast, sugar and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix briefly until combined. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs one at a time. Make sure they're all incorporated before you add the next. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once all butter is incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat for 2 minutes.
Turn the dough into a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 20-24 hours, or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Grease one tin (15cm x 10cm) or two smaller tins.
Flour your bench top and turn the dough out. Knead for 2 minutes to loosen dough. Divide into three. The first dough will be for your basic loaves today - you can refrigerate (or freeze) the others until ready to use. Shape the dough to your tin and leave to rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Glaze your loaves with the egg wash. Sprinkle the sugar over the loaves.
Place the loaves into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes at 200ºC and reduce to 170ºC and bake for a further 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
While warm, slice open. To go the double whammy, spread some butter over a slice. If you're feeling conservative, just go with raspberry jam. It's delicious either way.