Making brioche is easier than it looks and it makes for some spectacularly good French toast. Worth making the effort for, this brioche recipe comes courtesy of Julia Child and is perfect for soaking up our special French toast mixture! Begin with the brioche or skip straight to our delicious French toast recipe.
Brioche dough has a rich, buttery flavor and is closer to cake than bread in texture. Essential to this recipe is either an electric mixer or a food processor. The dough itself needs two risings – the second rising can happen while refrigerated overnight, though we did this within one day.
Beat at a medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, slowly add the remaining flour. For best results, use a dough hook (if you aren’t using a dough hook unclog the blades if needed). Place dough on a lightly floured board and leave to rest for about 2 minutes.
Then knead the dough vigorously for 2 minutes. The dough should feel quite soft.
Place dough in lightly-oiled large bowl (2 gallon-sized). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place to rise (preferably in the range of 72–75F). If you’re in hot climate, it may be necessary to slow the rise by putting it in the refrigerator. In approximately 3 hours (or when it’s tripled in size) turn out onto a lightly floured board.
Julia’s tip: shape the dough into a rectangle with your hands and then fold the dough in 3 – repeat this process and then return to the bowl. This process redistributes the yeast cells within the dough and helps achieve a finer grain consistency.
Cover and let rise again – ideally to double the size. This second rise can be achieved overnight, if you prefer, by placing in the refrigerator.
Turn out onto a board. Take one half of the dough and cut into three pieces. Roll each piece out by hand until you have three even ropes. Pinch together at one end.
Then, start braiding by crossing the right rope over the center rope. Then, cross the left rope over the center. Alternate in this way, right and left over center, until the braid is complete.
Place the two loaves of bread in two regular loaf pans (lightly oiled). Cover and let rise (the final rise, I promise!) for 1 to 2 hours.
If you like you can glaze with an egg wash. Beat an egg and carefully brush the top of the loaf, careful not let any egg run down the side of the pan as this will cause the loaf to stick. Preheat oven to 450F (230C) and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or if you have a thermometer – until the internal temperature has reached 180-190F.
Brioche French toast
If you haven’t made the brioche above you can still use any spongy, thickly-sliced white bread as a substitute – challah, sourdough and baguettes work well.
In a pan lay out 6 pieces of brioche. Make sure these are sliced between ¾ inch – 1 inch thick.
Whisk the eggs and add the sugar.
Add the vanilla, heavy cream and milk. Whisk together well.
Pour the mixture over the bread.
Make sure you get a good coverage. Use a spatula to lift the bread to ensure the bread is thoroughly soaked. Cover the pan with tinfoil and leave to soak in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, take out and turn the bread and give it another 30 minutes (if you make this the night before you can easily leave it to soak overnight).
The bread should have absorbed all of the mixture.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and then pan fry with butter (at a ratio of 1 Tbs for every two slices) on a medium heat.
Flip once and then reduce heat.
Pro tip: cover with tinfoil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. This allows the French toast to be cooked through without burning – which can happen due to the high sugar content.