Vanessa Levis

This is a little topknot-shaped yeast bread which, along with croissants, spells breakfast to millions in France. Eat brioche warm with chilled butter, preferably unsalted, and fruit jam. Brioche are also delicious toasted, or may be hollowed out and used as a case for cooked savoury food such as seafood, pâté or mushrooms.


Quantity Ingredient
15g compressed yeast
or 7g dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
500g plain flour
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
125g butter, softened
beaten egg, to glaze


  1. If using compressed yeast, dissolve the yeast in the water.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Take out 1/2 cup of the flour and work it gradually into the dissolved compressed yeast, or mix it with the dry yeast, if using, and the lukewarm water, to form a soft dough.
  3. Form this dough into a ball and cut a cross in the top. Place the ball in a bowl of warm water and leave for about 5 minutes or until it doubles in bulk (it will rise to the surface when ready).
  4. Meanwhile, make a well in the centre of the remaining flour, put in the sugar, eggs and milk and stir them together. Drain the yeast sponge, place it in the well and combine with the egg mixture. Stir in the surrounding flour gradually to form a soft dough. Beat the dough vigorously with your hand until well mixed, then beat in the butter.
  5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, sprinkle lightly with flour, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator, punch the dough down and turn it onto a floured board. Knead lightly, then divide into pieces the size of an egg.
  7. Cut off one third of each piece; roll the remainder of each piece into a ball and put into greased brioche moulds (deep fluted moulds). Roll small pieces of dough into little tadpole-shaped tops with tails. Cut a cross in the top of each brioche, open it a little and push the tops in, tail down. Leave to rise for 10–15 minutes in a warm place.
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  9. Brush the brioche with beaten egg and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
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