I used two recipes to make these buns:
Epicurious© “Brioche Dough,” from Gourmet Magazine, 2008: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Brioche-Dough-103412
The Clever Carrot© “Light Brioche Hamburger Buns” (baking instructions only): http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2013/05/light-brioche-hamburger-buns/
I started making these on Saturday, but then you have to chill the dough for at least 12 hours or up to three days, so I had time to think of what to do with the dough. Cinnamon rolls or sticky buns came to mind, of course, but I don’t really need to eat desserts too often, so buns for sandwiches seemed like a better idea, and really, brioche, that buttery, eggy sweet dough, makes a sandwich that’s practically a dessert, anyway. I didn’t figure out until Sunday what the sandwich filling would be, but ended up with pulled pork for a little southern barbeque meets French pastry. It was a good diplomatic pairing. We ate three buns for Sunday’s dinner, and then I cubed and froze the rest for a later bread pudding.
I used the instructions and ingredients exactly as stated in the recipe for brioche dough found on Epicurious, but I have a few suggestions (in the recipe) to make it go a little better for you.
All brioche doughs use eggs and butter, but this one uses a lot—3 eggs and 1 1/2 sticks of butter! It works, but I think you need a stand mixer to get all the butter incorporated. I would not have tried it with just a spoon and arm power.
Don’t plan to make and eat these on the same day unless you rise very, very early:
Mixing time about 1 hour
First rise about 2-3 hours
Resting in refrigerator minimum 12 hours or up to 3 days
Forming and second rise up to 2 hours if your dough is not brought to room temperature first
Baking 15 minutes
The recipe at Epicurious is just for dough; it does not give instructions for making buns or any other recipe. You can make this dough and then experiment with how to use it or find any number of recipes with specific instructions. I followed directions on how to form and bake the buns at The Clever Carrot, even though my dough was much richer.
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm milk or water
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
*1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
*I suggest using only 1/4 cup flour in this starter that has to sit for 1 hour, because, contrary to the instructions, 1/4 cup of liquid and 1/2 cup of flour does not make a soft dough. It makes a hockey puck that does not soften or spread over the rest of the dough, as per the original instructions. Add the other 1/4 cup to the dough ingredients below. You can see in my two photos here that the original starter mixture has too much flour, and that even though my heavy duty mixer eventually incorporated it, it is clearly too stiff to work as directed.
Soften the yeast in the sugar and warm milk for about 10 minutes, or until foamy. Stir in 1/4 cup flour, reserving the other 1/4 cup for the dough below, and allow to rest, covered, for 1 hour. The original instructions say to cut a deep x in the small ball of dough, but it did not have any effect for my dough, which never softened much, even though I put it in a warm place. When I make it again, I will follow my own suggestions and hope for a softer starter or I may just incorporate the starter ingredients in the dough without waiting the extra hour.
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon hot milk or water
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups if you are adjusting the starter, above)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices and brought to room temperature
- Combine the salt, sugar, and hot milk, mixing until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Here, again, I think the proportions are wrong, because there is not enough liquid to fully dissolve the sugar. I stirred until I realized this would not happen and continued, knowing that the sugar would incorporate without completely dissolving. You can see that I can be headstrong with recipe instructions.
- Using your mixer’s *paddle attachment, beat 2 eggs and sugar mixture until combined. Keeping the mixer running at the lowest speed, add the following ingredients, beating after each addition: 1/2 cup flour, the third egg, 1/2 cup flour, about one fourth of butter, and the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Beat mixture 1 minute.
- *The original recipe asks you to start mixing the dough with the mixer whisk attachment, and at the end of that stage, your whisk is so full of sticky dough that it takes about 10 minutes to get it all out, and some you never do. I suggest just beating the eggs first and using the paddle attachment for the first stage, because it is much easier to clean.
- Change to the dough-hook attachment. Spread starter onto dough with a rubber spatula and return bowl to mixer—obviously, mine wasn’t spreadable using the original instructions, so I simply flattened it with my hands. Beat dough at medium-high speed 6 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add remaining butter and beat 1 minute, or until butter is incorporated—the butter will eventually incorporate, so don’t give up on this step. It makes a sticky dough, but don’t let the comments below the original recipe discourage you; some of them confuse brioche with puff pastry and some must just be averse to wet doughs. Do not add more flour to the dough.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape the dough into a large, buttered bowl. Lightly dust dough with flour to prevent a crust from forming. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature until more than doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours.
- Punch down dough and lightly dust with flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough, punching down after first hour, at least 12 hours.
Forming and Baking the Buns
Preheat oven to 400°; line baking sheet with parchment
I allowed my dough to come to room temperature in a warm place, first, to have a more malleable dough to form into buns.
The photos at The Clever Carrot© are invaluable for forming the dough, so please go there to see them: http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2013/05/light-brioche-hamburger-buns/
Although the dough I used had different amounts of ingredients, it worked exactly right for eight buns. I cut the dough into eighths with a bench scraper and used the method described to flatten each piece and then draw up the edges into a little purse, then turn over and roll into a nice round. It worked very well, even though mine are not as perfect as the ones at The Clever Carrot©.
Bake for about 15 minutes.
I was just thinking these buns would make great breakfast sandwiches, too, with fried eggs and sausage.