|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2011)|
|Type||Breakfast, dessert, or snack|
|Place of origin||France|
|Main ingredient(s)||Flour, eggs, butter, milk, water, cream|
Brioche (// or //; French: [bʁi.ɔʃ]) is a pastry of French origin that is akin to a highly enriched bread, and whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb. It is "light and slightly puffy, more or less fine, according to the proportion of butter and eggs." It has a dark, golden, and flaky crust, frequently accentuated by an egg wash applied after proofing.
Brioche is considered a Viennoiserie, in that it is made in the same basic way as bread, but has the richer aspect of a pastry because of the extra addition of eggs, butter, liquid (milk, water, cream, and, sometimes, brandy) and occasionally a bit of sugar. Brioche, along with pain au lait and pain aux raisins — which are commonly eaten at breakfast or as a snack — form a leavened subgroup of Viennoiserie. Brioche is often cooked with fruit or chocolate chips and served as a pastry or as the basis of a dessert with many local variations in added ingredients, fillings or toppings.
"Brioche is eaten with dessert or tea, but also has numerous uses in cuisine. Common brioche dough is suitable for coulibiac and fillet of beef en croute. Brioche mousseline surrounds foie gras, sausage, cervelat lyonnais; ... individual brioches serve as containers for various chopped and sauced stuffings, savoury or sweet, as warm appetizers or intermediate courses."
Brioche à tête or parisienne is perhaps the most classically recognized form: it is formed and baked in a fluted round, flared tin; a large ball of dough is placed on the bottom and topped with a smaller ball of dough to form the head (tête). Brioche Nanterre is a loaf of brioche made in a standard loaf pan. Instead of shaping two pieces of dough and baking them together, two rows of small pieces of dough are placed in the pan. Loaves are then proofed (allowed to rise) in the pan, fusing the pieces together. During the baking process the balls of dough rise further and form an attractive pattern.
Brioche can also be made in a pan without being rolled into balls to make an ordinary loaf.
Brioche dough contains flour, eggs, butter, liquid (milk, water, cream, and sometimes brandy), leavening (yeast or sourdough), salt, and sometimes sugar. Common recipes have a flour to butter ratio of about 2:1.
The normal method is to make the dough, let it rise to double its volume at room temperature and then punch it down and let it rise again in the refrigerator for varying periods (according to the recipe), retarding the dough to develop the flavor. Refrigeration also stiffens the dough, which still rises, albeit slowly, making it easier to form. The dough is then shaped, placed in containers for the final rise (proof), and the tops are generally brushed with an egg wash just before baking to give the top a burnished sheen during baking, and then baked at 230 °C (446 °F) until the crust browns (Maillard reaction) and the interior is done (reaches at least 90 °C). The first rise time for small rolls is 1 to 1½ hours, for larger brioche the time is lengthened until the loaves double.
The first recorded use of the word in French dates from 1404. It is attested in 1611 in Cotgrave's A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, where it is described as "a rowle, or bunne, of spiced bread" and its origin given as Norman. A similar type of bread, called tsoureki (τσουρέκι), is also traditionally baked in Greece for the Easter weekend.
In France it developed as "a sort of bread improved since antiquity by generations of bakers, then of pastry-makers ... with some butter, some eggs, sugar coming later ... it developed from the blessed bread [pain bénit] of the church which gradually became of better quality, more and more costly, less and less bread; until becoming savoury brioche". In the 17th century "pâté à tarte briochée", "a pain à brioche pauvre ... [using only] 3 eggs and 250 grams of butter for 1 kilogram of flour" was introduced. The terms "pain bénit" and "brioche" were sometimes used together or virtually interchangeably; so, for example, in another 17th century recipe entitled: "CHAPITRE II. Paint bénit, & brioches." It begins with a lighter, cheaper version of blessed bread, calling for "a pound of fresh butter and a soft cheese [but no eggs!] for a pail of flour; and goes on to describe "the more delicate that we call Cousin", which uses 3 pounds of butter, 2 cheeses, and a royal pint of eggs for the same amount of flour, as well "some good milk" if "the dough is too firm". However, sourdough and brewer's yeast preparations would both remain common well into the next century, with "blessed bread ... more and more often replaced by brioche" in the 18th century, where, "Those from Gisors and Gournay, great butter markets, were the most highly regarded." For the wealthy "from the time of Louis XIV onwards ... Butter, in widespread use at least in the northern half of France, was the secret of making brioches". "In Gisors, on market days, they produce up to 250 or 300 kg of brioches. The dough is made the evening before (1 kg of farine, a quarter of which for the starter, 10 g of yeast, 7 or 8 eggs; one mixes this together with the starter and 800 g of butter, breaking up the dough, which 'uses up the butter'. The dough is kept in a terrine, and one puts it in a mold just at the moment of baking. Thus prepared, the brioche remains light, keeps well, maintains the flavour of butter, without the stench of the starter. Brioche of varying degrees of richness from the rich man's with a flour to butter ratio of 3:2 to the cheaper pain brioché with a ratio of 4:1 existed at the same time.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his autobiography Confessions (published posthumously in 1782, but completed in 1769), relates that "a great princess" is said to have advised, with regard to peasants who had no bread, "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche", commonly inaccurately translated as "Let them eat cake". This saying is commonly mis-attributed to Queen Marie-Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI. In the contemporaneous "Encyclopédie" it says: "the taste for luxury and onerous magnificence of much of the world, having slipped into religious practice, the usage was introduced in large cities of giving in place of bread, some more or less delicate cake ... one would not believe what it costs the nation every year for this article alone. We know that there are more than 40,000 parishes in the kingdom where they distribute blessed bread".
Although there has been much debate about the etymology of the word and, thus, the recipe's origins, it is now widely accepted that it is derived from the Old French verb "brier", 'a Norman dialectical form of "broyer", to work the dough with a "broye" or "brie" (a sort of wooden roller for kneading); the suffix "-oche" is a generic deverbal suffix. "Pain brié" is a Norman bread whose dense dough was formerly worked with this instrument'. The root—bhreg—is of Germanic origin.
- Le Grand Larousse gastronomoque, Larousse, 2007, p. 134
- Glenn Rinsky, Laura Halpin Rinsky, The Pastry Chef's Companion: A Comprehensive Resource Guide for the Baking and Pastry Professional, 2008, p. 39
- Baking with Julia by Julia Child, 1996, p. 26; The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson, 2006, p. 100; The Taste of Bread by Raymond Calvel, 2001; The Joy of Cooking by rombauer and Becker, 1997, p. 741; On Food and Cooking:the science and lore of the kitchen by Harold Mcgee, 2004, p. 538
- "Brioche". Le Trésor de la Langue Française informatisé. Analyse et Traitement Informatique de la Langue Française. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
- "Cotgrave's 1611 French/English Dictionary". pbm.com. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
- "Tsoureki - Greek Easter bread". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
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- Carême, Marie-Antoine. Le pâtissier royal parisien ou Traité élémentaire et pratique de la pâtisserie ancienne et moderne, Paris: J.-G. Dentu, 1815
- Urban Legends: Marie Antoinette (About.Com)
- ENCYCLOPEDIE, Neufchastel: Samuel Faulche, 1765, vol. 11, p. 751.
- Trésor de la langue française informatisé s.v. -oche
- La très belle et Très exquisse histoire des gateaux et des friandises by Toussaint-Samat, Paris: Flammarion, 2004
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