Learn how to make a fresh loaf of buttery brioche bread, baked to perfection in a standard loaf pan.
This beginner-friendly, same-day brioche recipe can be done in just a few hours and makes just one loaf of brioche with a shiny golden brown crust and a slightly dense crumb that is so perfectly soft and sweet.
If you're new to bread making, don't be intimidated by brioche bread. You'll need a stand mixer with a dough hook, but I've got all the detailed step-by-step tips, tricks, and visuals you need to feel confident making this enriched dough! You can do this!
This brioche recipe is the same base recipe I adapted to make my apples and honey babka recipe and my chocolate chip brioche loaf recipe. It's super soft and supple, just really fun to work with. You can also use it for things like dinner rolls, hamburger buns, cinnamon rolls, and donuts!
- What is Brioche?
- About This Recipe
- Ingredient Notes
- 🍽 Mise en place (aka "the setup")
- How to Make Brioche Bread Dough
- Passing the Windowpane Test
- The First Rise (Bulk Fermentation)
- Shaping A Brioche Loaf
- The Second Brioche Rise
- Baking Brioche
- Important: Brioche and Temperature
- Cold Proofing Brioche Dough
- Substituting Active Dry Yeast for Instant Yeast
- Equipment Notes — Use a Stand Mixer!
- Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- Recipe FAQ
- TL;DR — Recipe Summary
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
What is Brioche?
Brioche is a soft, buttery bread with a dense, even crumb. It's relatively versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory preparations — great for french toast and grilled cheese sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and garlic knots, doughnuts and burger buns.
Unlike lean bread doughs which are made using flour, water, salt, and yeast (like no-knead bread) and sometimes small amounts of sugar or fat (like in ciabatta), brioche dough is enriched with butter, eggs, milk, and sugar.
This added fat and sugar gives brioche dough its soft, fluffy texture.
In a traditional brioche bread dough, butter is gradually kneaded into the dough after the dough has gone through an initial kneading stage so the yeast can start working. This allows the butter to coat the gluten network in the dough instead of getting in its way.
While lean breads have a relatively short shelf life, the added butter in enriched doughs like brioche allows them to last much longer before going stale.
Within the world of brioche doughs the ratio of butter to flour can vary widely — a rich brioche (sometime's called "rich man's brioche") can be as much as 75% butter by baker's percentage, while a leaner brioche might only be 25% butter by baker's percentage.
The more butter the dough has the richer it is, and the stickier it is to work with due to how quickly the butter melts from the heat of your hands.
About This Recipe
My issue with a lot recipes to make brioche bread loaves is that pesky little "-ves" at the end. Basically, most brioche recipes make more than one loaf of bread. And while I love brioche, I don't always want two loaves of it!
So when I set out to make a base version of my go-to brioche recipe, I wanted it to make just one loaf of bread. You can certainly double or triple it if you want, and I specifically designed the recipe so it's easy to scale up without getting into measurements of half-an-egg or whatever.
My other issue with a lot of brioche bread recipes is that they require a long, slow rise time. And while I have included notes in this recipe for how to do a slow, cold rise, most of the time my ADHD gets the better of me and I don't plan far enough ahead.
So this brioche recipe has a relatively quick rise — about one hour after kneading and then another hour after you shape it, meaning the whole process can be done in about 3-4 hours start-to-finish.
With just 24% butter in the dough, my base brioche recipe makes a soft, pliant, and resilient dough that is really good at holding a lot of different shapes. You can braid it, twist it, roll it, knot it, etc.
For this brioche bread, I decided to go with a pull apart style loaf made of 8 small round balls of dough that join together as they rise. While you can pull apart the segments and butter them or use them to make small sandwiches, I usually cut this brioche loaf into thick slices instead.
Here's what you'll need to make this soft and fluffy brioche bread loaf! See recipe card for quantities.
- All Purpose Flour - No fancy flour needed! I use King Arthur Baking's all-purpose flour which has a slightly higher protein content which makes it a little chewier. If you're using store brand flour, you may see better results with a bread flour. But regular all purpose should work just fine!
- Milk - Whole milk works best — the fat content is an important part of this enriched dough. If you use a reduced fat or skim milk, you may find the dough is too sticky to knead and shape! It will still work, you'll just need to dust in more flour in the mixing stage.
- Large Egg - If you use a different size egg, you may find the dough stickier or drier than it should be. It will still work, you just may need to add more milk or flour in the initial mixing stages! You'll need a second egg to do the egg wash on top, but if you only have one egg and need to skip the egg wash you'll be just fine, the crust just won't be quite as shiny and dark.
- Honey - To sweeten the dough. Yum! It also helps feed the yeast and encourages the bread to rise.
- Instant Yeast - Instant yeast is sometimes also called "rapid rise," "quick rise," or "bread machine" yeast. See "substituting active dry yeast" below for how to substitute active dry yeast.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which half as salty as other brands. As long as you measure your salt by weight, it doesn't matter what brand or type of salt you use. If you're measuring by volume, cut the amount of salt in half.
- Unsalted Butter - Make sure your butter is softened truly to room temperature. The colder and firmer your butter is, the longer it will take to incorporate into the dough.
Other Brioche Loaf Flavorings: You can add the zest of an orange or lemon to the dry ingredients, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the wet ingredients, up to 2 teaspoons ground spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc. to the dry ingredients. You can even use flavored herb compound butters (omit the salt) in place of plain unsalted butter, as long as you make sure the total weight of butter is the same as the recipe calls for.
🍽 Mise en place (aka "the setup")
Mise en place is a French culinary term which literally translates to "putting in place."
It basically means: Measure all your ingredients and make sure you have all the right tools and equipment ready to go when you need them before you start working.
This can make a huge difference in a) how enjoyable you find the baking and cooking process and b) the success of your recipe!
Here's the mise en place you'll need for this recipe:
- Soften the butter - The best way to soften butter to room temperature is to leave it out for 1-3 hours (overnight if it’s very cold in your kitchen). But if you don't remember to do that, you can microwave the wrapped stick of butter for 4 seconds per side. The butter should still feel cool to the touch, but soft enough to press a finger into.
- Warm the Milk - Microwave the milk in 10-15 second bursts in the microwave until it is warm to the touch but not hot (95°F).
- Bring the egg to room temperature - Submerge the egg in very hot water for 5-10 minutes.
How to Make Brioche Bread Dough
Brioche dough is enriched with fat from butter, milk, and eggs, as well as sugar from the honey. The milk, eggs, and honey are more liquid than solid, so they get mixed and kneaded with the dry ingredients first.
The butter is added after the dough has been mixed and kneaded once because it's a solid fat; If you include it from the start, it will coat the other ingredients and make it harder for them to absorb the liquid from the milk and eggs.
- Mix the dough - Whisk the dry ingredients together, then whisk the wet ingredients together (except for the butter) and pour them into the dry ingredients. Mix everything together on low speed with a dough hook until it comes together in one mass on the dough hook and there aren't any dry bits of flour left in the bottom.
- Knead the dough - Increase the speed and mix on medium (speed 3-4 on KitchenAid) until the dough passes the "windowpane test" (see gifs below). You may need to slowly drizzle in an additional 1-2 teaspoons milk or dust in some flour to get the dough to be soft, smooth, and stretchy. If the dough hasn't reached windowpane after about 7 minutes, drizzle in an additional ¼ teaspoon milk at a time while kneading, giving it time to incorporate before adding more, then cover the dough and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Knead 2-3 minutes more. It should get there!
- Add the butter - Add the soft, room temperature butter 1 tablespoon at a time, letting it fully incorporate between each addition. This can take up to 10 minutes, be patient.
- Knead the dough - Once the butter has been added, knead the dough again on medium speed until it passes the "windowpane test" a second time. This can take another 5-7 minutes!
After mixing, before kneading.
After kneading, before adding butter.
After adding butter and kneading. So smooth!
Each time you add a new piece of butter, the butter will smear all over the walls of the bowl and coat the outside of the dough. Your dough may fall apart a little bit and spid the butter out as it slides around in the bowl.
The brioche dough might even fall off the dough hook completely. Just let the mixer keep running (or pause the mixer, gather the dough back into a ball, and then keep going) and it will come back together.
You're asking the gluten network to incorporate quite a lot of fat each time you add a new chunk of butter — be patient!
At the end of each mixing stage, the dough will be slightly tacky to the touch, but should clear the sides of the bowl. If the dough is super sticky, you can dust in more flour. If the dough is super dry, you may need to drizzle in more milk.
Once you pass the windowpane test (see below) a second time, then it's time to let the dough rise.
Passing the Windowpane Test
The "windowpane test" is a way of checking how well developed the gluten network in your dough is.
Tear off a tiny piece of dough, about the size of a grape. Coat it with flour and use your thumbs and fingers to gently press it into a flat shape from the center out.
When you can stretch it quite thin in the center without it tearing, you've passed the windowpane test.
NOTE: Even dough that passes the windowpane test will tear eventually if you keep stretching it. As long as you get the center thin enough to almost see light through before it tears, you're fine.
The First Rise (Bulk Fermentation)
Once the butter has been incorporated and the dough has passed the windowpane test, it's time to let it rest. It's been through a lot. Resting is important to give the yeast time to feed and the dough time to grow.
Shape the dough into a ball by tucking all the ends under and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the mouth of the bowl and let it rise for about an hour at room temperature (around 72°F).
Kitchen temperature makes a big difference in how quickly your brioche rises. If your kitchen is cold (below 70°F), the butter will be more solid and the dough will rise slowly. If your kitchen is warm (above 75°F), the butter will be very warm and the dough will rise quickly.
During this first rise, the dough will double or almost triple in size.
To check if the dough is ready to shape, gently press a lightly floured fingertip into the top of the dough. If the indentation fills in quickly and completely, it needs more time.
If the indentation it fills in slowly and leaves a slightly visible dent, it's ready to shape.
It's more important that the dough looks and feels right than that a certain amount of time has passed. If the dough is ready a little before an hour or a little after an hour or if the dough needs another 30 minutes to rise, that's just fine.
If the dough completely deflates when you press a finger in, that means it overproofed. Don't panic. Brioche is incredibly resilient. Gently press all the air out, shape it back into a ball, cover it, and let it rest 10-15 more minutes. Then move on to the shaping step.
Shaping A Brioche Loaf
There are a lot of different ways you can shape a brioche loaf. You can tuck in the edges and roll it into a log like in my chocolate chip brioche loaf. You could also braid it and bake it in or out of a loaf pan, or roll and twist it up with all kinds of fillings like I did in my apples and honey babka.
But when I'm making a simple and straightforward loaf of brioche dough that I plan to use for for sandwiches, grilled cheese, etc., I like to use this shaping method which gives it a rounded, heart-shaped top, kind of like sweetheart neckline.
While this shaping method is primarily an aesthetic choice, it's also practical. I've found that dividing and shaping the dough in smaller sections helps reduce air bubbles and gives the crumb inside the loaf a more even texture when it bakes.
Gently deflate the dough to press any giant air bubbles out of it, then turn it out onto a clean counter or work surface to shape.
Weigh the entire batch of dough, then divide it into eight equal portions using your kitchen scale.
Gently flatten each portion of dough, stacking any smaller pieces on top of the larger pieces if needed.
Tuck all the edges up and in across the middle. You can also do this almost like you're kneading the dough into a ball.
Pinch the edges together so you have a smooth side on one side and pinched together seam on the other.
While the first two shaping steps can be done on a very lightly floured surface, the final shaping step should be done on an unfloured surface.
Flour prevents the dough from sticking and in the next step, we're relying on the friction between the dough and the counter to help create tension in the dough.
If the dough is very sticky because its warm in your kitchen and the butter is starting melting, you're better off popping the dough in the fridge for about 10 minutes before continuing rather than trying to flour the counter to prevent sticking.
A little bit of sticking is good! A lot of sticking is not.
Place the seam side against the counter and cup your hand around it with your pinkie flush against the counter. Roll your hand around to tighten the seam at the bottom and smooth out the top.
The "tightened" seam side of the dough ball should look like this. The top side of the dough ball should be nice and smooth — any wrinkles, edges, or folds will be seen on the final loaf.
The Second Brioche Rise
Arrange the eight dough balls in four rows of two (or two rows of four, depending on how you're looking at your loaf pan) in a greased and lined loaf pan.
Cover the loaf pan loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1-2 hours at room temperature, or until the dough balls just about double in size.
- If using an 8x4" loaf pan: You're looking for the tops of the dough balls to be just cresting over the rim of the pan.
- If using a 9x5" loaf pan: You're looking for the tops of the dough balls to be almost reaching or just reaching the top rim of the pan.
Sometimes brioche will develop air bubbles in the outer layer of dough — I usually pop these before I egg wash the dough.
The egg wash seals them shut so you get a nice shiny top on your brioche loaf. It's really up to you if you want to keep them or pop them.
Towards the end of the dough rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Beat an egg with 1 teaspoon milk or water and a pinch of salt in a small bowl to make an egg wash. Brush the top of the loaf with a thin layer of egg wash.
Bake this single loaf of brioche bread at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or to an internal temperature of 200°F.
The brioche bread will be quite a dark golden brown on top when it's done. If you're worried about it getting too dark, you can tent it with foil during the final 10-15 minutes of baking.
Let it cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then remove to a rack to finish cooling completely.
Important: Brioche and Temperature
Temperature is one of the main factors in determining how quickly or slowly your dough rises (proofs). This includes the temperature of ingredients in your dough, as well as the ambient temperature of the room where you are leaving your dough to rise.
- Warm temperatures (75°F and above) increase yeast activity. Warmth also causes the butter in the dough to melt which can make the dough super sticky.
- Cooler temperatures (70°F and below) slow yeast activity. Cold also causes the butter in the dough firm up, which makes the dough easier to shape and handle.
In baking, "room temperature" is generally somewhere around 70-75°F.
Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, and the temperature of your milk and egg, your dough may rise faster or slower, and your dough may reach windowpane stage faster or slower.
Due to the extra weight of the butter on the gluten network, don't worry if your dough needs up to an extra hour of time to rise, especially if your kitchen is cold.
In the case of brioche dough, which has a lot of butter in it, warmer temperatures (even just the warmth from your hands) makes the dough sticker and harder to handle. Dust the dough lightly with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Or pop the dough in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to help the butter firm up before shaping.
Just because your dough isn’t ready at the time estimates given in the recipe, that doesn’t mean it's not working — there might be other temperature factors affecting how quickly or slowly it gets there!
Getting the dough to reach the right stages and look and feel right is more important than nailing the timing.
Cold Proofing Brioche Dough
You can give this brioche dough a long slow rise in the fridge before or after shaping it (or both!). A long cold rise gives the dough more time to develop its flavor and texture.
Brioche dough is incredibly resilient. The dough will be fine in the fridge for up to 48 hours! Make sure it's in a bowl or container that gives it plenty of room to expand.
If refrigerating the brioche after shaping it, give it at least an hour to sit at room temperature before baking. If your brioche dough is too cold when you bake it, it may need a longer baking time.
Gluten and butter firm up in the fridge, so if you're planning on rolling the brioche dough out to make something like babka or cinnamon buns, a cold rise will make the dough much easier to handle as well.
Substituting Active Dry Yeast for Instant Yeast
Active Dry and Instant yeast are both saccharomyces cerevisiae, a single-celled living organism used for leavening bread and doughs.
The only difference between the two types of yeast is that Active Dry yeast granules have a little coating around them which needs to be dissolved to reveal the yeast inside.
Because of this extra little shell around the Active Dry yeast granules taking up space and weight, you'll need to use slightly more Active Dry yeast to get the same effect as using Instant yeast.
To calculate how much Active Dry yeast to use, increase the amount of Instant yeast by 25%. So for this brioche recipe, you'd be using 7.5 grams of active dry yeast (you can round down to 7 grams).
You can use Active Dry yeast the same way as Instant Yeast, by adding it directly to the dry ingredients. However, your dough may take longer to reach windowpane stage or rise more slowly, as the yeast can't start working until the little shells dissolve.
To avoid this delay, stir the active dry yeast into the liquid ingredients instead of adding them with the dry ingredients.
Equipment Notes — Use a Stand Mixer!
You need a stand mixer with a dough hook to make this recipe. You cannot make brioche bread with a hand mixer. And it's very hard to make by hand. I don't recommend it.
If you have a KitchenAid mixer with the tilt head and the bowl that screws in at the base, the motor may struggle with this dough — keep a close eye on it. You may need to hold the bowl in place to make sure it doesn’t unscrew during the kneading process.
If you have a bowl-lift model, still keep an eye on it the whole time it's mixing and kneading. You don't want the mixer to walk itself off the counter!
When making this brioche loaf, you shouldn't need to go above speed 6 on a KitchenAid mixer, whether you're using a bowl-lift or tilt head model.
- Slow = 2-3
- Medium = 3-4
- High = 5-6
If your mixer’s motor feels like it’s overheating, you can pause for 5 minutes and then resume mixing.
KitchenAid's official recommendation is to not use the dough hook on speeds higher than 2, so go at a speed you feel comfortable with. This is unrealistic for brioche, in my opinion. I have always used my machine at higher speeds, but if you don't want to go above speed 2 or 3, just know the mixing and kneading steps will work, they'll just take a lot longer.
For more on using KitchenAid mixers to knead bread dough, including the recommendation to not use the dough hook on speeds higher than 2, check out bread making expert Andrew Janjigian's WordLoaf issue "All Mixed Up (Part 1)."
Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- If you don't reach a perfect windowpane before adding the butter and it's been at least 10 minutes of kneading that's okay — you can go ahead and start adding butter. It won't be a technically perfect brioche, but it will still be delicious!
- If the butter chunks are struggling to incorporate, lightly dust in ¼ teaspoon of flour — it will help the butter cling to the dough. Resist adding more flour unless absolutely needed!
- Some of my recipe testers said their dough doubled in size in an hour, others said it took closer to two hours. Be patient!
I don't recommend it. The fat content in whole milk is super important in an enriched dough like this. If you use a lower fat milk, the dough hydration will be slightly off. You will need to adjust by adding more flour to get the texture of the dough just right and the dough won't be as soft.
In order to make this brioche bread successfully, you need to measure your ingredients by weight. No, unfortunately I cannot convert it to cups for you.
A kitchen scale is more accurate than cup measurements and will give you the right ratio of milk, yeast, salt, honey, butter, and flour so that your brioche dough behaves the way you want it to. Depending on how much you pack the flour in and what brand of measuring cups you’re using, you may be off by 30-50 grams of flour per cup which can make a huge difference in how your brioche bread turns out.
I tested and developed this recipe using weight measurements. If I were to convert it to cups, I would be using Google — just like you would. And since there's no set standard for what "1 cup" of flour weighs, different online converters use different amounts, which means converting the recipe to cups would be very inaccurate.
Basically, if you convert this recipe to cup measurements, do so at your own risk. It will have a higher rate of failure. I don’t recommend it!
There are a few things that can cause this to happen, but primarily it happens to brioche when it is under proofed before baking. The crust will set in place on the outside before the dough inside has finished expanding, causing a torn texture along one or both sides of the loaf around the rim of the pan. It will still be delicious!
Nope! It will make the loaf easier to remove from the pan without having to run a knife around the edges which can tear the delicate crust. But if you don't have parchment paper, greasing the pan well will work just fine too.
Overproofed brioche will be super airy and have lots of large air bubbles especially on the surface of the dough. Overproofing during the first rise is easily fixed: Knock all the air out, knead the dough against the counter to shape it back into a ball, and let it rise until it doubles in size again. Now it's ready to shape. If it overproofs after you've shaped it, I recommend popping the air bubbles on top before you egg wash it and baking it anyway.
TL;DR — Recipe Summary
- Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Use dough hook to mix until combined in a shaggy dough.
- Knead until windowpane stage is reached, adjusting dough as needed.
- Add room temperature butter 1 tablespoon at a time until incorporated.
- Knead until windowpane stage is reached again.
- Cover and rest at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Divide and shape the dough into eight dough balls. Arrange them in the loaf pan in two rows of four. Cover and rest 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350°F. Let cool briefly in the pan, then transfer to cooling rack.
One Loaf of Brioche Bread
- Stand mixer with dough hook (you CANNOT use a hand mixer here)
- Loaf pan (8x4" or 9x5")
For the Dough
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon whole milk
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Mix the dough. Combine flour, salt, and yeast the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. In a separate bowl, whisk together warm milk, honey, and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed (KitchenAid speed 2-3) until the dough comes together in a shaggy messy ball on the dough hook, about 3-5 minutes. The dough will look dry at first, but will hydrate as it mixes. Be patient!
- Knead the dough. Increase speed to medium (KitchenAid speed 4) and knead until the dough passes the windowpane test, about 7-10 minutes. If the dough hasn't reached windowpane after about 7 minutes, drizzle in an additional ½ teaspoon milk while kneading, then cover and rest for 5-10 minutes. Knead 2-3 minutes more. It should get there!
- Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. With the mixer running on medium (KitchenAid speed 4), add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Let each piece fully incorporate before adding more. The dough will look like it is falling apart each time you add more butter, but it will come back together. Pause the mixer to gather the dough around the hook or scrape the butter down into the bowl occasionally as needed. This can take 10-15 minutes. Be patient!
- Knead the dough again. Increase speed to medium-high (KitchenAid speed 5-6) and knead until the dough is smooth, shiny, and passes the windowpane test again, about 5 minutes.
- Cover and rise. Place the dough ball in a lightly greased bowl or container. Cover and let rise 1 hour at room temperature (72-75°F) until just about doubled in size. If not doubled after an hour, let it rise an additional 30-60 minutes until doubled. When you push a finger into it, the indentation should fill back slowly and incompletely.
Assembly and Shaping
- Deflate the dough. Turn dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Use your hands to gently deflate the dough. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces using a kitchen scale (each piece should weigh about 84 grams).
- Shape the brioche loaf. Gently flatten each piece of dough against the counter, stacking any smaller pieces on top of larger pieces if you're combining them. Fold or tuck the edges up across the middle of the dough to create a ball, then pinch the edges together to to create tension and a smooth round top on the other side of the dough. Place the dough down with the smooth side up and the pinched together seam on the counter. Cup your hand around it with your pinkie against the counter and scoot it in circles to tighten the seam and further tighten up the top. Repeat with the remaining 7 pieces of dough, then arrange in a greased and parchment lined loaf pan in two rows of four.
- Final Rise. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until the dough balls have doubled in size (see notes). When you gently poke the top of the dough it should feel soft and springy and the indentation should fill back in slowly but not completely.
- During the last 30 minutes of the dough rising, preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together egg, milk, and salt to make the egg wash.
- Egg wash and bake. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash. Then bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top and an internal temperature of at least 190°F. Check the loaf after 25 minutes; If the top appears to be browning too much, tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the top.
- Cool. Let cool slightly in the pan, then remove to a rack to finish cooling completely.
- For a long cold rise, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before shaping. Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before baking. This loaf is best baked from room temperature.
- If you don't reach a perfect windowpane before adding the butter and it's been at least 10 minutes of kneading that's okay — you can go ahead and start adding butter. It won't be a technically perfect brioche, but it will still be delicious!
- If using active dry yeast use 7.5 grams (round down to 7 grams if you don't have a jeweler's scale). Mix with the warm milk before adding to the dough instead of adding it to the dry ingredients.
- How to tell when the loaf has doubled in size: If using a 9x5" loaf pan, the shaped brioche loaf will just reach the rim of the pan. If using an 8x4" loaf pan, the shaped brioche loaf should be just cresting over the rim of the pan.