What Actually Makes An Authentic Brioche?

Brioche is much more than bread. It is a sweet, fluffy loaf of deliciousness that has gained popularity across the United States as people seek to elevate their meals. Found on big box store shelves and in small grocery stores' bakery sections, brioche is no longer only sold in specialty shops or simply as a loaf of bread. In recent years, brioche buns have been baked by several companies for consumers, including St. Pierre, which specializes in all things brioche, including buns, croissants, waffles, bagels, and even chocolate chip brioche loaf. 

Why has brioche become so popular? Delifo explains that it's due to the bread's versatility as well as its sweet taste. It can also be made easily at home. In addition, the bread pairs well with both sweet and savory dishes, such as ham and cheese sandwiches or baked French toast. While brioche may have only become part of the American lexicon in recent years, the word was first used in the 1400s, per Delighted Cooking. However, it's believed the bread itself was first made earlier in history. In addition to being made of certain classic ingredients, brioche also has a traditional shape that is made by baking it in a brioche pan, explains Delighted Cooking. The end result is a load that has a fluted bottom and upper protruding knob.

Sweet or savory

Described as a meeting of bread and cake by Taste of France, brioche is made with sugar, flour, yeast, milk, eggs, and butter. Unlike traditional bread, brioche has a flaky exterior, per Delighted Cooking, and a flavor that is described as rich and sweet. The secret to brioche's richness is found in the large amount of butter used to make the bread, per Taste of France. MasterClass describes how brioche should be made with a substantial amount of eggs. As a result of using large amounts of both butter and eggs, brioche has a golden inside that is moist and a buttery, dark brown crust. 

To make the best loaf of brioche at home, MasterClass advises it's important to add the butter at just the right times. It needs to be added gradually and incorporated into the dough before the next piece of butter is added, per King Arthur Baking. As a result, it can take longer for brioche bread to develop. And indeed, the recipe for brioche from MasterClass includes quite a bit of butter and eggs: 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks) and 5 large eggs, plus an additional egg for the wash.

Whether you make or buy your brioche bread loaves, buns, or croissants, it's best to eat it when it's fresh. Whether you choose to add sweet or savory toppings is entirely up to you.