We Finally Know If Brioche Is Actually A Bread Or Cake

Any bread lover knows that brioche is one of the softest, richest types out there. In fact, its texture paired with its lightly sweet taste can definitely make you wonder if you're actually eating cake, not bread. So, just to clarify, is brioche cake or bread?

Brioche is actually categorized as viennoiserie, a subcategory of bread that also includes croissants, chausson aux pommes (French for "apple turnovers"), and oranais (apricot-filled pastries). These breads are sweet and made with enriched dough, which refers to a dough made with butter, sugar, eggs, or oil, as well as the typical bread ingredients like flour and yeast. The enriched dough sets it apart from other breads, as the sugar and butter seriously affect the overall consistency. On top of that, brioche often contains milk and sometimes vanilla. The end result is richer than, say, typical white bread. 

As for what separates it from cake, that comes down to the yeast — most cakes do not contain any yeast but rather use leavening agents such as baking powder or baking soda to get it to rise. Plus, even though some brioche recipes contain sugar, the amount is much less than you would find in a cake — a brioche recipe may contain a few tablespoons, while a simple cake recipe will likely call for at least 1 cup. In other words, even though brioche is sweet for bread, it's not quite as sweet as cake.

Brioche can be used for both sweet and savory recipes

Brioche is the perfect candidate for a plethora of sweet recipes. For example, because it's thick and soft, it's often the go-to bread for making French toast. Similarly, brioche is the bread of choice in Tasting Table's French toast waffles recipe, which combines the two popular sweet breakfasts. It can also be made into a dessert bread all on its own simply by adding chocolate, such as in our recipe for chocolate brioche.

On the other hand, brioche can be utilized in recipes that are savory, bringing in just a touch of sweetness to balance everything out. This might mean using it as the bread for a pesto prosciutto breakfast sandwich or to add texture to baked brioche-crusted salmon. Additionally, just as you can add chocolate to make a brioche loaf more dessert-like, you can add ingredients like herbs and garlic to make a more savory loaf.