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How to Make No-Knead Brioche

Why this recipe works Classic brioche has a tender crumb, an appealing golden color, and a buttery flavor that’s richer than that of any other sandwich bread. But achieving these sumptuous results can cause a butter-induced headache. Typically, the process is laborious: Butter, softened to just the right temperature, is kneaded into the dough in increments. And patience is crucial: Only after one portion is fully incorporated is the next added to ensure that the butter is completely combined and doesn’t cause the dough to separate. We wondered if we could avoid this process and use melted butter. Simply streaming melted butter into the stand mixer gave us a greasy, separated dough that lacked structure. That’s when we thought of the technique we used for our Almost No-Knead Bread, in which we combine all the ingredients and let the mixture sit for hours. This allows the dough to stitch itself together into a loaf with only a bit of stirring and a couple of folds or turns. Happily, this method worked with our rich dough, allowing us to simplify the conventional brioche method dramatically. But the bread did need more structure. Switching from the all-purpose flour that’s used in many recipes to bread flour was a big help. In addition, instead of shaping the dough into a single long loaf, we found that we could add even more strength to the dough by dividing it in two and shaping each half into a ball. Placed side by side in the pan, the two balls merged to form a single strong loaf. The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8½ by 4½ inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, increase the shaped rising time by 20 to 30 minutes and start checking for doneness 10 minutes earlier than advised in the recipe.

  • makes 1 loaf
  • resting time 15 minutes
  • rising time 17½ to 18 hours
  • baking time 35 minutes
  • total time 21 to 23 hours, plus 3 hours cooling time
  • key equipment 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan, pastry brush, instant-read thermometer

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  • 1⅔ cups (9⅛ ounces) bread flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) water, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water and pinch salt

1). Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk eggs, melted butter, water, and sugar in second bowl until sugar has dissolved.

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2). Using rubber spatula, gently fold egg mixture into flour mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl, until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 10 minutes.

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3). Using greased bowl scraper (or your fingertips), fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees and fold dough again; repeat turning bowl and folding dough 2 more times (total of 4 folds). Cover tightly with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding and rising every 30 minutes, 3 more times. After fourth set of folds, cover bowl tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 16 hours or up to 48 hours.

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4). Transfer dough to well-floured counter, divide in half, and cover loosely with greased plastic. Using your well- floured hands, press 1 piece of dough into 4-inch round (keep remaining piece covered). Working around circumference of dough, fold edges toward center until ball forms. Repeat with remaining piece of dough.

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5). Flip each dough ball seam side down and, using your cupped hands, drag in small circles on counter until dough feels taut and round and all seams are secured on underside. (If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust top of dough with flour.) Cover dough rounds loosely with greased plastic and let rest for 5 minutes.

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6). Grease 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan. Flip each dough ball seam side up, press into 4-inch disk, and repeat folding and rounding steps.

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7). Place rounds seam side down, side by side, into prepared pan. Press dough gently into corners. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until loaf reaches ½ inch below lip of pan and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your knuckle, 1½ to 2 hours.

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8). Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Gently brush loaf with egg mixture and bake until deep golden brown and loaf registers 190 to 195 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let loaf cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on wire rack, about 3 hours, before serving.

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problem The loaf lacks an airy interior.

solution Don’t forget to fold the dough.

During this dough’s long refrigerator stay, the enzymes present in the flour untangle the proteins without kneading to encourage the gluten network to stitch itself together. But the dough still requires some manual manipulation to build the strength necessary for an airy crumb. Folding encourages the gluten to form and ensures that the no-knead method is successful.

problem The loaf lacks structure.

solution Shape the dough balls twice.

To build strength in this dough, instead of placing a single loaf in the pan we divide the dough in half and shape the halves into tight, round balls that we place side by side in the pan to encourage structure. But this still isn’t quite enough. Let the dough balls rest and then flatten and re-form them; even this little bit of extra manipulation yields a crumb that is much more fine and uniform.

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