Brioche is a very rich French bread, often served for breakfast or as an accompaniment to tea or coffee. The dough is very soft and delicate, lightly sweetened and rich with eggs and butter. The name is thought to derive from a French verb meaning "to pound," a reference to the tedious process of making the silky smooth dough in the days before powerful mixing machines. Small batches of the dough are difficult to work with, so many recipes make at least two loaves. The leftovers freeze well for later use.
Bake the brioche as directed in your chosen recipe, either as full-sized loaves or as individual rolls. Remove from the oven and place on the cooling rack.
Allow the loaves to cool for 10 to 20 minutes in the pans, or they will not hold their shape. If desired, brush the tops with milk while the loaves are hot, which will keep the crust soft and improves the keeping qualities of the bread. Turn the loaves out onto the wire rack after the waiting time, and allow them to cool completely.
Wrap the cooled loaf in cling film. Press the wrap gently to the surface of the loaf to expel any unnecessary air, but do not pull the film tight as this will deform the soft loaves. For additional protection against the freezer, the loaves may be wrapped with heavy aluminium foil over the cling film.
Place the wrapped brioche in a large, heavy-duty freezer bag. Clear a space in the freezer where the loaf may be frozen upright, without any other items pressing against it, to maintain the shape of the loaf. The loaf is less delicate once frozen, but should still be treated with care.
Thaw the loaf at room temperature, or remove plastic, wrap it in foil and reheat in a gentle oven at 93.3 degrees Celsius (200 degrees Fahrenheit) or less. The thawed loaf will remain soft and fresh for 2 to 3 days, and will make excellent toast for up to a week.
Slice the loaf for individual portions of brioche. Wrap each pair of slices as directed above, and freeze the packages inside a heavy-duty freezer bag. When frozen this way, the slices should be used within 4 to 6 weeks. Alternatively, freeze the unbaked dough. Thaw the dough and give it its final rise in the pan, then bake it fresh.
Things you need
- Brioche dough, for a loaf or individual rolls
- Oven gloves or pot holders
- Cooling rack
- Milk (optional)
- Pastry brush (optional)
- Cling film
- Aluminium foil (optional)
- Heavy-duty freezer bag