This past weekend we had our first visitor to our new house – my sweet sister Andrea. It was so wonderful to have her in Chicago! I wanted to have a cheese and charcuterie board ready for her when she came since it is one of her and Kevin’s favorite things to share. I had everything I needed for the board besides some beautiful bread. There are so many places near us to find a great loaf of bread, but I decided that I wanted to make something special to celebrate her coming. I looked through some magazines I had saved and some cookbooks and landed on the cheese and rosemary brioche from the Bake from Scratch Bread 2018 magazine that I have been storing for a while. As usual, I didn’t quite have everything that I needed when I decided to begin baking, so I strayed a little from the recipe but I think that it turned out amazingly well! Unfortunately, the cheese and charcuterie board never quite came together because happy hour started too early and Andrea’s flight was delayed, so take-out saved the night for everyone, but the brioche loaf didn’t last the night!
*Just a quick note – this recipe was started Thursday night and finished Friday so unfortunately the photos from Thursday night are not the best ever- sorry!*
To begin this recipe, I added 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of instant dry yeast to the bowl of my stand mixer while I heated 1/3 cup of whole milk to 100 F degrees. I added the milk to the bowl and used the paddle attachment to mix everything gently together. I left the mixture to begin to get foamy. This makes sure that the yeast is active and still alive. Then I added 1 1/2 cups of bread flour and 5 room temperature large eggs to the bowl of the stand mixer. I beat it all together on medium-low speed for about 2-3 minutes or until it was very smooth. Then I removed the paddle attachment and covered the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand for 30 – 45 minutes until it begins to bubble.
I switched the paddle out for dough hook on the stand mixer and added 1 3/4 cups of bread flour and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to the bowl. I kneaded the mixture for 10 minutes until the dough was smooth and elastic and mostly pulled away from the sides of the mixer bowl. Then with the mixer on medium speed I began slowly adding the 1 cup of soft unsalted butter to the dough one tablespoon at a time.
This is where I have always messed up in the past. The butter takes a long time to mix into the dough at the beginning. It kind of sloshes around the bowl and the hook dances on top of the dough. DO NOT ADD MORE FLOUR! Just give it time and stop the mixer as needed to move the butter to the center of dough hook. This will help it to mix in. Once the butter seems to disappear, add the next tablespoon and continue on until all the butter is added. The second to last photo shows how even when half of the butter is added the dough hook still rests slightly on the top of the dough, but once it is all added the dough is soft and you can see the long strands of tender dough stretched over the hook.
Once all the butter is added, the finished dough is scraped out of the mixing bowl and added to a large bowl that has been sprayed with a neutral oil (I used grapeseed oil). I covered it and put it in my oven on the proof setting to rise for 45 minutes, which helped it to double in size. If you do not have a proof setting, you can let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size – usually 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. After it has doubled in size, I punched the dough down a few times and then folded the dough over to knead it in the bowl a few times. I re-covered the bowl again and placed it in the fridge overnight to let it rise again slowly and develop flavor.
On Friday morning, I pulled the dough out of the fridge, where it had doubled in size again, I let it warm up a little bit on the counter and then dumped it onto my dough mat that I sprayed with grapeseed oil. I flattened it out with my hands and added a wedge of Saint Andre triple-cream cow’s milk cheese that I cut the skin off of and chopped into chunks. Then I added 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme on top (I already had thyme in the fridge so I decided to use it instead of rosemary as the recipe originally stated). Next, I rolled the dough up to fold in the cheese and thyme. I flattened it out, then rolled it and flattened it again.
Next, I divided the dough into three equal parts. I carefully stretched and rolled the dough out. Then I braided the dough – another thing that can use some more practice – I placed the dough into a bundt pan that I sprayed with Pam for baking. I used this spray because it has flour in it already. I tucked the ends in under each other and covered the pan with plastic wrap to let it rise on the counter for 1 hour. I decided to not use the proof setting because I didn’t want to melt the cheese.
I preheated the oven to 350 F degrees and after the bread had doubled in size again, I put it in the oven to bake for 30 minutes. I took the temperature of the bread after 30 minutes and it was 142 F degrees in the middle. I covered it with foil so that it didn’t burn baked it for 15 more minutes and then took the temperature again and it was 196 F degrees (I was looking for at least 190 F degrees). I let the bread rest for 10 minutes and then turned it out on a cooling rack to let it cool off for about 10 more minutes.
The recipe directions say to serve the bread warm and so I just HAD to take a slice out and try it before Andrea arrived. Trust me when I say – this was seriously such a delicious bread! It was buttery and soft with rich cheese swirled in and bright spots of thyme splashed through the loaf. It would make a delicious addition to any dinner meal or special spread of food.
- I am wondering if this would be better braided and baked on a baking sheet instead of in a bundt pan to allow more sids of the bread to get crisp. The edges in the bundt pan were a little softer than I wanted them to be.
- I think that this could handle even more thyme than I put in, it would add a little more flavor variety in the bread, even though it is amazingly it could be a little rich at times.
- I’m so happy that I actually followed the recipe and waited it out to let the butter continue to incorporate slowly – it made the softest and loveliest bread – thank you Great British Bake Off Masterclass!
Recipe: Braided cheesy brioche with thyme
- 1/3 cup of whole milk heated to 100 – 110 F degrees
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
- 3 1/4 cups bread flour divided into 1 1/2 cups and 1 3/4 cups
- 5 large room temperature eggs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup softened unsalted butter
- Neutral oil (I used grapeseed oil spray)
- 1 wedge Saint Andre triple-cream cow’s milk cheese (or other double cream) – slice the skin off and cut it into chunks
- 2 – 3 tablespoons thyme
- In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the sugar, yeast, and warmed milk. Mix and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- Add 1 1/2 cups bread flour and 5 eggs to the bowl and mix on medium low for 2 – 3 minutes until the mixture is super smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let it stand and rest for 30 – 45 minutes. The mixture will begin to start bubbling.
- Switch the paddle attachment to the dough hook and then add the kosher salt and the 1 3/4 cups bread flour to the bowl and mix at medium speed for about 8 – 10 minutes or until the mixture forms a smooth and elastic dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- While the mixer is still on medium, begin adding the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. It will be a slow process and you may need to stop and scrape the butter back to the middle of the dough hook. Do not add the next bit of butter until the first is mixed in. The dough will be soft and silky when finished.
- Spray a large bowl with oil and scrape the dough into the bowl being sure to cover the top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise on the counter or in the oven on the proof setting until it has doubled in size. (1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours on the counter or 45 minutes in the oven.)
- Punch down the dough slightly and knead it a few times in the bowl. Recover the bowl and place it in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight if possible.
- After the dough has doubled in size in the fridge, pull the bowl out an let it warm up on the counter. Spray oil on a dough mat and dump the dough out and flatten it. Add the cheese and thyme to the dough. Roll it from one end to the other and then flatten it out. Roll it again and then flatten. Divide the dough into three parts and roll and stretch it out into three ropes.
- Spray a bundt pan with baking spray or butter and flour it. Braid the ropes together and place it in the bundt pan while tucking the ends under each other. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it rise on the counter for 1 hour until it has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
- Put the loaf into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Cover the pan with foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the center of the loaf reaches at least 190 F degrees.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then turn out. Cool for an additional 10 minutes and then slice and serve warm.
Recipe adapted from Bake from Scratch Bread 2018 issue of Cheese and Rosemary Brioche