Soft, fluffy and buttery brioche rolls. Baked until pillowy in texture, substantial in size and golden brown in colour. Lightly spiced with cardamom and scented with vanilla. Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and brushed with vanilla brown butter mixed with brown sugar glaze and rose petal confiture.
Brioche or a buttery roll?
Same but not the same. In Brioche, the ratio of butter to flour is at 1:2 (100g butter for every 200g flour). The amount of butter makes for its unique pillowy texture and taste. Hydration in Brioche is low (25-30%), only small amount of sugar is added. Some recipes recommend using bread flour, some all purpose flour. For this recipe we stick with all purpose flour (lighter texture) and compensate with short bursts of kneading/rest and refrigeration.
Melted butter, cold butter, soft butter - what kind of butter to use?
The unsalted butter needs to be pliable. Hard but soft enough to work into the dough. Have you ever seen a chef beating cold stick of butter with a rolling pin? That’s the quickest way to make the butter pliable. You can also grate frozen butter some 5 minutes before using - this will ensure butter is pliable and pieces are small enough to be evenly incorporated into the dough.
Fluffy eggs will aerate the dough. Initial short bursts of kneading and rest will allow for gluten formation and will relax the dough for easier incorporation of butter.
Incorporating pliable butter
After initial kneading and dough rest you will incorporate grated, pliable butter. This part is finicky but invested time will give you desired, light texture. Add butter in small portions, mixing on low speed or kneading gently until fully incorporated and before the next addition. This part will take 10-15 minutes. By the end of mixing you will have light, satiny and shiny dough (and fairly sticky!). Proof the dough for 1 hour (find cool place 15-19C) - you don’t want to melt the butter but want the yeast to start working its magic (slowly). After 1 hour - stretch and fold the dough few times. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, when ready - gently degas the dough and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes (you want to bring down the temperature further just before shaping). Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape each into a small ball. Place in the loaf tin or mini loaf tins. You can form round balls or shape a little cauliflower/mushroom shape (narrow leg and slightly puffier head), leaving some 2-3cm space in-between each piece (you will get substantial oven spring with these rolls so don’t place too close). If you work with 10cmx20cm loaf tin (2lb) place 6 rolls per tin and bake 2 separately.
Keep touch time to minimum (melted butter and warm dough = greasy buns). For the second proof - place the tin, loosely covered, in warm place (21C-23C). It's probably best not to use pre-heated oven or other warm places - you want butter to expand slowly. Take it nice and slow - 2nd proof will take 1hr30min to 2 hrs. Bake at high (for brioche to puff up) and then lower the temperature (to avoid drying it out).
Getting the butter right in this recipe and short bursts of dough kneading/relaxing together with temperature control will give you great, bakery-style texture.
These rolls are best enjoyed on the day they are baked. On the second day brioche makes for beautiful French toast or bread and butter pudding.
The glaze from this recipe is optional. It’s so worth it though. We wanted to use it as a glaze and ended up using it as a glaze... and spreading it all over brioche rolls! So delicious.
Brioche rolls recipe
Yield: 8 rolls
Time: 40min prep + 1hr proof (1st) + overnight rest + 15 min prep (shape) + 1hr30min (2nd proof) + 30min baking
Tin: loaf tin (2lb) or mini loaf tins or round spring form (divide into 10 - 6 around the diameter + 4 in the middle).
For yeast proofing:
- 80ml full-fat milk
- 45ml water
- 1 Tbsp (10g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp (5g) sugar
- 1 pack (7g) active dry yeast or 20g bulk active dry yeast
For the dough:
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 4 Tbsps (60g) caster sugar
- 1/2 vanilla pod, seeds (optional)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 480g all purpose flour, sifted
- 1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
- 240g unsalted butter, grated and pliable
For the egg wash:
- 1 egg white, leftover
- 1 Tbsp double cream or milk
- 2 Tbsps sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
For the glaze:
- 30g unsalted butter, browned (will yield 20-25g brown butter)
- vanilla pod, leftover
- 3 Tbsps (45g) demerara sugar
- 2 Tbsps (30ml) water
- 1 Tbsp (40g) smooth rose petal confiture
1. Proof the yeast: In a small pot mix milk, water, flour and sugar. Warm up to 38-40C making sure flour and sugar are fully dissolved. Add yeast and mix briefly. Cover with dry kitchen towel and move to warm place for 15 minutes. After that time you should see the mixture bubbling up. If you don’t - start again (the temperature might have been too low/too high, check bbe date on yeast).
2. Prepare the dough: Mix sugar with vanilla seeds (rub between your finger tips to release aroma). In your main mixing bowl beat eggs and egg yolk with vanilla sugar until fluffy (2 minutes, high speed, whisk attachment). Add proofed yeast, 1/3rd of flour, cardamom, salt and knead on low speed for 1 minute, after that time add the rest of the flour and knead on low speed for 4 minutes. Cover the dough with dry kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes. When ready, knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes and again let the dough rest for 5 minutes. When ready, start adding small portions of butter and knead on lowest speed, incorporating the butter fully before the next addition. It will take some 15 minutes to complete this step. Finicky but will contribute to great texture. When done the dough should be satiny, shiny and smooth (still fairly sticky and that's OK, don't add more flour). Cover the bowl with dry kitchen towel and proof for 1 hr in cool place (15-19C). When ready, stretch and fold the dough few times, cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. Shape: When ready to shape, degas the dough gently and place for 15 minutes into the freezer. Brush baking tin/s generously with butter. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape small balls (or form tree/cauliflower shape - sturdy leg and puffy head). Place in the tin leaving some 2-3cm space in-between each roll. There will be substantial oven spring during baking. Cover loosely with dry kitchen towel, move to warm place (21-23C) and let rest for 1hr 30 min to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan). Gently brush top of each roll with egg wash (mix egg white with cream) just before baking.
4. Bake at 220C (200C fan forced) for 10 minutes, then decrease to 180C (160C fan forced) and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
5. For the glaze: Brown butter, when still hot add leftover vanilla pod and mix to release aroma. Cover with lid and let rest for 10 minutes. In a meantime, in a small pot bring 2 Tbsps of water to boil, add demerara sugar and cook for about 2-3 minutes on low-medium heat until reduced and smooth but still thin (should slowly flow from spoon). Take off the heat, add vanilla brown butter and mix until combined, then add smooth rose petal confiture and mix until smooth and combined. Apply on top of the rolls or use to dip rolls/or as a spread.