Unplugged. No-Knead Brioche.

February 7, 2014

in Bread, Eggs, Recipes, Yeast breads

bakedbriochebouleI recently came across a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for no-knead brioche. How could that be, I wondered? Brioche, a classic French dough, gets its especially light and airy texture by vigorously beating and kneading softened butter into an eggy yeast dough. Since I’m staying in a condo with no fancy electric gadgets, I ran to the kitchen to make the brioche.Julia Child, in the introduction to the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, says “Il faut mettre la main a la pate,” which essentially means it’s necessary to use your hands to make dough. So that’s what I did.

The America’s Test Kitchen Recipe calls for bread flour, which I did not have, so I used unbleached all-purpose flour. I had to add more than the recipe called for because all-purpose flour is lower in gluten than bread flour.

I also didn’t have loaf pans to bake the brioche, so I shaped the dough into one big round and baked it in a casserole.

And the result? The brioche texture was tender and light and the dough rose nice and high with medium-size bubbles. Definitely worth making. You have to allow up to 48 hours in the refrigerator for the gluten in the dough to strengthen. This is an essential step for the brioche to end up with its unique texture since you’re not slapping it around on a board or in the bowl of an electric mixer.

Technique-wise, I didn’t manipulate the dough nearly as much as the recipe said to do. Bread dough, if left alone, will spontaneously generate links between the gluten molecules, eliminating the need for kneading.


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Rasmussen February 7, 2014 at 12:34 pm

This sounds great. Would it work as a base for a pannetone, or a similar dessert bread?



Greg Patent February 7, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Yes, Bob, it would. You could use half the dough for a babka, half for a panettone, and you can even make fabulous doughnuts with it. Or even bake balls of dough in muffin cups for a sensational dinner roll. Really no end to the possibilities.


marcellina February 10, 2014 at 5:26 am

Wow, Greg, this looks amazing! I have tried making brioche but I wasn’t totally happy with the result. This is worth a try considering the no-knead method. Thanks for sharing!


Greg Patent February 10, 2014 at 10:23 am

You’ll be happy with this method, Marcellina. It works!


Christy February 19, 2014 at 5:38 pm

I have just finished making this, and oh my, does it have a tender crumb. Quite lovely.


Greg Patent February 19, 2014 at 5:42 pm

So glad you liked it, Christy. That recipe’s a real keeper!


Jenny August 11, 2015 at 7:15 pm

What is i want to replace 50% of the white bread flour by whole wheat flour?


Greg Patent August 11, 2015 at 10:49 pm

I’ve not tried whole wheat flour myself, but I see no reason why 50% won’t work. So try it and let me know your result.


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