A brioche study, recipe: the “generic” brioche (control)

Analysing the impact of the egg-to-milk ratio in brioche formulas

brioche control 1-6

brioche control 1-22

brioche control 1

brioche control 1-3

brioche control 1-4

brioche control 1 2

brioche control 1 2-4


The formula

The recipe shown below will make two 500g loaves. I chose, however, to make half a batch, yielding to a single loaf, which is something I’ll carry on doing over the next experiments, as the kneading time of a half-recipe takes longer when done in a stand-mixer; more on that to come in part two: the method (ingredient list, pastry chef tips and techniques on brioche).

Brioche #1: Control formula

quantity ingredientBAKERS %
1038gtotal weight
70gcaster sugar14%


I haven’t finished writing about the method and techniques associated with rich doughs, so in the meantime, please refer to this article for detailed instructions on how to make brioche.

I ended up making the control brioche twice: after I baked brioche 2, I was amazed by the differences in between the two batches. So much in fact, that I thought something had gone wrong with the control brioche (I mostly suspected slow yeast or underproofing). So I went ahead and made the control brioche again, only to find out the differences were the result of the formula substitutions; and in no way related to the other ingredients or the method.

The difference in crumb colour on the pictures above is due to lighting (natural versus halogen) as I’ve just gotten an industrial halogen lamp so I would be able to take pictures at night – also known as 2pm here, hehe – and I’m still trying to figure it out.


The oven-spring isn’t tremendous.

The crust is very thin and soft. As the loaf cools down, it wrinkles.

The crumb is light and soft, with a slight moistness to it. It’s has a beautiful texture and a lovely chew, almost reminiscent of a doughnut.

This “generic” brioche turned out amazing. I fell in love with its crumb and soft crust. The loaf stayed beautifully soft on the second day too; as we topped it with a thick layer of hjortronsylt [cloudberry jam].
I’ll definitely be making it again and again.

More on a brioche study

A brioche study, part one: the approach
A brioche study, part two: the method (ingredient list, pastry chef tips and techniques on brioche)
A brioche study, recipe: brioche #1, the control
A brioche study, recipe: brioche #2, the almost Chavot-brioche
A brioche study, recipe: brioche #3, the pain au lait
A brioche study, recipe: brioches #4 and #5
A brioche study, part three: impact of the egg-to-milk ratio in rich doughs.
A brioche study, ressources: Brioche in literature.

Explore the feature: A brioche study and follow our discoveries on instagram: #BRIOCHESTUDY.


A brioche study, part one: the approach

Analysing the impact of the egg-to-milk ratio in brioche formulas

In the first part of my forever-unfinished feature How to be a pastry chef? – the checklist, I asked you some questions about brioche with the aim to develop your curiosity and drive you to research important techniques. It went along the following lines:

Do you know brioche dough is an emulsion? Do you treat it as such? Can you knead it by hand or in a mixer without over-heating it? And which temperature should the butter be?

But although these points are fundamental in a technical approach, I’ve since had been absorbed by some other questions that belong to the food science realm.

How do the milk and eggs respectively affect the texture of a brioche? Which kind of flour yield to the softest crumb? And how much butter is too much?

As with any mixture experiment, we have to study each of these variables – liquids ratio, flour properties, butter quantity – separately in order to develop an understanding on how they each have an impact on the finished product.
And for no other reason than it has obsessed me for years, I’ve chosen to start by examining the effect of the egg-to-milk ratio in rich doughs.

Eggs or milk?

If you ask Eric Chavot, a true brioche – or as he would say, une vraie brioche – is made using eggs as the only source of hydration.
And while I’m certain many would agree, the subject of brioche – from its etymology to its formula – has always been a controversial one.


In my kitchen, I tend to use a combination of both eggs and milk; with more or less of each depending on the texture I want to achieve. A knowledge that’s really more empirical than anything; and perhaps, relies a bit too much on wishful thinking.
So today, we will stop counting shooting stars and start analysing percentages. It will take five different loaves. Over two kilograms of flour and perhaps a litre or two of milk. A box of eggs. Most likely two. And hopefully, a few worthy notes that will improve my understanding of rich doughs.


The approach

1. Develop a control formula that will act as a reference point during the experiment.
2. Define the range into which the variables will fluctuate.
3. Establish the method: ingredients (on both quantitative and qualitative – brand, temperature – points of view), process (order of incorporation, kneading time/speed, proofing time/temperature, shaping, baking time/temperature)
4. Make successive batches of brioches, each with a different ratio of egg to milk. All other variables (see method above) remain unchanged.
5. Record the organoleptic properties of each batch:
– texture (our main focus point): thickness/hardness of the crust, crumb appearance and mouthfeel.
– colour: darkness of the crust, tint of the crumb.
– flavour and smell.
I haven’t decided yet on whether or not to include objective qualities – such as: crust thickness in mm, loaf size, or even weight of the baked brioche – to measure the response. Yes, even though this is a matter of mixture design, I mostly want to document the results in a comprehensive yet accessible and home-practicable way.
6. Analyse the results.

brioche paris pastry club

Developing the control formula

I could have used my favourite stand-alone brioche recipe, the one pictured above and which I told you about in Paris Pastry Club and the one I made tropéziennes with.
But out of all my rich dough recipes, it stands out by its high hydration and high fat quantity.

I thus wanted to create a generic rich dough recipe. To do this, I analysed my favourite recipes, ranging from brioche to burger buns, from challah to kanelbullar.
On the table below, you can see the ones that I consider the more relevant, with BRIOCHE 2 being my usual, the one I just mentioned.

Brioches: bakers percentage

 bullarbrioche 1brioche 2brioche 3burger bunsbrioche 4

Note: the hydration values, although inaccurate since milk and eggs don’t hydrate the dough fully (respectively at 87% and 73%), could have also been labelled “liquids”. I did however choose to go with “hydration” for ease of understanding and recipe development.

I then went ahead and calculated an average formula as seen on the table below. And by multiplying the bakers percentages, I got the recipe for two brioche loaves.
As you can notice, some of the measurements would be quite difficult to put into practice, so I used this “average recipe” as a guideline.

Brioches: average

 BAKERS %for two 500g loaves 
flour100%500 g
fat29%143 g
sugar14%65 g
eggs26%128 g
milk34%172 g

The percentages I chose to keep are as such:
– flour 100%
– caster sugar 14%
– milk 30%
– egg 30%
– butter 29%

I then added 3% of yeast and 2% of salt, and our control formula was done.

Brioche #1: Control formula

quantity ingredientBAKERS %
1038gtotal weight
70gcaster sugar14%

This control formula is a perfect starting point as its egg-to-milk ratio is 50%-50%, which will allow us to really analyse its impact on the dough and on the finished brioche.

The mixture design

I have in mind to make 5 different “brioche” recipes. Yes, “brioche” in quotes, as our experiment will range from actual brioche to pain au lait [literally, milk bread].

 1: controlbrioche 2brioche 3brioche 4brioche 5

Here are the different formulas, each associated with a number, which is used as both a name and a rank. We will start with the control brioche 1, move onto brioche 2, and so on.
As you can see above, we’re starting with the most extreme formulas as we might be able to stop our experiment after brioche 3, in the eventuality that the results will have given us enough information about the impact of the egg-to-milk ratio in the dough.
I will, however, most likely still decide to conduct brioche 4 and 5, with my personal recipe collection in mind.



– A clear explanation of mixture design.
– A few notes on brioche.
– A five-minute brioche?

To come

A brioche study, part two: the method (ingredient list, pastry chef tips and techniques on brioche)
A brioche study, recipe: brioche #1, the control
A brioche study, recipe: brioche #2, the almost Chavot-brioche
A brioche study, recipe: brioche #3, the pain au lait
A brioche study, recipe: brioches #4 and #5
A brioche study, part three: impact of the egg-to-milk ratio in rich doughs.
A brioche study, ressources: Brioche in literature.

I hope you’ll like this experiment as much as I do, even the most boring parts. Follow #briochestudy on Instagram for real-time science :)

And, of course, I wish you all the happiest new year! To 2016 and brioches. X


Saffransbullar med mandelmassa

[Swedish saffron and almond buns]

Swedish saffron and almond buns

Sunrise: 9:33 AM
Sunset: 1:28 PM
Temperature: -11.8°C

The Swedish saffron and almond buns you see here were made on the twenty-fourth of November. Perhaps, it was a Tuesday. Or a Monday. But I remember how we made the dough the night before. And topped it with marzipan butter in the morning, just as a trumpet in the distance started playing Christmas melodies. I might have let them overproof as I went for a walk in the snow.

Yes, I might have.

Since then, I’ve made them countless times at the café and twice more at home. For a Christmas fika.


Today, I have a different kind of saffron buns proofing on my kitchen counter: lussekatter. A simple saffron dough, rolled and twirled into shape.
And I’m pretty certain that every house in Sweden also smells like warm saffron. And perhaps, if they’re as lucky as we are, of forest and cinnamon too.
Because it’s St Lucia today. And the third Sunday of advent.

But I’ll have to wait to show you the lussekatter, as the sun set hours ago and it’s now too dark to take pictures.
However, I’m sure that these bullar will make a perfect in-the-meantime treat. And possibly make you wish for a forever in-the-meantime moment.


Saffransbullar med mandelmassa

For these buns, I adapted my usual kanelbullar recipe by adding saffron to the dough. Here in Sweden, saffron is easy to come across and fairly inexpensive – compared to France or the UK. One of the things I find particularly pleasant, is that the saffron comes already ground so you don’t have to infuse it in warm liquid like I’ve been used to with the threads.

If you don’t have any ground saffron, simply bring the milk to the boil and soak/infuse the saffron threads in it for at least 30 minutes. You will have to wait for the milk to be completely cooled down before using in the recipe.

The filling recipe comes from my friend Suss, my one and only reference when it comes to all things related to Swedish baking. She’s an amazing baker and these buns alone prove it!
It’s really straight-forward: butter, marzipan, and the zest of an orange; and yet, it makes for the best saffron buns you’ll ever find.

Saffransbullar med mandelmassa

makes around 14-16

for the saffron dough

530 g strong flour
70 g caster sugar
16 g fresh yeast
10 g sea salt
0.5 g ground saffron
(see note above)
3 eggs (150 g)
190 g whole milk
150 g unsalted butter
, at room temperature

for the almond butter

160 g salted butter, at room temperature
160 g marzipan
zest from 2 oranges

for the topping

1 egg, beaten, to glaze
a handful of pearl sugar

for the syrup

75 g caster sugar
75 g water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar, yeast, salt and saffron. Add the eggs and milk, and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Transfer to a clean work surface and knead by hand for around 20 minutes – if you’re making the dough in a stand-mixer, fit it with the hook attachment and knead on medium speed for around 10 minutes, until the dough detaches from the sides of the bowl and feels: – smooth, elastic and barely tacky. If you take a small piece of dough, you should be able to stretch it into a very thin membrane.

Add the butter in three or four times – if making by hand; if you’re using a stand mixer, add the butter, one small piece at a time continuously until all the butter is in – and knead it in for around 10 minutes. The dough will “split” as you do so and butter will smear over your work surface, but keep on adding butter until it’s all used. Then knead the dough until smooth again. Place in a large bowl, and clingfilm to the touch.

You could proof the dough for 1 hour at room temperature and then place it in the fridge for at least another hour before using it, or refrigerate straight away for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

The next day, get two baking trays ready by lining then with baking paper. Make the almond butter by mixing all the ingredients until smooth and spreadable.

Slightly flour your work bench and tip the dough over. Roll into a 30 x 60 cm rectangle, around 5-6mm thick, with the short end facing you. Spread the almond butter evenly over the lower 2/3 of the dough. Then fold the dough into three, first the top part over the centre, then the bottom (and closest to you) over the rest. You should be left with a 30 x 20 cm-ish rectangle.

Cut 2cm wide strips and roll each into a knot, and place it on the prepared baking tray. Keep on going until all the strips are rolled.

Cover loosely with clingfilm and allow to proof for a couple of hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 185°C.
Brush the top of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer to a wire-rack using a palette knife and allow to cool down slightly.

For extra shiny buns, brush the top of your just-baked bullar with a simple syrup made of equal quantity of sugar and water brought to the boil.

Let me know if you try to make them :) Lots of love, and a wonderful week!

pS. If you want to follow my Swedish Christmas adventures, use #fannysjul on instagram. X

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