Brioche loaf (Dan Lepard)

Extra-rich brioche

Makes 1350g dough
2 x 7g sachets fast-action yeast
50ml warm water
5 medium eggs
575g Italian “00”, or strong white flour
75g caster sugar
2 tsp salt
350g unsalted butter, softened
Extra flour for kneading and shaping
Beaten egg to finish

1 Stir the yeast and water in a mixing bowl, leave for 5 minutes, then whisk in the eggs until smooth. Mix in the flour, sugar and salt, then knead the dough for a minute until smooth (the egg can turn the dough grainy if you don’t). Leave for 10 minutes.

2 The easiest way to mix the butter through the dough is with an upright Kenwood-style stand mixer, but I do it by hand this way. Spread the dough out on a clean worktop, then break the butter into lumps and drop them over the top. It’s advisable to have a scraper ready, as this will get very messy. Work the butter into the dough energetically, scraping and squeezing with your fingers again and again, until you have a smooth mixture. It will take you about 4-5 minutes and there will be an “oh my goodness” moment in the middle.

3 Use the scraper to push the dough back together every so often, then when it is utterly smooth and slightly elastic, scrape it into a ball, scoop it up and return it to the bowl. Cover with clingfilm, refrigerate for 24 hours (the dough keeps chilled for 3-4 days) and relax, as most of the work is done.

4 Line a large, deep loaf tin with non-stick paper. Set aside 500g of dough for the second recipe (or a second smaller loaf) and divide the rest into two equal pieces. Lightly knead and shape them into balls while still cold, place side-by-side in the tin, cover, and leave for 3-4 hours until almost doubled. Chill the risen loaf for 30-45 minutes to firm the exterior, brush with beaten egg, and bake at 200C/180C fan/400F/gas mark 6 for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180C/160C fan/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30-40 minutes to a deep, dark brown. Remove from the tin as soon as it’s out of the oven, and leave to cool on a wire rack.

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