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Sourdough Brioche

This Sourdough Brioche recipe is simple (only 7 ingredients required!), but results in a pillowy soft and delectable loaf!

A loaf of sourdough brioche bread on a black wire cooling rack.

Y’all.

This is about my favorite sourdough recipe that I’ve created so far.

Today I’m going to show you exactly how to make this divine loaf of sourdough brioche.

But first, let’s go into a little nerdy background info…

Table of Contents:

 

Sourdough brioche bun bread with a section taken out.

What is Brioche?

Brioche is an enriched yeasted bread that contains copious amounts of butter and eggs, plus a bit of milk and a smidge of sugar. 

It’s kind of like a cross between a pastry and a bread, and it is heavenly.

Where Does it Come From?

Brioche is actually in a category of French baked goods known as Viennoiserie, which means “things from Vienna.” 

But an Austrian military officer brought this style of baked good to France when he opened a bakery in Paris in the 1830s.

So brioche is kind of Austrian, but commonly known as French.

It’s a bridge between pâtisserie and boulangerie (styles of French baked goods) if you want to get technical.

How to Pronounce Brioche

As far as I can tell, brioche can be pronounced either “bree-ahsh” (with a short “o” sound) or “bree-ohsh” (with a long “o” sound). 

When I’ve listened to videos of native French speakers, it kind of sounds like a blend of a long and short “o” sound.

Any native French speakers can correct me in the comments!

A loaf of sourdough brioche bread on a black wire cooling rack.

Is it Sweet?

While the dough does contain some sugar, the overall flavor profile isn’t really sweet.

You can brush the outside of the baked loaf with a simple syrup (more on that later) to give it an extra hint of sweetness.

Is Sourdough Brioche Bread Healthy?

This is where opinion really comes into play.

I personally think sourdough brioche bread is healthy because the grains are “pre-digested” by the wild yeast. 

Also, if you use pastured eggs and grass-fed butter and milk, this can be quite nourishing.

Is Challah Bread the Same as Brioche?

No, it’s not quite the same. Challah is very similar to brioche, but challah is actually dairy free and brioche definitely is not. 

Also, challah is of Jewish origin, whereas brioche is considered French.

How to Make Sourdough Brioche Bread

Okay, let’s dive in and I’ll show you how to make it!

A mature sourdough starter that's been fed and is bubbly and active.

Let’s talk sourdough starter for a minute.

Feed your starter about 8-12 hours before mixing together the dough. 

You’ll know that your starter is ready to use when it doubles, is active and bubbly, and passes the float test.

To perform the float test, drop a small piece of your starter in a glass of room temperature water. If it floats, it passes!

For this recipe you’re going to use more starter than you normally would for sourdough bread.

This will help to ensure a high final rise.

Also, since dairy products (e.g. milk and butter) tend to slow down the fermentation process, the extra starter will counteract that.

I have heard of people using sourdough discard to raise bread, but that isn’t how I tested this recipe. Basically, you think of making the bread as feeding your non-active starter. However, this would alter the rise time, and could result in a very sour bread.

NOTE: I keep my sourdough starter at 100% hydration, which means that I feed it equal weights, not volumes, of flour and water.

 

Mixing the Dough

Adding the milk, starter, and eggs to the stand mixer bowl.

Place 1/3 cup whole milk, 2 cups (480 grams) of active sourdough starter, and six eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer.

At this point you might be wondering why you thought putting 6 eggs into a bread dough was a good idea.

Trust.

 

Adding the flour and sugar to the stand mixer bowl.

Add 4 cups (565 grams) of organic all purpose flour and 2 tablespoons (20 grams) of organic cane sugar.

 

After 5 minutes of kneading.

Knead for 5 minutes on medium low using the dough hook, just until the dough comes together.

I personally don’t let my brioche autolyse, because I haven’t felt the need.

But you can always let it rest for 30 minutes at this point to give the flour an extra chance to hydrate before adding the salt and butter.

 

Adding the salt to the sourdough brioche dough.

Add 1 tablespoon (11 grams) of unrefined sea salt.

I use Redmond Real Salt for all of my sourdough bakes.

 

Slowly adding the butter a tablespoon at a time.

Turn the mixer on and gradually add a cup of softened unsalted butter, one tablespoon at a time.

Don’t add the next tablespoon of butter until the previous one is kneaded in.

By the way, make sure your butter is the proper temperature.

You don’t want it so soft that it’s almost dripping. But you also don’t want it so cold that it won’t mix in easily. 

 

Kneading the dough for 15 more minutes.

Continue kneading the dough for another 15 minutes after all of the butter is incorporated.

 

Doing the windowpane test on the sourdough brioche dough.

You’re looking for the dough to pass the windowpane test.

Stretch it out until you can see light through it.

If the dough breaks and rips apart before you can pull it that thin, it has to be kneaded longer.

Yes, this is a very long knead time. About 25-30 minutes in total.

But keep going until you’ve reached windowpane, or at least very nearly!

First Rise (Bulk Rise)

The ball of dough placed in a greased bowl.

Grease a large lidded bowl and scrape the dough into it.

 

Putting the lid on the mixing bowl.

Cover with a lid and allow to ferment at room temperature for 1 hour.

After that hour, place the dough in the fridge for 12 hours.

 

The bulk risen sourdough brioche dough.

The dough will puff up some, but it won’t double during those 12 hours in the fridge.

Forming the Sourdough Brioche Loaves

Greasing two loaf pans: one stainless steel, and the other glass.

Grease two loaf pans and set them aside.

NOTE: I much prefer my larger Pyrex loaf pan over this smaller stainless steel one. 

The glass tends to brown the bottom of the loaf more readily.

It also releases the baked loaf from the pan more easily.

And it’s just a better size for this sourdough brioche loaf.

I should really purchase another one so I don’t have to settle for my stainless steel pan!

 

Dividing the dough in half.

Weigh the entire ball of dough. Divide that weight by two, and split the dough in half for the two loaves.

I’m going to show you two ways to form these loaves: braided and bun bread style.

Traditionally brioche is formed into a knot instead of a braid, but this style is more practical for home bakers.

 

Greasing the work surface with avocado oil spray.

Grease your work surface.

You can rub some butter on it, or you can spray it with avocado oil spray.

 

Braiding the brioche sourdough bread.

Braided Loaf

Divide half of the total weight of the dough into thirds, and weigh out the dough.

For example, if your total dough weight is 1660 grams, half of that would be 830 grams, and a third of that would be 276.66 grams. So each piece should weigh about 276-277 grams.

Am I making sense?

Roll each piece of dough into a log that’s 12 inches long and tapered on one end. I find it’s easiest to squeeze the dough out with your hands instead of rolling it on the counter.

Pinch the far ends of the dough logs together.

Grab the left log and fold it over into the middle. 

Grab the right log and fold it over into the middle.

 

Pinching the ends of the braid to secure.

Repeat the braiding process until you get to the end. 

Pinch the ends of the logs together to seal.

 

Tucking the sourdough brioche braid into the greased loaf pan.

Tuck the braid into the greased loaf pan.

 

Forming the brioche sourdough bun bread.

Bun Bread Loaf

Take the weight of half of the entire dough ball and divide it by 6.

Using the same example as before, half of the entire weight would be 830 grams, so each piece of dough should weigh about 138-139 grams (830 divided by 6 equals 138.33).

Form each piece of dough into a ball by pinching the ends into the middle and rolling it, seam side down, on the counter.

Watch the video below to see this demonstrated.

Stagger the dough balls in the loaf pan. This creates a neat, almost braided look.

 

Second Rise

The risen loaves of sourdough brioche.

Cover the loaves with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm spot until they puff up over the sides of the loaf pans.

Since this brioche is risen with sourdough starter, the amount of time it takes to proof adequately varies greatly.

If you have a really warm kitchen, they may puff up in just 2 hours!

Or, if you have a really chilly kitchen, it may take 8 or more hours.

Be patient, and let this sourdough brioche do its thing!

Egg Wash

Whisking together an egg plus a tablespoon of water to brush on top of the loaf.

You can achieve that nice, deeply brown, shiny crust that’s so iconic to brioche in a couple of ways.

One simple way is to brush the top of the loaves with an egg wash before baking.

Whisk together one egg and one tablespoon of water until uniform.

 

Brushing the top of the bun loaf with the egg wash.

Brush the top of the risen loaf with the egg mixture. Get into all the nooks and crannies!

Baking

The baked loaves of sourdough brioche cooling on a wire rack.

Half an hour before the loaves are done rising, preheat your oven to 375° F (190° C).

Bake the loaves for 35-40 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the middle of the loaf registers 190-195° F (88-90° C).

The bread should be deeply golden brown.

Here you can see the difference between the bread baked with an egg wash (left) and the one without (right).

 

Simple Syrup Wash

A jar of vanilla simple syrup.

But here’s another way you can get that dark, shiny crust: Simple Syrup!

To make a vanilla simple syrup (heavenly on this sourdough brioche!), bring 2 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of sugar to a boil.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extra.

Boom. Vanilla simple syrup!

 

Brushing the warm loaf with the vanilla simple syrup.

Brush that all over the top of the warm, just-from-the-oven loaf.

 

A side view of a loaf of sourdough brioche bread with a slice taken out.

Do your absolute best to wait at least an hour before slicing into this loaf.

It’s going to be difficult.

Stay strong!

But when you do finally slice into this sourdough brioche, you’ll see why all of that butter and kneading and fermenting were worth it.

So worth it.

How to Eat Sourdough Brioche

A toasted slice of sourdough brioche bread with melted butter and fig jam.

Of course you can simply slice, butter, and eat.

But you’re going to die of happiness when you try this toasted with butter and jam.

It’s also makes top-notch cinnamon toast: slather it with butter, sprinkle with a little brown sugar and cinnamon, and do a happy, giddy dance after you take your first bite.

If you have any leftovers the next day, you can turn it into brioche French toast. It is phenomenal. 

Leave me a comment and I’ll give you my easy (unofficial) French toast recipe!

 

A loaf of sourdough brioche bread on a black wire cooling rack.

Sample Baking Schedule

Here is a sample baking schedule that works well for me.

Day One:

11:30 AM: Feed your sourdough starter and set in a warm spot in your kitchen.

7:30 PM: Mix together the dough. Let sit on the counter for 1 hours, then put it in the fridge overnight for 12 hours.

Day Two:

9:00 AM: Form the loaves and allow to rise at room temperature.

1:00 PM (Or whenever they are done rising): Bake loaves. Allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing.

Do I need to use organic flour?

While not completely necessary, I highly recommend using organic all purpose flour in this recipe.

You want to treat your wild yeast gently, and adding a bunch of pesticides and bleach can adversely affect it. 

Can You Make Sourdough Brioche Without Sugar?

Technically yes, but I recommend leaving in the 2 tablespoons of sugar. 

That bit of sweetness tends to counterbalance the tang of the sourdough, and it also speeds up fermentation.

Video Demonstration:

More Sourdough Recipes:


A loaf of sourdough brioche bread on a black wire cooling rack.
4.12 from 9 votes
Print

Sourdough Brioche

This brioche is made with sourdough starter for healthy fermentation and a bit of tangy flavor!

Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine French
Keyword bread, Sourdough
Prep Time 19 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 loaves
Calories 178 kcal
Author Erica Kastner

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 1/3 cup whole milk (83 grams)
  • 2 cups active, unfed sourdough starter (480 grams)
  • 6 whole eggs (307 grams)
  • 4 cups organic all-purpose flour (565 grams)
  • 2 tbsp organic cane sugar (20 grams)
  • 1 tbsp unrefined sea salt (11 grams)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened but still a little firm

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the milk, sourdough starter, eggs, flour, and sugar. Knead on medium-low using the dough hook for 5 minutes.

  2. With the mixer still running, add the salt.

  3. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, waiting until the previous tablespoon has been kneaded in before adding the next one.

  4. Continue to knead the dough for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until it passes the windowpane test. Grab a piece of the dough and stretch it out. If you can see light through it before it tears, it passes!

  5. Scrape the dough into a greased glass bowl. Cover and allow to ferment at room temperature for 1 hour. Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for 12 hours.

  6. Grease two 9x5-inch glass loaf pans. Set aside.

  7. Divide the dough in 2 and form each half into a loaf. You can braid the loaves or form them into 6 individual buns. I personally recommend braiding them.

  8. Tuck the loaves into the prepared loaf pans. Cover and allow to rise until they puff up over the edges of the pans, about 2-8 hours.

  9. 30 minutes before the loaves are done rising, preheat your oven to 375° F (190° C).

  10. If you'd like to do an egg wash, whisk together the egg and water. Brush on top of the risen loaves.

  11. Bake in preheated oven until the loaves are deeply golden and an instant read thermometer inserted in the center registers 190-195°F (88-90°C), about 35-40 minutes.

  12. Remove loaves to a wire cooling rack. Cool for at least an hour before slicing.

Recipe Notes

  • You can also brush the tops of the loaves with a simple syrup (vanilla is very nice) after they come out of the oven in lieu of an egg wash.
  • To make a vanilla simple syrup, simply bring 2 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.

 

Recipe Rating




Patricia Swanson

Wednesday 22nd of December 2021

Aurora, Colorado elevation 5386 feet ASL

When I fed my starter seven hours before I intended to make this recipe for my first time, I put it into the oven with the light on as I keep my house very cool-like 63. I checked in an hour or so and it was going to town. Before I was ready to use it, I had to stir it down twice. All in all, I found this recipe delightful. My new Kitchenaid 8 quart mixer was just what I needed. I had been waiting for it to arrive to make this bread. Due to some commitments during the mid day on baking day, I let the dough stay in the refrigerator for a total of 17 hours. Obviously, that didn’t have any harmful effects.

I studied your photos to be sure I was letting it rise long enough. I may have shorted it a bit, but I was in total shock with the oven spring I got. WOW! I used an 8” brioche pan for one of the loaves. For the other, I had a smallish Pyrex glass loaf pan. I tried doing the Tete top on the brioche loaf. I probably got too much dough for that and it expanded to be like a concussion on a head! But, it was tall and browned beautifully.

I just sliced some 12 hours after baking and sitting on the counter overnight. It was wonderful. Light and airy, tiny sourdough bubbles throughout were present.

I can’t thank you enough for the detailed recipe and courage to try this. Next time, to add a savory taste, I will sprinkle in some dried herbs for a dinner bread. This one, I wanted for breakfast, so kept it plain.

Erica Kastner

Wednesday 22nd of December 2021

Thank you so much for sharing your notes and how it worked out for you! So happy you enjoyed it! Yes, isn't sourdough brioche just amazing?!

Ashley

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

I’m wondering which measurements you typically go by. Grams or cups. Because it says 2 cups or 480 g of starter. For me, 100% hydration at its highest fermentation point, I ended up adding about 400g by weight and that was more than 3 cups of starter. It was super bubbly but even just adding 400g it seemed so sticky, more like batter than dough. So I added extra flour. We will see how it turns out. I’m almost worried my scale was off or something

Erica Kastner

Wednesday 22nd of December 2021

If you go by cups, you'll need to stir the starter down first to get an accurate measurement. Otherwise it will have too much air and you won't get an accurate measure. I definitely recommend using a scale, though! It's much more accurate. As for stickiness, there are a few things that could affect that. What was the temperature of your butter? If it's too soft, the dough will be softer. Also, what brand of flour did you use? I've had readers tell me that when they use a lower quality flour, the dough doesn't come together, but when they switch to a higher quality it works! Is is possible that your flour has a lower gluten content?

Rita

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

This recipe was very difficult to manage. The dough never came together. I baked it nonetheless and it was super dense. I halved the recipe and wonder if that was the cause. Thank you.

Erica Kastner

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

I'm sorry this didn't work out for you! It sounds like there was something going on with your starter, or your flour wasn't high enough in protein to properly create the long strands of gluten needed to get a high rise. Hopefully you don't give up on sourdough brioche - it's amazing!

Amber

Wednesday 17th of November 2021

Hi....I'm a sourdough bred maker for the last 5 years and this is my 1st attempt at Bioche. I'm on my second rise now, can't wait to see how it turns out! Thanks for the recipe and advise!

Hannah

Friday 29th of October 2021

Hi Erica, I was planning on making this recipe today, but I misread it and only have 450g of starter ready! Can I still proceed, but maybe leave it to proof longer to compensate for the smaller amount of starter? I really had my heart set on starting it tonight. Can’t wait to try it!

Erica Kastner

Saturday 30th of October 2021

Sorry I didn't see this until now! It should still work since that's only 30 grams less. Make sure to keep an eye on the texture of the dough, adjusting with more flour or water if needed!

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