No one would guess that this beautiful, buttery, incredibly delicious Pull-Apart Brioche Bread is super easy to make with just one bowl and no mixer!
I started making this Pull-Apart Brioche Bread last year around Christmas time and filled the freezer with loaves of it to serve with holiday meals. It was a whimsical adaptation of our Overnight No-Knead Brioche Bread. Family and friends went crazy over it and everyone loved that they could tear off their own little piece (or pieces).
After the holidays I continued to make this delicious Pull-Apart Brioche Bread and enjoyed pairing it with all of our favorite soups, including this delicious Thai Broccoli Spinach Soup...
... and lots of hearty comfort foods like this fabulous Slow Braised Italian Beef Stew.
This summer it's been great to serve with salads and wonderful to pull out of the freezer and pop in the oven for a quick accompaniment for dinners from the grill and special breakfasts with the grandchildren. This delicious Pull-Apart Brioche Bread has become such a popular staple for us that as soon as my freezer supply is depleted, I throw together another batch, since it's super easy with just one bowl, no mixer and no rolling.
And though the recipe takes a few hours, from start to finish, most of that time is hands-off, while the dough does its own thing on the countertop.
I love how the buttery crust gets nice and crisp and the interior is tender with a touch of sweetness.
What is Brioche Bread?
Brioche bread is a French-inspired bread, but is quite different than the well-known classic French baguette. It's an enriched bread and, besides flour, salt and yeast, brioche bread also contains butter and eggs, giving it a super tender crumb and beautiful golden hue.
How do you make brioche bread? It can be quite complicated, involving a mixer, lots of kneading, rolling the dough into long strands and then braiding the strands before a final rise. Not so with this Pull-Apart Brioche Bread. As mentioned above, there's minimal hands-on time and no mixer, no kneading and no rolling. Let's check out how it's done! We took some pics of the parts of the process that might be new to you.
Steps to making this Pull-Apart Brioche Bread
- Generously butter 4 small bread pans. Set aside.
- Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center.
- Melt butter in the microwave, then add milk and eggs and stir to combine.
- Add the butter mixture and hot water to the bowl with the flour and stir until all the flour is incorporated.
- Cover the bowl and let the dough rise while you go about your business.
- Once the bread has nicely risen, turn it out onto a floured work surface and turn it a few times to coat with flour.
- Using a dough scraper or a sharp knife, cut the dough into four fairly equal portions.
- Now roll each of the quarters to coat with the flour. Working one at a time, cut each quarter into 8 pieces. It's fine if you don't get them all the exact same size.
- Coat each piece with a little flour then form them into balls, again, this doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, the more imperfect the pieces are, the prettier and more whimsical the finished bread will be!
- Now just flatten each ball with the palm of your hand then spread it out a bit with your fingers.
- Spread a half teaspoon of soft butter on one of the flattened circles.
- Then fold the buttered circle in half.
- And place it in the pan with the open edges up and the folded edge down.
- Continue with the remaining seven dough balls, stacking them side by side as you go.
- Fill the pan with the eight folded circles of dough.
- Repeat the process to fill all four pans.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel to let the dough rise. It will take 30-40 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
- Now you're ready to bake!
So that's the process. You'll love the wonderful aroma as the Pull-Apart Brioche Bread bakes and will have to practice patience and discipline to let the beautiful loaves cool a bit before diving into them. The loaves are fabulous for dinner, rewarmed for a short time in the oven and served in a pretty breadbasket. They are also wonderful for breakfast. Just pass a warm loaf around and let everyone break off a piece or two. Serve it with butter and jam for a fantastic treat.
A treasure in the freezer!
Take the time to stock your freezer with a batch or two of this Pull-Apart Brioche Bread. When you're thinking about making dinner and want to make it a little more special, pull out a loaf of this fabulous homemade bread. I guarantee there will be lots of happy faces around the table!
Cafe Tips for making this Pull-Apart Brioche Bread
- A baker's bench scraper is a wonderful tool when working with bread dough. It can also be used to cut pizza. I love that this one has measurement marks to create even portions.
- You'll need 4 small baking pans to make this Pull-Apart Brioche Bread, approximately 3x6-inches. I've had these Chicago Metallic pans for several years and really like them. They're non-stick and come out of the dishwasher looking like new.
- You could also use 2 round 8-inch pans for circular loaves. Just divide the dough in half instead of quarters and divide each of the halves into 16 smaller portions. Then proceed as directed to shape into balls, flatten the balls, spread each with a bit of butter and stack in the pan.
- This recipe calls for "hot tap water". What that means is water that feels hot if you dip your finger in it but not so hot that you need to quickly pull it out. If you want to use an instant thermometer, the temp should be between 118-122˚F (47-50˚C).
- As mentioned above, don't feel like you need to make perfect circles for this Pull-Apart Brioche Bread. The more imperfect the circles are the prettier and more fun the finished loaves!
- This bread freezes well. I usually store them individually in plastic bread bags (they're super reasonable online.) That makes it easy to pull out one or two loaves at a time. I let them thaw, then re-warm in a 325˚F oven for about 10 minutes before serving.
Thought for the day:
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
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- 4¼ cups all-purpose or bread flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2¼ teaspoons instant dry yeast
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ¼ cups hot tap water 118-122˚F (47-50˚C)
- 4 tablespoons soft butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon tap water
Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a medium-large bowl. Stir well to combine, then make a well in the center. Set aside.
Melt butter in the microwave for 30-40 seconds on high power, until just melted. Remove from microwave and add the ¼ cup of milk. Stir with a fork then add the egg and egg yolk. Stir again until well mixed.
Add the milk mixture to the well in the center of the flour. Add the hot tap water to the well then stir to combine. Continue stirring until all flour is incorporated. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
Generously butter 4 3x6-inch loaf pans and set aside. You can also make 2 rounds of bread by using 2 8-inch cake pans.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour onto a work surface. Transfer the dough onto the floured surface and turn several times with a bench scraper or spatula until dough is coated with flour.
Using a bench scraper or spatula, divide the dough into four equal pieces. Turn each piece in the flour to coat all of the surfaces. Add more flour to the work surface if needed.
Set 3 of the dough balls aside and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place the 4th ball of dough onto the floured work surface and, using a bench scraper or sharp knife divide the dough into quarters. Cut each quarter in half. You should have 8 fairly evenly-sized pieces of dough. With your hands, tuck the edges of the dough balls underneath to form 8 balls of dough. (Don’t worry about perfect shaped balls here, the more imperfect, the more whimsical and pretty the finished loaves.)
Flatten one of the dough balls with the palm of your hand then push it out with your fingers to make a circle of dough approximately 2½ inches in diameter. Spread the circle with a scant ½ teaspoon of butter and fold it in half. Place the folded circle in one of the prepared pans with the open edges facing up. Repeat this sequence with the remaining portions of dough to fill up one of the prepared pans.
Repeat the above process with each of the remaining 3 portions of dough, filling up the 4 prepared bread pans. Cover the pans with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, 30-40 minutes.
Combine the egg and water and stir vigorously with a fork. With a pastry brush, brush each loaf over the top with the egg wash. Try to be careful not to let the wash drip down the sides of the loaves into the pan.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375˚F and prepare the egg wash by vigorously whisking together the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside.
Place loaves in the preheated oven oven for 18-25 minutes or until golden brown. If the tops seem to be getting too brown before the end of the baking time, just cover them with foil for the last few minutes. Remove from the oven and tip the loaves on their sides to remove them from the pans. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. If the loaves don’t want to release from the pan, run a small sharp knife between the edges of the loaves and the pan to loosen. Enjoy!
See Café Tips for more detailed instructions and tips.