These brioche a tete rolls are perfect for entertaining. Make them ahead of time and serve them for your next brunch or dinner party!
Brioche a Tete
One thing that I was surprised to learn when I last visited Paris was how hard it was to find a good brioche recipe.
Brioche is a type of breakfast pastry (viennoiserie), categorized in the same group as croissants or pain aux raisins.
Unlike croissants, however, good French brioche isn’t as easy to come by. In my personal experience, I’ve had a lot of brioche that is actually dry and not very fluffy.
It wasn’t until I finally found my go-to bakery in the 6th, Gerard Mulot,that I stumbled upon exactly what I had been looking for.
What makes brioche different to most breads?
Brioche is classified as a pastry rather than a bread because of its richness in butter, eggs, and milk. This is unlike a French baguette, for example, which has none of these ingredients in the dough.
Brioche is typically very light and fluffy with a tender, golden crumb. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be when made properly.
Forming brioche a tete
The brioche a tete translation is basically a bun with a head, and the brioche a tete pronunciation is bree-oshe ah tet.
To form the tete on each of these brioche rolls, you need to create a ball shape that balances on the top of each roll. To do this, you’ll form dough balls like you would for any dinner roll recipe.
Then, you’ll use the edge of your hand to gently press into the dough to create an indentation in the dough ball that divides it with 2/3 of the dough on one side and the remaining 1/3 of dough on the other side.
The key thing to note is that you’re not actually dividing the dough. Instead, you press down until the dough is almost separated, then you’ll live the smaller part of the dough up and with a gentle twist, twirl the piece of dough onto the top of the bigger part of dough so you get a ball of dough with a smaller ball of dough resting on top.
Serving your brioche
Fluffy brioche is pure heaven. I mean, with that much butter in it, it might as well be.
In addition to French brioche being delicious, it’s a special treat that most people don’t usually have available in their homes. This means you’ll instantly be the hostess with the mostest if you decide to make these!
My favorite way to serve these brioche a tete rolls is with an array of jams and French butter. Guests always go crazy for a good brioche roll and jam.
You can also serve these alongside dinner with just a block of really good salted butter. Either way, you’re bound to impress some friends and delight in these irresistible rolls!
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2.5 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast, 1 packet
- 1 tsp table salt, plus a pinch for the egg wash
- 2 large eggs, room temperature, plus 1 egg for the egg wash
- 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut into 8 pieces, plus more for the pans
- In your mixer’s bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt using the paddle attachment. Stop to add in the 2 eggs and milk. Mix on medium-low speed just until the dough starts to clump. There should still be some unmixed egg in the dough; that's OK.
- Replace the paddle attachment with the hook attachment. Knead on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stop to scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl and off the hook. Again, knead for another 2 minutes. Add in half of the butter (a couple pieces at a time) as the hook attachment continues to knead your dough. Stop every minute or so to better incorporate the butter into the dough using your spatula. Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl ￼and hook attachment before adding in the remaining half of butter, a couple pieces at a time. Knead the dough for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove your bowl from the stand mixer and use your spatula to spread the butter into the dough as best as possible. Dough will be buttery and moist.
- Lightly flour your work surface before scooping the dough out into one big heap onto the floured surface. Use lightly floured hands to knead your dough, folding the sides into the middle at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Flip the dough ball over and repeat the folding. Place the dough ball, smooth side up, into a clean, large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size (approx. 2 hours).
- Transfer the expanded dough ball back onto a lightly floured work surface and again knead your dough, folding the sides into the middle at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. Flip the dough over and repeat. Place the dough back into the bowl, smooth side up, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place dough in fridge overnight (or at least 10 hours) for best flavor.
- The next morning, place the dough out on the counter to come to room temperature (about 2 hours). Grease 8 brioche tins (3 inch tins work well) and set aside. Lightly flour your work surface before transferring your dough out of the bowl. Knead the dough, folding its sides in towards the middle again to create a compact ball shape. Use a bench scrape or sharp knife to divide your dough into 8 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into a ball shape. Then using the side of your hand, with your fingers tightly pressed together (similar to a karate chop motion), press down onto the ball about one-third of the way from one of the edges of the dough ball (leaving one-third of the dough on one side of your hand, and two-thirds of the dough on the other side of your hand). Saw back and forth just until you've almost cut through the dough, but just before you've actually separated it completely. Grab the smaller part of the dough ball (it's head, or tete), and use it to gently lift the dough ball upright. Then press the head down into the dough ball's body before placing the entire piece into one of your buttered molds. Loosely cover with a large piece of plastic wrap, before repeating this step with the rest of your dough pieces. Once all of the pieces have been fitted into the molds, pull the plastic wrap loosely over all the molds and let rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F, with the oven rack positioned in the middle. Create your egg wash by whisking 1 egg to break up the yolk. Brush the brioche with the wash, trying your best not to let the wash drip down onto the molds (or else the brioche might stick to the molds). Bake until tops and sides are golden brown, approximately 18 minutes. Gently lift the brioche from their molds to carefully check their sides if you're unsure. Brioche is best served barely warm.
You can also skip the “tete" making process of the brioche and simple place the 8 dough balls together in a 9-inch loaf pan to create 1 large loaf. Simply line up the dough balls in 2 columns with 4 pieces in each column. To learn more about this method, visit the recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Orange Brioche