Rich Egg Bread Dough
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About 4 cups flour
¼ ounce package active dry yeast OR 3/5 ounce cake fresh yeast
¼ cup tepid water
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
20 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk, beaten with 2 teaspoons water
Mix the yeast with the tepid water, and leave it for 10 minutes. Put the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Add the yeast mixture and break in the eggs. Mix the eggs and yeast, gradually pulling flour from the sides of the well, until all of the flour has been moistened. The dough should be very soft and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a cool, unfloured work surface. Using your hands and a pastry scraper, knead the dough thoroughly for about 10 minutes, or until it loses its stickiness and becomes smooth and elastic.
Break off walnut-sized pieces of the butter and, using the pastry scraper or a spatula, fold them one at a time into the dough. Knead again until the dough is smooth. Put the dough into a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and leave it in a warm place for 3 to 4 hours, or until the dough has tripled in volume.
Punch the dough down several times to expel the air, then knead it lightly in the bowl for 2 or 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again.
TIP - For best results, let the dough rise in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. If that is not possible, let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk - 3 to 4 hours - then chill it for at least ½ hour before shaping it.
Makes 2 pounds
NOTE - This recipe produces enough dough for about twelve 3-inch brioches or two 8-inch brioches. Instead of being baked in fluted brioche molds, the dough may be formed into a 10 to 12-inch ring and the surface cut with scissors. In this case, the bread is known as a Brioche Couronne (Crown Brioche.)