Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Thursday, 14th February 2013

For a long time I prepared yeasted dough using the stand mixer but lately I prefer to prepare it using the traditional method, by hand. There’s something about the process of kneading dough that I find so comforting and relaxing. I think it’s because I get lost in the rhythmic movements and it offers an escape from the day-to-day hustle and bustle. Some may disagree with me especially when preparing Brioche dough because one can easily become frustrated when working in the large amount of fat (butter) that is needed to prepare this enriched dough. Brioche dough is perfect for Cinnamon Bread; the rich, feathery strands combined with the moist sweet sugar and “red hot” cinnamon swirl is amazing together.

A close up photo of the interior of Brioche Cinnamon Bread.

Having said this, if you’ve never prepared brioche dough, I would still recommend preparing it by hand a few times to familiarize yourself with how the dough should feel during the different stages of development. You may be tempted to add flour when working in the fat, please don’t because it will prevent you from enjoying the delicate feathery texture of brioche. Please make sure to set enough time aside for the kneading process otherwise it will lead to frustration.

A cropped photo showing unbaked Brioche Loaf in Le Creuset Marseille Loaf Pan.

Brioche belongs to the family of Viennoiserie. Viennoiserie is the term given to baked goods that are prepared with yeasted dough that is sweetened with sugar and enriched with eggs and butter.  There are two types of Viennoiserie, baked goods prepared with laminated dough like croissants and Danish pastries and, baked goods prepared with non-laminated dough like panettone, and of course, brioche.

A photo of Cinnamon Brioche Loaf displayed in Marseille Loaf Pan from Le Creuset.

There are three types of brioche dough and they are often referred to in these terms, Rich Man’s Brioche, Middle Class Brioche and, Poor Man’s Brioche. I shouldn’t be remiss in mentioning there is also cake-like brioche dough. Usually when preparing leavened dough enriched with butter, the butter is added after the gluten has had a chance to develop but for cake-like brioche the butter is intentionally added with the flour and the dough is not chilled. The end result is a very tender, tight crumb similar to pound cake.

A close up and cropped photo displaying a pedestal bowl full of Brioche à Tête Parisiennes.

The difference between the first three is the butter to flour ratio. Rich Man’s Brioche is loaded with butter; a minimum of seventy percent therefore if you were preparing brioche dough with 500 g (4 cups) of flour a minimum of 350 g (a tad more than 3 cups) of butter is added, super rich. You’d have to live in the gym if you ate this type of brioche too often. The ratio of butter to fat for Middle Class Brioche is fifty percent. And for Poor Man’s Brioche, the ratio is a minimum of 20%.

A photo of Cinnamon Loaf prior to baking.

The Middle Class Brioche is the most commonly prepared brioche dough. It’s much cheaper to prepare and it’s quite versatile. The dough is perfect for cinnamon buns, brioche à tête, Nanterre loaves and mousseline. I usually prepare the Middle Class Brioche dough and working in the fifty percent butter (by hand) is difficult enough I can just imagine the work out needed to bring together dough with a minimum of seventy percent butter – impossible quickly comes to mind. This is probably another reason for the popularity of the Middle Class Brioche.

A photo of Cinnamon Swirl Brioche displayed in Le Creuset Marseille Loaf Pan with blue and white striped cloth napkin.

Whenever I get frustrated preparing brioche dough (usually when I haven’t set enough time aside to prepare) and I’m fighting the urge to add more flour to help work in the fat or I find myself complaining that it’s taking so long to bring the dough together I take a moment and think back to my childhood and remember all the times I watched my mother prepare homemade bread.

A photo Brioche Cinnamon Swirl displayed on a sheet of crumbled parchment and pink and white striped napkin and Brioche à Tête displayed in pedestal bowl.

My mother never prepared one or two loaves of bread it was more like sixty. She had a huge plastic bucket that she rested on a chair, which was pushed up against the table. She would knead dough for what seemed like hours, the smell of yeast lingered throughout the house. She would line up rows and rows of loaf tins on the wooden table leaving only a small area free to shape the loaves.

A close up and cropped photo showing half of Cinnamon Brioche Loaf displayed in Le Creuset Marseille Loaf Pan and with blue and white striped cloth napkin.

Everyone in the neighbourhood knew when it was bread-making day in the Massa home because the aroma of yeast and freshly baked bread wafted throughout the house and escaped through the open windows.

A photo of Brioche Cinnamon Loaf displayed on black slate board with Marseille Loaf Pan displayed in behind.

When I married my mother parted with some of her bread tins and she also gave me a pot that she’d brought to Canada from Belgium. She prepared so many batches of homemade sauce in that pot and every time I made sauce I was convinced it tasted just like my mothers, it provided a wonderful feeling of comfort.

A close up, cropped photo of shaped Brioche Dough displayed in Marseille Loaf Pan from Le Creuset prior to baking.

I made the decision way back then that I too would hand down my collection to my children some day, hoping one day it would provide the same type of comfort. I began building my collection of Le Creuset, purchasing each piece in twos, one for Liana and one for Matthew. At the time, my husband thought I was crazy, we were just starting out and although the quality is worth every penny it was a luxury we couldn’t really afford but I saved a little here and a little there, watched for sales and today I have a beautiful collection. I’m from the camp that believes good quality products stand the test of time and save you money in the long run.

A photo of Cinnamon Swirl Brioche Loaf displayed on a sheet of crumpled parchment on dark wooden board.

The wonderful people at Le Creuset sent me the beautiful Marseille Loaf Pan you see in the images. It’s part of their Heritage Stoneware collection. The enameled surface is scratch resistant and very easy to clean; the burnt on sugar cinnamon bits wiped right off. It’s one of the features I like most about the stoneware collection.

A photo of Brioche Cinnamon Bread with a few cut slices placed in front to show the interior of the loaf.

The legendary waters that surround that corner of Provence inspired the new Marseille colour. The striking colour reminds me of France and I thought it only fitting to prepare a traditional French Brioche to show off this exceptional piece of stoneware.

Thank you Le Creuset!

A photo of Brioche Cinnamon Loaf in Le Creuset Stoneware Loaf Pan.

The Brioche dough can be shaped in many different ways, I tried to add all the options below for a quick reference guide. If I’ve missed any you’d like to have instructions for them, please let me know via the comments and I will update the post. I’ve linked to an amazing video that demonstrates how to shape the Brioche à Tête and if you’ve struggled with keeping your “têtes” in place after proofing you will be forever grateful to the Chef for sharing his technique. I need a little more practice with the technique, but I will be using this method always in future.

A close up photo of a pedestal bowl full of Brioche à Tête.

I’ve also shared tips for reducing the amount of unraveling that can occur when preparing Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

Please stop by tomorrow because I’m continuing on with Brioche Dough and I’ll be sharing recipe for Brioches à Têtes Parisiennes au Chocolat (Chocolate Brioche Rolls).

Disclosure Further to my post above please note Le Creuset provided me with the Marseilles Loaf Pan which I appreciate very much but my opinions on the product are my own. I’ve been purchasing their products for years because the quality is amazing and the service I’ve received over the years by Le Creuset has been exceptional.

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Comments (4)

4 Responses to “Brioche Cinnamon Bread and How To Shape Brioche Dough”

  1. Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste Says:

    WOW! What a stunning lineup of recipes! I can only imagine how buttery and moist that cinnamon brioche must taste. Yum!

  2. Dionne Baldwin Says:

    A lot of time and work went into this post and I really appreciate the brioche education. I have tried so many recipes that are titled brioche, but they are not even close to what I was looking for and I didn’t know enough about the dough to adapt it. Thank you so much for this post and the beautiful photographs!

  3. Grace Massa Langlois Says:

    Thank you so much Dionne, I really enjoyed preparing this post. I hope to one day update with a video (if I can ever get over my fear of being in front of the camera) to make it easier to follow along.

  4. Brioche | Comiditas Says:

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