A Fearless Faux-Laminated Brioche

Add your favorite flavor here.

Every year, I bake a sweet, yeast-raised bread for my family on Christmas morning. The tradition began the year I baked a particularly successful batch of sugar-laced, extra fluffy brioche rolls. I’ve long loved the laminated brioche I’ve had from some bakeries, but didn’t want to replicate the full, tedious process early Christmas morning. So, I created a simpler method that produces lovely, delicious results in a lot less time.

First, I make my brioche dough – my recipe does a slow rise in the refrigerator overnight, making it easy to prep ahead. In the morning, I roll the dough out into a large rectangle, brush it with melted butter, and sprinkle a layer of sugar on top, then perform a series of folds. These folds give the brioche layers, much like the process of making puff pastry. But unlike the process of making puff pastry, you don’t need to rest/chill the dough between every fold (unless it becomes too soft to work with, then you can pop it into the fridge for a bit to firm up). I roll out the layered dough and cut it into strips. I form the strips into spirals and bake them in lightly greased muffin pans. The process infuses the dough with the sugar, and creates layers – this makes for crisp, crackly dough on the surface and extra-soft, light as air dough inside.


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In my new cookbook, The Fearless Baker, I was finally able to share this fun, tasty technique in the form of my Faux-Laminated Maple Sugar Brioche Rolls. In my book, I explain the whys behind a recipe, which can arm you with the knowledge needed to begin to tweak and alter recipes to suit your own tastes and whims. This recipe is a great example of that – you can apply this same technique with a few twists to create a totally different product.
I whipped up two examples in my kitchen to show you what I mean. I made my own infused sugars to swap out for the maple sugar in the original recipe – one with the zest of 2 oranges and one with the seeds from one vanilla bean and two finely crushed bay leaves. Then, I changed up the shape – I rolled the orange-infused dough into wider spirals and baked them in a 9x9 inch pan to create something a bit more like a cinnamon roll. I cut the second dough into cubes and baked in a loaf pan to create a particularly fluffy loaf.
Like so many wonderful adventures in the kitchen, the options are endless, and always delicious. Give it a try for a special holiday treat (or at breakfast, like my family enjoys it)!

Faux-Laminated Maple Brioche Rolls

Makes 16 Rolls
Brioche Dough
5 cups plus 3 tablespoons (623 g)  bread flour
½ cup (99 g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (12 g) fine sea salt
1 tablespoon (10 g) instant yeast
5 large (283 g) cold eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup (242 g) cold whole milk
14 ounces (397 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup (78 g) maple sugar, plus more for sprinkling if desired



Citrus Faux-Laminated Brioche Buns

After you mix the dough, mix 3/4 cup granulated sugar with the zest of two oranges — let sit, covered, overnight. Use this in place of the maple sugar in the recipe. In step 8, lightly grease a 9x9 inch pan. In step 9, cut the dough into 12 even strips. Roll the strips into spirals and place spiral side up in the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Vanilla-Bay Loaf

After you mix the dough, mix 3/4 cup granulated sugar with the seeds of 1 scraped vanilla bean and 2 finely crushed up bay leaves — let sit, covered, overnight. Use this in place of the maple sugar in the recipe. In step 8, lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. In step 9, cut the dough into 1-inch cubes. Stack the cubes tightly in the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

All photos by Jennifer May

About Erin Jeanne McDowell

Food, drink, and general frivolity. My book, The Fearless Baker, is 80% butter and available now!