Sourdough brioche is an ultra-soft, rich, and buttery bread with a distinctive sourdough flavor. Enjoy this bread with sandwiches, as hamburger buns or dinner rolls. It is even versatile enough for daily bread, french toast, or on your holiday table.
Using this recipe, you can make sourdough brioche bread loaf, buns, or rolls. The dough is the same, and I have included instructions on making this bread in four different ways.
I think there is nothing better than freshly baked bread. The delicious aroma fills the whole house and brings out cozy feelings. For this bread, I combined two favorites, sourdough, and brioche. This bread recipe used lots of eggs and butter, resulting in a rich dough.
I like this bread for dinner rolls slathered with butter. This bread is also perfect for hamburger buns. The bread soaks up all the juices and makes the burger next-level good!
My goal with this blog post is to break down the bread-making recipe into manageable steps. I believe when looking at a bread recipe, it can quickly become overwhelming. However, broken down, it is easy to see that making bread is just a series of steps that happens over a long time.
All right, let’s get to it!
You only need seven ingredients to make this bread—most of which you probably already have.
Preparing Your Starter
When making this bread, you want your starter to be at its peak and active. To prepare your starter to make brioche, you will need to:
- Feed your starter about 4-12 hours before mixing the dough. I know this seems like a large range of time, however, the activity of your starter depends on your starter itself, the temperature of your home, and the humidity. A good general rule is your starter is ready once it has doubled in size.
- This recipe needs a lot of starter. When I make this bread I move my starter to a different container and double the feeding. You will probably need to adjust the amount you feed your starter to ensure you have 480 grams needed for this recipe.
- Before you start mixing the dough, I recommend conducting a float test with your starter. If your starter is ready to be used, it will float. If your starter sinks, you will need to start the feeding process over again.
Making The Dough
Sourdough brioche dough is a very wet and sticky dough. It takes longer than your average dough to come together. The only way to mix this dough is with a stand-up mixer and a dough hook. Here are the steps to mixing the dough:
- Use a stand-up mixer with the dough hook attachment.
- Place the sourdough starter, milk, eggs, flour, sugar, and salt in your mixing bowl.
- Starting on a low speed and working up to a medium speed, knead the dough for 5 -7 minutes.
- Next, add in the butter 14 grams (one tablespoon) at a time. Once the butter has been fully incorporated, add another 14 grams (one tablespoon). Continue this step until all the butter has fully been incorporated into the dough.
- Continue to knead the dough until the dough becomes smooth and is no longer sticking to the sides of your mixing bowl. This takes between 20 and 30 minutes.
- After 20 – 30 minutes, conduct a windowpane test to determine if your dough is ready for the first proof. (Next section provides details). If your dough did not pass the windowpane test, knead with the dough hook for two more minutes and try again. Repeat until the dough can pass the windowpane test.
- Once you have passed a windowpane test, grease a bowl and place the dough inside the bowl. Place a wet towel over the bowl and leave it on your counter for one hour. This is the fermentation process.
- After fermentation, your dough is ready for the first proof. Simply cover the bowl with cling wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 12 – 20 hours. The longer your dough is in the refrigerator, the stronger the sour flavor.
How To Do A Windowpane Test
The windowpane test is the best way to tell if you have adequately kneaded your bread. The general theory is that if you stretch a small section of dough, the light will shine through like a windowpane. If the light shines through, you are ready to begin shaping the dough. If it does not, you have to continue to kneed. Here is how to conduct the windowpane test. Here is how to perform the test:
- Cut off a small piece of dough
- Roll the dough into a golf ball sized ball
- Using both your right and left hands:
- Grab the top corners of dough between your index and middle fingers
- Grab the bottom corners of dough between your thumb, ring and pinky fingers.
- Gently stretch the dough into a square shape.
- If the dough:
- Stretches without breaking, you have passed the window pane test.
- Breaks, kneed for two more minutes and try again until you pass the test.
Shaping The Dough
This section begins after the first proof is completed. In most cases, the next/second day.
Sectioning and Shaping – Using a kitchen scale, weigh the dough and cut it into equal pieces. Fold the dough into a round shape by pinching the ends, then roll the dough into a firm ball. Using this recipe, you can make bread, buns, or rolls. The number of sections you need will depend on your desired outcome. Below is a guide I use when making a:
- Bubble top bread, and divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
- Braided, similar to challah, divide the bread into 3, 4, or 6 stands and braid.
- For large buns cut the dough into 9 equal pieces.
- Traditional-sized buns cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.
- Rolls, cut the dough into 18 equal pieces.
How you prepare the bread for the second proof depends on your desired outcome.
- For loaf-style bread, tuck the dough tightly into a bread pan. The dough should be tight in the bread pan so that it can only expand up.
- For buns or rolls, spaced the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet so that it will not touch once doubled in size.
The second proof takes between 4 – 8 hours. I know this range seems long; however, several factors influence the proofing time, such as your home’s temperature, humidity, countertops, and even your starter.
To achieve a golden color, you need to do an egg wash. Note, this step is optional.
To do this, whisk an egg and one tablespoon of water together. Just before your dough goes into the oven, brush the dough with the egg wash.
You will not use all of the egg, just a tiny portion.
Bake your sourdough brioche in the oven at 425F/220C for 25 – 30 minutes.
Bread Making Timeline
The making of brioche happens over two days. It does take planning and preparation. Below is a timeline and how long is needed within each segment of making this bread. If the times do not work for you, modify the schedule as needed and take advantage of the proofing times.
- 8 AM (8 hours): Prepare the starter.
- 4 PM (1 hour): Mix the dough.
- 5 PM (1 hour): Place the dough in a glass bowl, cover it with a damp towel and allow it to sit on the counter at room temperature for one hour. This is the fermentation state.
- 6 PM (12 – 20 hours): Place the dough in the refrigerator for the first proof.
- Note, the longer the fermentation, the more sour the flavor.
- 9 AM (4 – 8 hours): Shape the dough into equally sized dough balls or strands. I strongly recommend using a kitchen scale to ensure accuracy. Then place the dough balls in a greased baking dish or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and begin the second proof.
- 5 PM: Preheat the oven to 425F/210C. Remove the cover and bake until the bread is golden brown.
Frequently Asked Questions
Challah and brioche are very similar. They are both sweet and incredibly soft bread. However, challah is kosher and uses oil in place of dairy. Brioche, on the other hand, uses lots of butter. This brioche recipe is also made with a sourdough starter, giving it a distinctive sourdough flavor.
Your dough should be smooth and shiny. I recommend conducting a windowpane test. If you pass the test, you are ready to shape the dough. If you fail the test, continue to knead for two more minutes and then test again. See the ‘Windowpane Section‘ above for more details.
Probably not. This dough is very wet and sticky. Kneading by hand will result in a doughy mess, and possibly you swearing never to make bread again. Because of this, I would only use a stand-up mixer with a dough hook to knead this dough.
To achieve a distinctive sourdough flavor, you must use a sourdough starter. However, if you would like a non-sourdough brioche, I recommend using this recipe from King Arthur.
Yes and no. Yes, you can omit sugar from this recipe. However, this bread will lose its trademark flavor.
Sourdough brioche does not have preservatives and will go stale quickly. Your brioche will last longer if you wrap it tightly in cling wrap. In the event your brioche went stale, I recommend using it for a casserole or french toast.
Countertop – Store in an air-tight container for up to 24 hours.
Refrigerator – I do not recommend storing this bread in the refrigerator.
Freezer – Allow bread to cook thoroughly. Tightly wrap in cling wrap for up to 2 months. Before using, allow the bread to come to room temperature before serving.
In the Mood for Something Else?
Sweet Sourdough Brioche Bread Recipe (Bread, Buns and Rolls)
- Stand up mixer
- Kitchen Scale
- One medium bowl
- Baking dish or bread pan
- 480 grams sourdough starter
- 83 grams full-fat milk
- 6 large eggs
- 565 grams all-purpose flour
- 20 grams sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 227 grams butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
Sourdough Brioche Bread
- Mix: Using a stand-up mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the sourdough starter, milk, eggs, flour, sugar, and salt at a low speed for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Begin adding in the butter 14 grams at a time (one tablespoon); allow the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough before adding another 14 grams. Repeat this process until all the butter has been incorporated. Once combined, increase your mixer to a medium speed. Continue to knead with the dough hook for 20 – 30 minutes.480 grams sourdough starter, 83 grams full-fat milk, 6 large eggs, 20 grams sugar, 565 grams all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon salt, 227 grams butter, room temperature
- Fermentation and First Proof: Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel, and allow the dough to ferment for 1 hour. After 1 hour, place the dough in the refrigerator for 12 – 20 hours (first proof). When the first proof is complete, begin shaping the dough.
- Shaping: Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a rough rectangle. (Use your hands and do not use a rolling pin). Divide and weigh the dough. Then cut the dough into equal pieces using a kitchen scale. With the exception of braided bread, create dough balls by pinching the ends of the dough, then rolling it until the ball is firm. The size of the pieces will vary depending on what you are baking. Here are my recommendations:* Bubble top bread, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. * Braided bread, like challah, divide the bread into 3, 4, or 6 stands. * Large buns cut the dough into 9 equal pieces. * Traditional-sized buns cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. * Rolls, cut the dough into 18 equal pieces.How to prepare the dough for the second rise depends on the style. Here is how I do it. * If making bubble top or braided bread, tightly tuck the dough into a bread pan so that the only direction the dough can go is up. * If making buns or rolls, space them out so they will not touch when doubled in size on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Second Rise: Cover the dough and let it rise on your countertop until doubled in size. This could take 4 – 8 hours depending on the temperature and humidity in your home. After the dough has doubled in size, you are ready to bake.1 large egg, 1 tablespoon water
- Bake: Preheat the oven to 425F/220C. Before placing the dough in the oven, mix the egg and water to create the egg wash. Then brush the egg wash on top of the rolls. Bake the bread for 25 – 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack for one hour before eating.