1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter to coat the mold(s)
1 large egg, beaten, for egg wash
FOR THE DOUGH: Combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar in a food processor. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbly.
Add the salt, eggs, and flour to the yeast mixture and process for about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add the butter in chunks, and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (about 70 degrees) for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until it has doubled in bulk.
Flour your hands and push the dough down with your fingers. Cover for at least 4 hours, or up to 12 hours. Wrap the dough with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate. (The dough can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 month, but not longer, because the yeast is affected by the extreme cold. If you freeze it, defrost it in the refrigerator before using it.)
If making small brioches, butter twelve individual brioche molds; if making one large brioche, butter a 9-by-9-inch loaf pan or large brioche mold.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
For little brioches, cut the dough into 12 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces per brioche) and roll into little balls. Place in the buttered brioche molds. Brush with the egg wash and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled. For a large brioche, put the dough in the buttered pan. Brush with the egg wash and let rise for about 3 hours, until almost doubled.
Bake individual brioches for about 25 minutes, the large brioche for about 45 minutes, until puffed and beautifully browned. Unmold and cool on a rack.
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Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.