Salted butter, eggs, milk, and a little sugar enrich this soft brioche loaf. It’s baked until the crust is deeply brown on the outside (seriously—don’t be afraid to let it get dark!), while the inside stays light and incredibly fluffy. It’s best served fresh and slightly warm, but leftovers make the best toast (and French toast!) ever. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, eggs, and milk on low speed until it begins to come together, 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl well, and raise the speed to medium and mix for 4 minutes more.
With the mixer running, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing it to mix in fully before adding the next—the whole process should take 2 to 3 minutes. The dough should be very smooth—it may appear very sticky (that’s okay!).
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, then refrigerate overnight (about 8 hours—this not only gives the bread more flavor, it makes it easier to work with later).
The next day, remove the dough from the fridge, and shape on a lightly floured surface into an 8-inch log. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased 9x5-inch loaf pan—stretch the log gently over the pan and it should fit snugly. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until it reaches 1/2 inch above the rim of the loaf pan (because the dough is cold, this can take quite awhile, especially if your kitchen is cool), anywhere from 1 to 2 1/2 hours.
Towards the end of rise time, preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the plastic wrap from the surface of the loaf, and egg wash the surface. Bake the loaf until it’s deeply brown (really, really brown—don’t be afraid!) and it reaches an internal temperature of 190°F, 30 to 35 minutes.
Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a rack to cool completely before serving (preferably, with some more butter).
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, is out on November 10th, 2020.