Rise, dough…RISE!

I’ve run into a problem the past several months.  My house is too cold and I can’t get any of my bread or pastry dough to rise.  I have tried everything.  I bought new yeast, I turned my heat up (a little), I slightly preheated my oven and tried to get it to rise in there, but all to no avail.  The truth of the matter is that I live in a home built in the 1920s that is poorly insulated and quite drafty in areas.  We are used to keeping it quite chilly in an attempt to save some money, but I’ve been sad that I haven’t been able to try many new bread and pastry recipes for some time now.

I did, however, decide to give it a whirl the other day when I came across this cool thing.

I’ve been wanting to try brioche for the past three years, ever since we consumed way too much of it during our visit to France.  So when I found this pretty pan at a thrift store the other day, I decided it was fate, meaning my house temperature was sure to cooperate.

This slightly sweet, buttery breakfast pastry was not nearly as difficult as recipes like to make it look.  It made my house smell like a bakery, and it didn’t take too much time.

While it didn’t rise nearly as much as I would have liked it to, it wasn’t a complete bust.

I think Marie-Antoinette would have been proud. ♥

Try it out before winter is completely over and you won’t want to turn your oven on again!  Enjoy!

Brioche Dough

(from Bake! by Nick Malgieri)


1/3 cup milk

2 1/2 tsp. (1 envelope) active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm tap water, about 100 degrees

3/4 cup bread flour (spoon into a dry measure cup and level off)


2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

3 Tbsp. sugar

All the sponge, above

2 cups bread flour

1 tsp. salt

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

  • For the sponge, warm the milk in a small pan over low heat; pour it into a small bowl and allow it to cool to 100 degrees.
  • Whisk the yeast into the warm water in a medium bowl.  Wait 2 minutes, then whisk again to make sure all the yeast has dissolved.  Whisk in the cooled milk.  Use a rubber spatula to stir the flour into the liquid.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the sponge ferment until more than doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Once the sponge has risen, use a rubber spatula to break up the eggs and yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Stir in the sugar.  Scrape the risen sponge into the bowl and mix it into the eggs.  Add the flour and salt to the bowl and stir in.  Mix on medium speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl, 3-4 minutes.
  • Add a third of the butter and continue mixing until the butter is completely absorbed.  Repeat with the remaining two thirds of the butter, mixing to incorporate after each addition.
  • Continue to mix until the dough is very smooth, elastic, an shiny, 4 to 5 additional minutes.
  • Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl and turn it over so that the top is buttered.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  • Scrape the risen dough from the bowl to a floured work surface.  Flour your hands and gently round the dough without deflating it too much by pushing inward at the bottom with your flat upturned palms all around the piece of dough; the outside skin of the dough will tighten and become more spherical.
  • Place into the buttered brioche pan and let rise until it comes about 1 1/2 inches above the rim of the pan, about 30 minutes.  Set oven rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Immediately before placing the risen loaf in the oven, brush the top with the egg wash (1 large eggs well beaten with a pinch of salt), being careful not to drip any egg wash down the side of the pan.  Slash the top skin of the dough lengthwise, down the middle of the loaf.  Bake the loaf until it is well risen, is deep golden, and has an internal temperature of 200-210 degrees.
  • Unmold the loaf to a rack and cool it on its side to prevent deflating.

7 thoughts on “Rise, dough…RISE!

  1. Sarah Swan says:

    I have those days too. I’m surprised the warm oven didn’t help though. I’m sorry about that. But that brioche looks YUM-O.

  2. Marilyn says:

    Annie..I sure have enjoyed your stories about your experiences in learning to cook and bake. You are one of the few that will carry on the tradition of making things from scratch 🙂 Your pictures are delicately taken to attract the eye and make our mouth water! Love your boldness at attempting to make anything you set your mind on! You go girl, using those talents and letting us partake in them even from a distance…yet always through your experience…it’s almost as if we were right there in your kitchen…tasting and smelling and so enjoying the time spent with you!

    P.S. I have had success in using a heating pad…on low and with a couple of towels under the pan to make for sure it does not get too hot…trial and error on the temp.

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