1/3 cup warm water (105-110˚ F)
1 tbsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
9 oz. (1½ cups) bread flour, divided
5 oz. (¾ cups) pastry flour
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces (plus more for brushing pans)
4 large eggs, cold
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. nonfat dry milk
1 tsp. salt
1 large egg white, beaten
step 1: Show Images
To make the dough, combine the warm water, yeast, and 2 ounces of the bread flour in a medium bowl; stir until well blended. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk and bubbles appear on the surface, about 1 hour.
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Combine the remaining 7 ounces of bread flour and the pastry flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the butter, eggs, sugar, and dry milk; beat on low speed until well blended, about 5 minutes. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl and continue beating on low speed for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the salt and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes more.
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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; immediately place in the freezer for 30 minutes (this prevents the dough from rising too quickly). Remove the dough from the freezer and punch the dough down in the bowl. Fold the sides into the center, then invert the dough so the dough is smooth side up. Re-cover with the plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 10 hours or overnight.
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Butter 20 small brioche molds; set aside. Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces, about 1½ ounces each (my molds are larger and were filled better by 2½-3 ounces). Working with a few pieces at a time (keeping the rest in the refrigerator), divide each piece into two, one being twice the size of the other.
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On a lightly floured surface, form the larger piece into a round ball. Press your thumb into the center to form a deep well and then rotate to widen the hole. Shape the smaller piece into a teardrop. Press the tip of the teardrop gently into the bottom of the hole. Place into a prepared mold. Repeat with the remaining dough.
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Drape the filled molds with a piece of well-oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until fully doubled in bulk (1-3 hours). Meanwhile, preheat the oven 375˚ F.
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Just before baking, brush the dough gently with the beaten egg. Place the molds on rimmed baking sheets. Bake until a deep golden brown, 8-12 minutes. Immediately remove from the molds and let cool on a wire rack.
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(To make 9 x 5-inch loaves, butter two loaf pans. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces (2 ounces each). Shape each piece into a ball. Place 8 balls in each prepared pan in a 4 x 2 formation. Cover loosely with well oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1-3 hours. Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Just before baking, brush with the beaten egg. Bake loaves until they sound hollow when the bottoms are tapped, about 40 minutes. Immediately remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.)