This brioche recipe by Raymond Calvel, a French baker and the author of "The Taste of Bread," is a favorite of Melissa Yanc, the winner of Food Network's "Holiday Baking Championship." "Raymond Calvel is a forefather of bread baking," said Melissa Yanc. "I use his book for reference all the time and it's great in-depth reading material for an experienced baker." Here, Melissa Yanc shares how she makes Calvel's beautiful brioche recipe.
For the sponge: Put the flour, yeast and milk in a medium bowl and mix with your hands until smooth and well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rest at room temperature for about 12 hours.
For the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the eggs, sugar, salt, flour and the sponge and mix on medium speed until a smooth dough forms, about 2 minutes. The dough should spring back to the touch of your finger.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, allowing it to be incorporated after each addition. Continue beating until the dough is smooth (and to allow the gluten to develop), about 10 minutes. The dough will be very dense.
Lightly coat a large bowl with melted butter. Add the dough to the prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rest for about 1 hour at room temperature. (This helps promote the formation of air pockets during baking.)
While the dough is proofing, brush three 9-by-5-inch loaf pans generously with melted butter.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide into three 1-pound pieces. Gently press each piece of dough into a rectangle that's slightly smaller than a loaf pan, with the shorter end facing you. Pick up the top two corners of dough and bring them to the center, stretching the dough slightly as needed for the corners to meet. Roll this folded end over the dough to form a loaf shape.
Gently but quickly pick up the shaped dough and place it seam-side down in the prepared loaf pans.
Cover the pans with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it fills the pan and reaches about 1 1/2 inches above the rim, about 1 hour.
For baking: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk the yolks and cream together for the egg wash, then brush evenly over the dough.
Bake until the loaves are a deep brown on top and the center reaches 180 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely, top side up.