Lovely when served with vanilla butter, this tasty brioche has hints of orange and vanilla.
3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups cold butter
1 (.25-ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
6 large eggs, divided
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved, divided
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
• Place the flour in a shallow pan, cover, and freeze for 30 minutes.
• In the bowl of an electric stand mixer at medium-high speed, beat the cold butter until creamy and smooth.
• Scrape the butter into a mound on piece of wax paper, and refrigerate. (Proceed with the recipe right away, a long delay will reharden the butter.)
• In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar with the warm water, and stir to dissolve.
• Fit the mixer with a dough hook, then add the cold flour, remaining ½ cup sugar, 5 eggs, reserved seeds from 1 vanilla bean, orange juice, sour cream, salt, cinnamon, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are blended, scraping the bowl as necessary.
• Knead the dough at medium speed for 5 minutes. (The dough will be very soft and sticky.)
• Add the cold creamed butter in several pieces, beating thoroughly until incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the dough hook as necessary.
• Spray a medium bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.
• Generously butter 12 small brioche tins. Transfer the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface, and deflate it with your hands. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a log 8 inches long. Make a loop at one end of the rope, and insert the other end through it, as though tying a knot.
• Nestle the knotted end into a prepared brioche tin with the tail of the dough facing upward. Repeat with remaining dough and tins. Place the pans on a baking sheet, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
• Preheat oven to 350°.
• Beat the remaining egg lightly, and brush the beaten egg gently over the surface of each brioche, being careful not to get it on the tins.
• Bake until the tops are deep golden brown and the bottoms of the pans sound hollow when tapped, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack.
• In a small bowl, combine the softened butter and reserved seeds from remaining vanilla bean.
• Serve brioche warm with vanilla butter.