1/4 C. warm whipping cream (about 105°F.)
1/2 t. sugar
1 package active dry yeast
2 C. flour
1 t. salt
3 eggs at room temperature
1/2 C. butter, melted and cooled
2 egg yolks
2 T. whipping cream
Combine cream and sugar, then add yeast and stir briskly to dissolve. Let proof 5 minutes. To proof yeast, let it stand in a warm place as it swells and becomes bubbly. This technique proves the yeast is alive and active and therefore capable of leavening a bread or other baked good.
Put yeast mixture and all remaining ingredients in food processor fitted with steel blade. Process 10 seconds. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand, adding more flour as necessary to make a soft but manageable dough that adheres only slightly to your hand.
Transfer dough to buttered bowl; turn to coat all sides with butter. Cover with plastic; set aside to rise 1 1/2 hours or until doubled. Punch dough down with lightly floured fist.
To bake in 12 individual 3 1/2-inch tins: Preheat oven to 400°F.. Divide dough into two unequal portions (one-third and two-thirds). Divide each portion into 12 balls (12 large and 12 small balls). Place large balls in 12 buttered 3 1/2 brioche tins. With floured thumb make an indentation in each larger ball. Nestle a small ball in each indentation.
Let rise until doubled. Whisk together egg yolks and cream. Brush brioches with half of the egg glaze, being careful not to let glaze touch sides of tins. Repeat 5 minutes later with remaining glaze. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce oven heat to 350°F.; bake until golden brown (about 5 to 10 minutes more).
To bake in loaf shape:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Form dough into a loaf shape. Place in a single buttered 9-inch loaf pan. Let rise until doubled. Whisk together egg yolks and cream. Brush dough with half of the egg glaze, being careful not to let glaze touch sides of pan. Repeat 5 minutes later with remaining glaze. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 350 degrees and continue baking 30 minutes longer or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from pan and cool completely on a rack before slicing.
Makes about 1 dozen 3 1/2-inch brioches or one 9-inch loaf.
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