Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Mar 5, 2013 01:17 PM

Why does the white bread I baked seem like brioche?

First time bread-baker here, and I'm trying to understand the science behind it all, so I can learn what I'm actually doing right and wrong. I tried this recipe for white sandwich bread : .

My final product, aside from not rising as much as I wanted, tastes OK, but it reminds me very much of the brioche I used to buy in France -- not the good stuff from the bakery, but the bagged grocery-store variety. It's not sweet, but the texture, crust and appearance very much remind me of that bread (not of a white sandwich bread!). Can someone help me figure out *why* that might be? I followed the recipe closely, but due to time constraints, and my inability to read the directions, a few hiccups came up which I will mention, in case they played a role:

1. I mistakenly put the salt and softened butter in with the flour mixture that I sprinkled all over the sponge. I then refrigerated all this for about 18 hours.
2. I might have used the wrong yeast -- I added "active dry yeast" but I don't know if that differs from the "instant yeast" called for in the recipe.
3. My dough was not nearly as sticky as the recipe suggested it would be.
4. After the first rise, I put it back in the fridge overnight. For the second rise, I placed in an ever-so-slightly-warmed oven (to get it closer to that 70-80 degree mark the recipe suggested).

Thanks for any suggestions!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The yeast probably isn't the problem, unless the yeast was old and dead. Instant and active dry aren't THAT different, though I would test active dry when I used to bake with it (only use instant now). Maybe you didn't let it rise enough? Another possibility could be that there wasn't enough liquid (for the stickiness you said was lacking). Humidities in kitchens are variable and sometimes one has to add extra liquid or flour, depending on circumstances. bTW, I usually use the thumbprint test to determine if bread needs a bit more risingvtime.

    FWIW, you sound like you had a much more successful loaf than I did as a first-timer!

    I'm sure some more seasoned bread bakers will reply. Good luck with baking!

    1. Compared to the recipe I use from the Bread
      Bakers Apprentice it has an awful lot of butter. Mine has 3 tablespoons butter to 4 3/4 cups of flour.

      In the epicurious recipe the description says it is like brioche which is probably why it came out that way.

      Maybe try a recipe like this one and see how it suits you.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kengk

        Ah.. I guess I could have read the description of the bread in the recipe, instead of just diving in and beginning to bake! I hadn't noticed that.

        1. re: kengk

          Second the KAF recipes. Follow the instructions and don't make substitutions, and you're virtually guaranteed success. You can also chat with someone from KAF online if you run into problems.

        2. You're probably using too much butter (versus the amount of flour)

          1. Thanks -- it DID seem like an awful lot of butter to me. But as a first-timer, I just thought that was "normal." Also, the total lack of humidity in my house right now (heat running for months) could have made a difference, too.

            1 Reply
            1. re: anakalia

              I think what you did do with the recipe, eg. making the sponge and letting it sit so long, and doing the rise in the refrigerator made the bread better than it would have been. And, the active yeast slowed the rise over instant. I like the KAF bread posted above, as well as the Cooks Illustrated Best Recipe bread, but doing the longer rise w/ both breads if you have the time. I like the texture of the bread flour in the CI recipe better than AP for the most part but it depends on what I'm making with it.


            2. Also, I think enriched sandwich bread should be quite sticky when first mixed. It gets much easier to handle after the first rise. I frequently have to use a little extra liquid in the winter time and I live in a very humid climate.