Great plans include brunching on this Earl Grey Brioche Pull-Apart Loaf. We’ll layer the super soft, tea-infused brioche with a citrusy filling that makes this loaf acceptable for dessert, too.
We’re back with another recipe for something I was too nervous to try when I first thought of it. Today’s edition? BRIOCHE, the pinnacle of soft, rich yeasted doughs. Coming from someone who associates bread with challah eaten during a meat meal, adding in butter struck me as blasphemy. And until I find myself that NJB who waits one hour between meat and milk, I thought life would continue as is. (Read: with a distinct lack of buttery brioche. Sad, I know. It’s a work in progress.)
Now that I’ve taken the plunge, I am here for it 100%. This Earl Grey Brioche Pull-Apart Loaf is the best thing since sliced bread. You’ve got the ease of pre-sliced bread along with the fun of pulling each slice apart with your hands. I call it delicious compromise.
We’re no stranger to tea-flavored treats (like these and these) around here. Infusing the brioche dough with earl grey tea makes it feel socially acceptable to enjoy at brunch (Mother’s Day, anyone?), despite tasting like dessert.
You need at least 15 minutes to steep the tea in warm milk before starting to make the dough. If you want to get ahead, then you can let the tea steep overnight in the fridge because longer is stronger. After that it’s a simple matter of mixing together flour, sugar, salt, yeast, milky tea and eggs. Brioche is unique because we’re adding in the fat, namely a whole lotta buttah, at the end, once our dough is mixed. Use super soft butter so that each tablespoon can incorporate smoothly into the dough. The key to that ultra soft dough we all secretly dream about is kneading the butter into the dough one tablespoon at a time, waiting until it’s fully mixed in. I know it’s tempting to speed up the process but don’t rush this.
When you slip in that last butter pat take a step back and let your mixer do the work for a little while. Pop a squat, do a dance, wash some dishes. Your brioche dough should come away from the sides of the bowl in one beautifully smooth ball when it’s ready. Few things are more satisfying than rolling out such a silky smooth dough. Fill it with an orange-infused brown sugar for an insanely good complement to the earl grey flavor we started with.
A few cuts and another warm rest later, our brioche pull-apart loaves will be happily nestled in the oven. Who’s ready to pull off a slice?
- For the Dough:
- ½ cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
- 2 Earl Grey tea bags
- 2¼ tsp active dry yeast
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, very soft
- For the Filling:
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
- ½ cup brown sugar
- Zest of ½ an orange
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp milk for egg wash
- Heat the milk until warm and steep the tea bags in it for minimum 15 minutes. You can do this overnight in the fridge. Squeeze out the tea as much as possible, then remove the bags. Reheat the milk until warm to the touch and pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in 2 tablespoons of sugar and the yeast, followed by 1 cup of flour on top. Let sit for about 10 minutes; the flour should start to "crack" when it's ready.
- Add the remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and remaining flour to the bowl. Using the dough hook attachment, mix the ingredients together on medium-low. Once everything is combined increase the speed to medium and knead until a ball of dough comes together.
- With the mixer on, slip in 1 tablespoon of the very softened butter at a time. Wait until it is fully incorporated before adding the next. When all the butter is in, continue kneading for 10-15 minutes, until the brioche dough is smooth, elastic and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
- Using lightly floured hands, form the dough into a smooth ball and put it in an oiled bowl to rise. Make sure to flip it over so that all the dough gets lightly greased. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 1½ hours, then in the fridge for ½ an hour.
- While the dough is rising, make your filling: Combine the softened butter, brown sugar, and orange zest in a bowl, creaming it with a spoon until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to an 11x15-inch rectangle. Spread the filling all over the brioche dough. Cut lengthwise into 3 pieces, then stack on top of each other and cut widthwise into 4 stacks of squares.
- Put the stacks, facing the same direction, in a lightly greased 9x5-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place for about 30 more minutes. (Your finger should leave a slight indentation that slowly springs back if you press the dough.)
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Brush the proofed dough with the egg wash. Put the loaf pan on a baking sheet to catch any spills. Bake for 33-38 minutes, until the brioche loaf is golden brown on top.