Crown brioche (also known as brioche en couronne) "uses a dough weight that is equal or greater than 250g. After the dough has been divided and weighted, each section is rounded into a ball. The dough ball is allowed to rest for 15 minutes, then pierced along the axis. From that point the hole is progressively enlarged until the desired "crown" form is achieved. The formed dough "crown" is then placed on a baking tray and then into a proofing chamber, where it is protected from the air. Before being placed in the oven, the crowns are brushed with an egg wash, following which the tops of the loaves are cut into "saw teeth" with scissors. They may also be sprinkled with sugar after baking." (Raymond Calvel)
This is my adaptation of the latter brioche recipe. It makes 3 braided loaves (pictures of the braiding technique can be found here) or 4 crowns.
225 g unsalted butter, room temperatureTo make the sponge, in a small bowl combine 70 g flour and yeast.
125 g milk, room temperature
520 g strong flour
8 g instant yeast
75 g sugar
8 g salt
4 eggs (210 g)
1 yolk (30 g), for brushing
15 g milk, for brushing
Add milk and whisk until smooth.
Cover and let proof for 30 mins at room temp.
Place remaining flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric standing mixer.
Lightly whisk eggs and combine with sponge.
Pour into mixer and mix on low speed for 4 minutes with dough hook.
Increase speed to medium and continue mixing for an additional 15 minutes.
Decrease speed to low and add butter a little at a time until fully incorporated.
Increase speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes or until gluten is fully developed and the dough can be stretched thinly without breaking.
Place dough into a well-greased tray and cover.
Proof for 1 hour at 30ºC.
Degas gently and push the dough out to cover the tray in an even layer for fast and even dough retardation.
Cover and refrigerate for 14 hours.
Turn onto lightly floured bench and cut into 3 or 4 equal pieces for braids or crowns respectively.
For braids divide the 3 pieces of dough into 9 and roll out into long sausage-like lengths.
Braid 3 lengths together, tucking the ends underneath and place onto trays lined with baking paper.
Cover with a large clean cotton cloth to prevent drying out (and formation of "elephant skin") and proof at 25ºC for 2 hours.
Make egg wash by combining egg yolk and milk and brush over the loaves.
Bake at 180ºC for 40 mins.