Makes 2 Large Loaves
- Active Time:1 hr
- Start to Finish:12 hr
ADAPTED FROM RICHARD BERTINET
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fresh (cake) yeast or 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
large eggs, divided
sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Rub yeast into flour in a large bowl. Stir in sugar and salt. Fold in 8 eggs with scraper, rotating bowl, until liquid is absorbed and a wet, sticky dough forms. (Dough will be wetter than most you've encountered.) Scrape dough out onto an unfloured surface. (Dough will be a sticky mess. Don't be tempted to add additional flour. By working dough through a process of repeatedly stretching and folding it over onto itself, trapping air, dough will become cohesive and supple.)
Slide your fingers underneath both sides of dough with your thumbs on top. Lift dough up (to about chest level) with your thumbs toward you, letting dough hang slightly. In a continuous motion, swing dough down, slapping back end of dough onto surface, then stretch dough up and back over itself in an arc to trap air. Repeat lifting, slapping, and stretching, scraping work surface as needed, until dough is supple, cohesive, and starts to bounce slightly off surface, about 8 minutes.
Spread dough out on work surface and place butter over dough. Fold dough over butter to enclose, then continue working dough in same manner until butter is completely absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes more.
Transfer dough to a floured clean surface. Form into a ball by folding each edge into center of dough and pressing down firmly with your thumb, rotating ball as you go. Turn ball over, then stretch and tuck edge under.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured bowl and cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 8 hours.
Preheat oven to 400ºF with rack in middle. Butter brioche molds.
Transfer dough to a floured surface and cut in half. Cut off and reserve one fourth of each half, then form remainder of 1 half into a ball by folding each edge into center of dough and pressing down firmly with your thumb, rotating ball as you go. Turn ball over and put in a brioche mold. Form 1 piece of reserved dough into a ball. Make a dimple in dough in mold and place ball of dough in dimple. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until tripled, about 2 1/2 hours.
Beat together remaining egg with a large pinch of salt, then brush loaf all over with some of egg wash. Bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Cooks' note: Brioche keeps, wrapped with plastic wrap, at room temperature 3 days.