Braided Almond Brioche Bread Recipe

Sometimes, little boys who learn to braid hair on the playground grow up to be hairdressers, but not me. I quickly became a master of the traditional 3-braid ponytail and all the girls knew who to reach out to when their hair needed to be pulled back. I braided hair on the bus. I braided hair at lunch. However, recess remained my busiest time of the day.

My technique hasn’t changed much over the years but instead of applying my skills to hair, I opt to braid bread instead. When the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge recently started, I feared joining. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to commit to every bread, every week. It seemed daunting.

I reluctantly succumbed this week, brioche week, because I just can’t resist such a buttery bread. And, most importantly, I knew I could break out my braiding skills once again.

The baking challenge, founded by Nicole of Pinch My Salt, is a casual group of people baking their way through each recipe in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I purchased the book last year after making the most chewy and delicious bagels from a recipe a fellow blogger posted from the book.

Of course, I’ve only occasionally paged through the book and daydreamed about what I’d make someday. I hadn’t made a recipe from the book until now. While I wanted to try a traditional brioche, I also wanted to experiment and use the dough in a sweet bread. The recipe makes two loaves, so one I made as a traditional brioche and the other I added a sweetened almond filling.

Almond Brioche Bread

The book provides 3 recipes, each one with varying amounts of butter. The ‘Rich Brioche’ having 2 cups butter, the ‘Middle Class Brioche’ (which I made) having 1 cup butter, and ‘Poor Man’s Brioche’ having only 1/2 cup. The middle class brioche recipe is easy to follow, the dough consistency like a thick and chewy frosting. I refrigerated it overnight then shaped and proofed the following day.

I decided to add an almond filling to the bread and used a filling recipe found at Joe Pastry. Unlike most recipes calling for almond paste, this filling utilizes ground almonds, sugar and egg white. The filling flavor is more subtle than one’s using almond paste, but it worked in a pinch as I didn’t have any almond paste available.

To shape the bread, I weighed out three pieces of dough each weighing 6 ounces. I then rolled each one into an evenly shaped log about 12″ in length. I used my fingers to push down firmly in the middle of each log, the entire length in order to make a trough for the filling. I then filled the trough with filling and used my fingers to pinch the edges together. The result is a log with the almond filling running throughout its length. I then braided the log as outlined in the book.

Braided Brioche Brad

I followed the rest of the instructions as normal, proofing for 1 1/2 hours. After brushing with egg wash, I sprinkled with 1/4 cup sliced almonds. I baked at 350F (175C) for nearly 45 minutes. After cooling for about 15 minutes, I sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Almond Brioche Bread

The end result? A buttery, sugary, almondy bread. Tender and rich. Although the almond swirl wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to turn out (it ended up closer to the edges and not in the center), it tastes delicious.

Slice of Brioche Bread

Joe returned from a bike ride to find the finished bread cooling on the counter. After eating a couple slices, he deemed it the best afternoon snack ever.

Others BBA brioche experiences:
Rich and Buttery Brioche – Pinch My Salt
A Tale of Two (Make that Three) Brioches – Of Cabbages & King Cakes
If I were a rich, um … Flour Girl – Flour Girl
Accidental Rich Man’s Brioche – Goth Panda
Brioche (middle class) – The Other Side of Fifty
Brioche (middle class) – I can do that!
Poor Man’s Brioche – Skinny Jenkins
Let them eat almond filled brioche! – Pete Eatemall
Poor Man’s Brioche with a Dose of Rich Danish – Two Black Dogs

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  1. Wow!! That looks incredible. I love the crumb of your bread. I can’t wait til my copy of the book arrives! Hopefully I will be able to make mine as pretty as yours.

  2. Show off! ;-)

    But seriously, it looks absolutely amazing. So glad you decided to join us on this one, and hope that you’ll keep baking with the group, at least every once in a while. I still have never braided bread dough…but we have Challah coming up soon, so I guess I’d better get ready!

  3. Wow, great job, it looks fantastic and your photos are gorgeous! I once tried to braid a babka and the soft dough stretched out so much mid-braid that I freaked out, braided really fast and the babka ended up being about 3 feet long. Not exactly what I was looking for ;)

  4. Allen, these look wonderful! And I’m very impressed with your braiding technique! I also love the almond paste you used and the dusting of powderd sugar is a lovely touch! Yummm!

  5. Wow, your braid looks perfect and yummy, even with the almonds inside (I’m not a fan of nuts). I just placed a hold on that book at the library after reading your post. I’ve made more than one recipe from the bread apprentice book (from online sources) but have never actually looked at it..

  6. That bread looks absoutely mouth-watering! I’m still a bit afraid of more complicated breads, but one day will get over it! I need to in order to be able to enjoy a treat like this one!

  7. I don’t think I would have trusted a boy to braid my hair (and I did spend a large part of my childhood with my hair in braids – think Laura Ingalls from Little House on The Prarie and you get the idea!). Judging by your brioche, it doesn’t look like you’ve lost any of those skills :)

  8. This looks wonderful. I’ve never tried to make either a braided bread or a brioche. I can’t decide if you’ve awakened my competitive spirit or if I’ll be content to think whistfully about it…

  9. Hey, that looks like it was fun to make. Delicious looking for sure. While I could never commit to making all of the recipes, I may have to jump into the BBA challenge once in a while when I see something like this!

    I wish you had been around during recesses at my school. I always loved it when people played w/ my long hair, and I was pathetic at braiding it myself!

  10. That was an inspired idea to fill with almond filling. I bet your dilling was mych better than almond paste. Sometimes it’s a bit cloying. Your photos with labels in the handwritten font are beautiful. I’m very into fonts. What font is that?
    Try some of the other braids (4 and 5 strand) in the book. They are fun to make!!

  11. Kat: … lots of butter :-)

    Steph: The texture turned out wonderfully, such a delicious bread. Hope you get your book soon!

    Nicole: Challah is another bread that I love and look forward to making – start practicing your braiding skills.

    Madeline: A 3 foot babka? Sounds good to me :-)

    Susan: Purchased a great lamp at BoConcept – it’s exactly what I wanted.

    Peter G: Thank you!

    Memoria: It’s good without nuts too :-)

    Peter: Thanks!

    Patsyk: Surprisingly, this bread isn’t very difficult, just a few steps. You’ll have to give it a try sometime.

    Bergamot: Thank you!

    Kelly: Thank you!

    Carol: Well … I pulled a few ponytails too ;-)

    Daily Spud: Haha! I *can* imagine you with braided hair like Laura Ingalls!

    FearlessKitchen: Oh, come on … your competitive spirit is up and ready for a good battle. The next bread is savory, with meat and cheese …

    Lori: Jump on in to the BBA, that’s the beauty of it … come and go whenever you like. I could have done wonders with your long blonde hair :0

    Nico: Thank you!

  12. I laughed so hard with the first paragraph of this post! Hehe, Those experiences really helped you to make braided bread. It looks delicious!

  13. Wow, that slice with a bite out of it really speaks to me…

    Well done, Allen! I think I’m going to have to design a large counter for kneading bread in my (future) new kitchen!

  14. braid hair, barbie doll….. we all been there… is like a old recipe carries through generations, I am glad to see the braiding hair technique hasnt gone rusty and put into test in the kitchen. :)

  15. Looks so good! Wish I would have grabbed a piece of the brioche I left for my MOM! Yours it so pretty! It reminds me of the old bakeries in Cleveland where I grew up! Awesome!! Happy Baking!

  16. This looks absolutely delicious, soft and fluffy. I’ve been meaning to try a brioche some time soon and was on a look-out for the right recipe. Thanks for posting and sharing. I’m going to bookmark this for sure.

  17. I, uh, sucked at braiding when I was a kid. Loose, with all sorts of stray hairs all over. What does that say about me? But I knew I loved food, so when I grew up, I became a doctor. Ha ha ha :)
    Anyway. I love that you joined the bba group (been a while since your last bread post when you started to get into the bread groove), I can’t wait to see what comes next from you. And if ever I find that I don’t really like brioche that much, I’m pretty sure a crunchy sugary interior will pretty much turn my opinion around :)

  18. I’m so glad you joined the challenge :). What a great start. Fabulous results. I still have to make mine. I can’t wait to taste brioche for the first time.

  19. Wow. I haven’t looked at each and every one of our BBA Challenge blogs yet, but I’m pretty sure yours wins the I-wanna-reach-through-my-screen-and-grab-a-piece prize! Holy cow. Congrats on that creative loaf (from down in your old hood).

  20. I don’t doubt Joe being right! After a bike ride nothing would replenish your energy like a slice of freshly-baked, almond-swirled, buttery brioche! I understand why you succumbed, I absolutely love brioche and I make it any chance I get, it’s totally worth the long prep and the 3 lbs of butter!
    yours looks drool-wrothy :)

  21. Hey! Your brioche braid is beautiful! I wish i had thought to braid mine… as you can see on my site i went out and got the special brioche pans. Thanks for including a link to my blog – however did you find ME? So, are you planning to go through with the whole BBA challenge?

  22. Very nice job on this. I can just imagine the taste of that filling. And I can just see you busy braiding hair at recess. Hahaha! Clearly all that practice paid off. ; )

  23. Growing up with four younger sisters. I learned how to braid hair very quickly. I can’t tell you how many times we were late for the school bus, and one of my sisters screaming she needed her hair done. Day old brioche makes wonderful french toast!

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