Brioche

1 package yeast
2 to 3 T sugar
4 C sifted flour, approximately
1 C soft butter
1 t salt
7 eggs
1/2 C milk, scalded and cooled

Soften the yeast in 1/3 C lukewarm water. Add one teaspoon of the sugar and one cup of the flour. Mix and then knead until smooth. Place the ball of dough in a bowl and cover with lukewarm water. Let the dough rise until in floats in the water, after an hour or less.

Put the remaining flour in a large bowl. Add the ball of dough, half the butter, the remaining sugar, salt, and two of the eggs, slightly beaten. Mix well with the fingers, adding enough milk to give a soft, nonsticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth.

Work in the remaining butter and two more eggs. Repeat the kneading. Lift the dough and slap in on the table until very smooth. Add two more eggs, work them into the dough, and repeat the kneading and slapping. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place (80 or so) until double in bulk. Punch and stir the dough down. Shape into a ball, place in a clean, greased bowl, cover tightly with foil, and chill overnight or slightly longer.

To shape the brioche, turn the dough out onto a floured board. Cut off about one-sixth and reserve for topknots of buns. Divide the remainder of the dough into eigtheen to twenty-four portions and shape each into a ball. Place in greased brioche tins. Cut the reserved dough into the same number of small balls. Dampen a finger slightly and make a depression in the center of each large ball. Place a small ball in each of the depressions. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, or about one hour.

Preheat oven to 450 and place rack near bottom. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it over the tops of the brioche. Place in oven and bake until well browned, about fifteen minutes.

From The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne. Labor-intensive, but the best rolls on this earth.

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