I wanted to try Flour's sticky bun recipe which uses Joanne Chang's brioche recipe. The sticky buns (more on those later) only use a 1/2 recipe so I used the rest to make some basic brioche. They were super tasty, all buttery and rich. I also made Nutella buns which were pure heaven. Don't let the lengthy instrucitosn intimidate you, the stand mixer is doing all the work. You just need to listen for that "slap slap" sound and follow the recipe.
As for getting the the brioche dough into the tins with the little ball on top, I used the technique from Sarabeth Levine's book. She does a great job of explaining how to get the brioche to bake up just right and even provides pictures.
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce (28 grams) fresh cake yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (82 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks; 310 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces
Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.
With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.
Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.
Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week or use it!
Butter twelve 3 1/2-inch-wide brioche tins. Carefully turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, but do not punch it down—its texture should remind you of a feather-filled pillow.
Cut the dough into 12 equal portions. (If you have a kitchen scale, each portion will weigh 2 ounces.)
One at a time, shape each portion into a ball on the work surface, taking care not to break the exterior of the dough. To do this, cup both hands around the dough. Carefully turn the dough in your cupped hands to gently shape it into a ball—overhandling will soften the butter too much. Place the dough on its side, with the rough underside facing one side. Lightly dust the side of your hand with flour. Place the side of your hand about 1 inch from the smooth end of the dough. Using the upper part of your hand, including the last finger, move your hand back and forth to cut into the dough, forming a small ball that is attached to the larger portion by a thin strand.