Homemade whole-wheat brioche buns

All bread should be brioche. Or challah, brioche’s jewish cousin. The two breads are perfectly savory and sweet, smooth and delicate on the outside and fluffy on the inside. A brioche bun right out of the oven floats on air.

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Brioche sounds intimidating, I know, but compared to rustic bread, which takes all day to make, or even challah, I’d say this brioche is faily simple. I say that now, of course. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how these rolls would turn out. I used about five different recipes as references, and modified the butter and flour content. Most brioche recipes use at least 4 eggs. Ina uses 6. I used 5. The biggest change, however, was that I decided to make my buns whole-wheat. If I was about to make bread with 1 3/4 sticks of butter and 5 eggs, I had to do something to reduce my risk for a heart attack…

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These buns turned out perfectly. I ate them with my mediterranean turkey burgers and an absurd amout of ketchup. It was a great night. The whole wheat flour I used made these buns lightly v. intensely whole wheat. They were still very fluffy and not overly grainy. I highly recommend giving this a try. Here’s how…

First gather your ingredients! You’ll need 3 cups of all purpose flour; 1 1/4 cup of wholewheat flour; 3 tbsp of milk; 1 1/2 cups of warm water (110F); 1 3/4 sticks of unsalted butter; 1 package of dried yeast; 5 eggs; 1/3 cup of granulated sugar; 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  As you can see, I’ve dumped the salt in with the flours. You will need two mixing bowls and two cookie sheets/trays lined with parchment paper or Silpats.

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First, “proof,” or activate, your yeast. For this recipe I used an entire package of dried yeast. Combine the sugar and the yeast in a small bowl along with the milk. Mix together so that the sugar dissolves. It helps to heat the milk a bit before combining. Once mixed, add the water.  I have a candy thermometer I use to make sure the water is at 110 F. If you don’t, you can stick your finger in the water and see how it feels. 110 F is just hotter than your body temperature. So if you feel absolutely no difference in temperature when you stick your finger in the water, you probably need to make it a tad hotter. Becareful not to make the water too hot. Yeast is tempermental–too cold and it stays asleep. Too hot and you kill it. Good luck;)  Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes. when the yeast is activated the top of the mixture will look like there is a creamy foam on top and the yeast will be full dissolved. If you don’t see this, throw it out and try again.

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Using a fork, beat the five eggs in a mixing bowl and set aside. Toss the butter into the mixing bowl and mix on medium in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until fluffy. Toss in 4 cups of your dry ingredients slowly (I use a 1/3 cup measuring cup and add the ingredients using the measuring cup, waiting until each 1/3 cup is full incorporated before adding another) with the mixer still on medium speed. When you are finished, the flour and butter mixture should look like crumbs (above). VERY slowly add in the egg mixture. The dough will slowly form and collect around the paddle into a ball (below). As you can see the dough is very wet looking. When you are finished, the dough should look very wet, but it should also look like dough and have a slightly rubbery(like dough) feel to it. If it is too wet, add an additional 1/4 cup of flour to the mixture (this is what I did to get the consistency you see below).

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Grease the inside of another bowl (mixing bowl sized) that you will use to let the dough sit and rise. Flour your hands and invert the mixing bowl onto a very lightly floured surface. Use a spatula to get the dough out of the bowl. Using your hands, mold the dough into a ball. If you need to sprinkle a little extra flour on your hands or on the dough, do so. The dough should feel slightly difficult to contain. The butter and egg content in the dough is high, so it won’t feel tough and easy to manipulate like cookie dough.  Place the dough “ball” into the greased mixing bowl.

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Cover with a damp dish towel and let the dough sit and rise for 2-3 hours or until the dough doubles in size. Go the gym while you wait;) Punch the dough down with your hands and then invert onto a slightly floured surface.

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Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.

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Form your buns by folding the sides of the dough in towards the middle of the bun. You can keep doing this until you achieve a nice round shape. Place the buns onto a silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet/tray. Pat the tops of the buns down slightly. Cover and let the buns rise again for another 1 1/2 hours. Don’t worry, this is the last time we’ll wait for the dough rise…

Pre-heat your oven to 400 F.

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Apply an egg wash using 1 egg and a small sprinkling of water. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

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Add a small pan to the bottom of the oven and pour a very small amount of water into it (1/3 cup) so that the oven is nice and moist inside. Pop the buns into the oven for 15-20 minutes. At the 15 minutes mark, start watching your buns diligently-they can go from light brown to golden brown to trash-can worthy in a minute.

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Remove from the oven and show these babies off. Slice and serve with mediterranean turkey burgers and save a few for weekend brioche french toast!

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Homemade whole-wheat brioche buns
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Fluffy brioche buns. Great for burgers!
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 8
  • 1¾ sticks of butter
  • 5 eggs
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 package yeast
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1½ cups warm water at 110 F
  • 1½ tsp salt
  1. Proof the yeast by combining the yeast, milk, and sugar in a small bowl. Mix together to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Add the 110 F water and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes at which point there should be a creamy foam on the surface of the liquid and all the yeast should be dissolved.
  3. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed in a stand mixer until light and fluffy
  4. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients. The mixture should resemble crumbs when you are finished.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the 5 eggs with a fork
  6. VERY slowly, add the eggs to the crumb mixture in the stand mixer-low-medium speed. The dough should form a ball around the paddle in the stand mixer.
  7. Add ¼ cup of flour to the dough if too wet.
  8. Invert the bowl onto a lightly floured surface.
  9. Form the dough into a ball and place into a large, greased bowl.
  10. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rise for 2-3 hours.
  11. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down.
  12. With floured hands, invert the bowl onto a lightly floured surface.
  13. Cut into 8 equal pieces.
  14. Form the buns by folding the sides of the buns inward.
  15. Place the buns onto a silpat or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet or tray.
  16. Cover the buns and let them rise for 1½ hours.
  17. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F
  18. Apply an egg wash using 1 egg and a sprinkling of water. Sprinkle the buns with sesame seeds.
  19. Place into the oven for 15-20 minutes, watching the buns so they dont burn.
  20. Remove from the oven and serve!


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