Gruyere Brioche Bread

From Lou Seibert Pappas.

Gruyere Brioche Bread

Yield: 1 large loaf; serves 8 to 10 people

1 package active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (105˚ to 115˚F)

Pinch of sugar, plus 1 tablespoon

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature

1-teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

½ cup warm milk (105˚ to 115˚F)

3-¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1-½ cups (6 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1-tablespoon milk

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add the pinch of sugar, stir to dissolve, and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until creamy. Add the 1-tablespoon sugar, the salt, and the 3 eggs, beating well. Add the milk and the yeast mixture. Gradually add the flour, ½ cup at a time, adding just enough to make a soft dough and beating well after each addition. Beat the dough until smooth, satiny, and elastic. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1-½ hours. Punch down, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To shape, turn the cold dough out on a lightly floured board and knead a few times to soften slightly. Knead in the cheese. Divide into 3 equal portions and roll each portion into a rope about 16 inches long. Place the 3 ropes parallel on a buttered baking sheet, then form them into a braid, pinching the ends together to seal. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1-½ hours.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Brush the dough with the egg-milk mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped. Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer from the pan to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into slices.

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