Stella Bread

How to Mix and Knead Brioche By Hand

In a previous video, I demonstrated how to make the ultimate hamburger brioche bun. Since I used a KitchenAid mixer for the kneading process, I received a lot of questions on how this dough can be mixed by hand.

When this recipe was originally formulated, I wanted to make it as approachable as possible. Lots of people are scared of baking bread from scratch, but even seasoned baker's still fear brioche.

These hamburger buns were so amazing, I wanted to share them with the world without incorporating a lot of extra steps or hand kneading, which is why I opted to demonstrate this recipe using a KitchenAid mixer.

But mixing this brioche by hand is not only possible, it's also just as fast and I dare say comes out even better!

To make this dough mixable by hand, there are four technical changes:


Change One - Scalding The Milk

In the original recipe, the milk was never heated. This is because plenty of gluten is developed during the extended kneading step with the dough hook attachment (15 minutes).

However, the whey proteins contained in milk will hinder gluten development. We deactivate the whey protein by first heating the milk above 180°F/82.2°C. The milk is then cooled to 110°F/43.3°C before moving on to the next step.


Change Two - Dissolving Yeast Directly In Milk

In the original video, we do a true autolyse, meaning the milk and flour is allowed to hydrate before the yeast, salt, sugar, and butter are added.

In the hand mixing version, I opt to whisk the yeast directly into the warm milk after it cools to 110°F/43.3°C. This ensures the yeast is thoroughly dissolved throughout, which will allow it to be fully incorporated into the brioche dough.

We still don't mix the salt, sugar, or butter at this time. Instead, we allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. This step allows the gluten structure to fully hydrate before we add the other ingredients and start kneading by hand. Salt, sugar, and butter will all hinder gluten development, so it's important to add these ingredients after the autolyse step.


Change Three - Blending The Dough Using Fraisage

Now we blend in the rest of the ingredients using a technique called "fraisage." In this approach, the dough is smeared outward on the table using the heal of your hand, and then scraped back into the center. This smearing and scraping process is continued for about 1-2 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly blended.

This is an all purpose technique used to hand blend rich doughs, not just brioche.

In true Jacob Burton style, I totally butchered the pronunciation of this word in my video. If you want to learn how to say it correctly, you can listen to the proper pronunciation here.


Change Four - Kneading Via Slap And Fold

Finally, instead of kneading with the dough hook attachment of a mechanical mixer, we knead using the slap and fold technique.

To knead via slap and fold, pick the dough up by the side, slap the front of it back down onto your work surface, fold the back half of the dough over the top, give the dough a quarter turn, and repeat.

Once you build up a good rhythm, it should only take 7 to 10 minutes at the most to knead this dough until it passes the windowpane test.



At this point, let the dough rest at room temperature for one hour and then place in your fridge overnight to rise.

From here on out, the instructions are exactly the same as laid out in our original hamburger brioche bun recipe.


Related Resources


The Ultimate Hamburger Brioche Bun - Video Recipe

Ask ten people what they like on their hamburger and you're likely to get ten different answers.

But let us pause for a moment and ponder what makes a hamburger truly great ...

... what we can all agree on is that the most fundamental building block for a great hamburger is a perfectly cooked patty sandwiched in between a fluffy, soft, yet sturdy bun.

In this video I demonstrate a new brioche bun recipe that will truly take your hamburger game to the next level. But first a little back story ...

... The Story of Wartface

There's this guy named Wartface.

He's been a long time member of the community (the best BBQ website I know of), and he stumbled onto when searching for information on bread baking.

Wartface quickly and rabidly consumed all my bread content, including the five audio podcasts and all of our bread baking videos.

But he wasn't satisfied; being a BBQ fanatic, Wartface wanted my help developing the ultimate hamburger brioche bun. Something soft and chewy, but still sturdy enough to stand up to Meathead's famous Steakhouse Steakburger.

So I made Wartface a deal; I'll give you a baker's percentage formula as a starting point for a hamburger brioche bun recipe. You make the buns, and then tell me what you do and don't like about them, and then I'll show you how to adjust recipe accordingly, using the baker's percentage. I figured if anything, this would be a good, practical example of how various ratios of ingredients would effect the texture and flavor of bread.

Honestly, I expected Wartface to bake a couple recipes, lose steam, and then I'd pick up the brioche bun project once my schedule freed up a bit. But Wartface became obsessed, baking recipe after recipe, hundreds of buns in all, coming back after each bake, taking my suggested tweaks, and then turning out another batch immediately.

After going back-and-forth a few times, Wartface sent an excited e-mail telling me that the latest formula had just produced the best hamburger brioche buns he's ever tasted.

A bit skeptical that we'd hit the mark that quickly, I baked numerous batches of the exact same formula in the Stella Kitchen, looking for flaws or possible improvements. We made hamburger after hamburger, and even served them to our entire restaurant staff as family meal on a couple of occasions. I finally had to concede that yes, these were indeed the best hamburger brioche buns I've ever tasted.

Now please keep in mind that I loathe using the word "best" as an adjective for food. It immediately shuts down the mind for forward progression, limiting future development.

But quite frankly, if I were to stop and describe what qualities make up my ideal hamburger bun -- chewy yet soft, airy but sturdy, complex in flavor yet subtle enough to not outshine the burger itself -- this bun fits the bill perfectly.

So a special thanks to Wartface for his obsessive determination in formulating this brioche bun recipe.


Mixing and Kneading by Hand

How to Knead Brioche Buns By Hand

Here is a video demonstrating how this dough can be mixed and kneaded by hand. Oddly enough, it's just as quick as using a mechanical mixer, and turns out an amazing dough.

The Scalable Recipe

Hamburger Brioche Buns - Sized

As noted, this recipe was originally formulated to accommodate a large, 8 ounce hamburger patty. However, it works just as well for sliders and normal-sized burgers.

Linked below are three recipes. The first is the original recipe with detailed instructions. The second and third are the exact same formulation but for 4 inch "normal sized" and 3 inch "slider buns" respectively.

This will allow you to simply select the size bun you want to make, pop in the number of buns you want in the yield calculator, and have the ingredient measurements auto adjust.

Tin Foil Baking Rings

Tin Foil Baking Rings For Hamburger Brioche Buns

In the hamburger brioche bun video at the top of this page, I demonstrate using tinfoil rings to help the hamburger buns hold their shape during proofing and baking. These foil "collars" or rings are convenient, inexpensive, and can easily be customized for any size or shape you want your hamburger bun to be.

However, there are a couple downfalls to this approach.

While the foil collars are reusable, you will only get so many uses out of them before they become gunked up and the dough starts to stick (even if you hand wash after each use). They can also be a bit time consuming to make, especially in large quantities. If you plan on making burger buns casually, then these foil collars will absolutely do the trick.

But if you want to bake these buns on a large production scale, you may want to invest in some tart rings or a brioche bun pan.

Tools Used

Related Content

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But Wait ... We're Not Through Yet!

That's right!

This exact same recipe makes makes awesome doughnuts as well.

After the overnight rest in the fridge, simply roll the dough to an even 1/4" thickness and form into doughnuts.

This was a project we were playing with at our last culinary boot camp. As you can see by the doughnuts in the picture above, we were experimenting with different ways to form the doughnuts.

My favorite method is simply using a set of ring molds as dough cutters. Use a 3.5" cutter to size the doughnut, and a .5-.75" ring to cut out the doughnut hole.

You can also portion the dough into balls (50-70 grams), flatten, and then poke a hole in the center. Gently stretch the hole outward to form a doughnut shape.

These "stretched" doughnuts won't come out as pretty as the ones cut with ring molds, but you'll have less waste this way, with no leftover doughnut holes or edge scrap to worry about. Plus the organic shape gives them a rustic, "hand made by grandma" look that I find somewhat endearing.

After forming the doughnuts, allow to proof at room temperature for 1-2 hours, or better yet, overnight in the refrigerator.

The overnight proof is preferable because the doughnuts will be easier to pick up and drop into hot oil without them loosing their shape. The doughnuts in the photo above however were simply proofed at room temperature before frying.

Once proofed, fry in 375°F/190°C oil  for about 3-4 minutes, flipping half way through (wooden chopsticks work great for this), until both sides of the doughnut are a light golden brown and the internal temperature is between 195-200°F/90.5-93.3°C.

Drain on a cooling rack and cover with your favorite icing or glaze. In the doughnuts pictured above, we did a simple glaze by thinning powdered sugar with a touch of water and lemon juice.

This recipe yields a very light, airy doughnut.


Why Is My Bread Dough Collapsing?

In this video, I answer a viewer question who is having issues with his bread dough collapsing.

Further Bread Baking Resources

This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.


Savory Caramelized Onion Scones - Video Recipe

In this video we make a savory caramelized onion scone recipe. For a scalable recipe with step by step photos, click here.

Ingredient List

  • 2 c AP Flour

  • 1/4 c Sugar

  • 2 tsp Baking Powder

  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda

  • 1/4 tsp Salt

  • 1 c Caramelized Onions

  • 1 c Butter, Frozen and Grated

  • 1/2 c Milk

  • 1/2 c Sour Cream

Savory Caramelized Onion Scones


This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.


Pancetta-Parsley Sourdough Bread | Video Recipe

This video takes our Basic Sourdough Bread Recipe and adds parsley and pancetta. It's great served lightly grilled with a little olive oil, topped with piece of sliced tomato and basil or for grilled cheese.

For a scalable recipe with instructions, click here.

Further Information

Tools Used

This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.


Eastern European Style Sourdough Brown Bread | Video Recipe

For a scalable recipe, please visit our Sourdough Brown Bread Recipe Page.

In this video we’ll be making one of my new favorite breads, an Eastern European style brown bread. This bread has a unique, complex flavor that comes from the addition of coffee, molasses, fennel seed, caraway and balsamic vinegar, just to name a few (oh yeah, did I mention the cocoa powder?).

This is one of those breads that really benefits from the use of a sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast because of how natural yeast responds acid. Commercial yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, doesn’t like super acidic environments. In fact, it’s most comfortable between a PH of 4-5. Its natural cousin (Saccharomyces exiggus) thrives in acidic environments, which is why sourdough bread (in the sense that it tastes sour) is actually possible.

So in this video, we’re not only using the natural sourdough starter to add depth of flavor to the brown bread recipe, but it is also better suited for the task of leavening, as compared to its commercial counterpart, because of the added acidity derived from the coffee, balsamic vinegar and molasses.

Methods and Terminology

If you are unfamiliar with the methods and terminology used in this recipe, please review the following audio lectures and videos tutorials before attempting. Once you understand the core curriculum linked below, this bread recipe and future ones will be much more achievable.

Alternatives To Using A Poolish Starter

This recipe benefits from the use of a sourdough starter because the natural yeast is much more resilient to acidic bread doughs (created in this recipe by the addition of vinegar, molasses and coffee). If you really don't want to use a poolish starter, mix the sponge ingredients together the night before as instructed in step one above, but add an extra 50g of bread flour and 50g of water along with 4g of instant or active dry yeast. Allow to ferment overnight and continue recipe as instructed.

Recommended Tools For This Recipe

This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.



How To Make A Basic Loaf Of Sourdough Bread | Video Recipe

In a previous Stella Bread Video, I demonstrated how to make a sourdough starter that could later be used to naturally levin any type of bread you desire. In this video, we take that starter and bake our first sourdough loaf, a 70% hydration boule that uses a large percentage of poolish starter for a quick rise, a small amount or whole wheat for a complex flavor, and a cast iron dutch oven to replicate a traditional hearth.

Many guests of The Cedar House and Stella ask how we make our sourdough bread that has become a signature part of our dinner service. This is the recipe and method that we use, the only difference being that our finished, formed loaves are baked in our wood fire oven instead of a cast iron dutch oven. The heat retaining capabilities of the dutch oven allow for a superior heat transfer and oven spring which is one of the major advantages to baking bread in a hearth oven. Enclosing the dutch oven with a lid during the early stages of baking introduces steam which is absolutely imperative for a strong oven spring and a crackly crust.

If I blindfolded my staff and had them do a blind tasting between this bread and the bread we serve at Stella, they would not be able to tell the difference. However, the straightforward simplicity of this method makes it a great introductory loaf of sourdough for the uninitiated, and a great base recipe to which you can add different flavored flours, herbs, spices, nuts, etc., to make your own unique sourdough loaf at home.

This video assumes that you have a strong sourdough starter and understand basic bread baking concepts as discussed in The Stella Culinary School Podcast.

The Recipe

  • 275g Warm Water

  • 500g Poolish Sourdough Starter

  • 400g Bread Flour (Unbleached)

  • 100g Whole Wheat Flour

  • 20g Salt 15g Salt (2%)

For a scalable recipe and written instructions, please visit our 70% Hydration Sourdough Boule Recipe page.

Notes About This Recipe

For more ideas on how to make different floured breads by varying the ingredients and method demonstrated in this video, please visit out recipe page.

Further Resources

Tools Used In This Video

This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.



How To Make A Sourdough Starter | Video Recipe

In this video I use an extremely simple method that calls for mixing flour with warm water, allowing it to sit for 48-72 hours until yeast activity begins, and then refresh/feed at set intervals for about five days, or until the starter is strong enough to levin a loaf of bread. If you've been around since the Free Culinary School Podcast days, you'll remember that in our sourdough series I recommended using fruit peels (apples/grapes) to inoculate your water and flour mixture with natural yeast.

After multiple tests, I've found that there is sufficient local yeast available on your hands, in your kitchen and in your flour, to get a strong sourdough starter going, and in a lot of cases, is much more forgiving then using fruit peels or skins. The reason being, unless your fruit skins come from a hyper local source (like an apple tree in your back yard or a neighbor's garden), then you are still technically importing and using a foreign yeast to inoculate your sourdough starter. At some point, the yeast that is naturally occurring in your kitchen environment will have to do battle with this "foreign yeast" which can kill your sourdough starter outright or give it off flavors (caused by dead or unhealthy yeast).

Tips For Making A Sourdough Starter
  • Always use filtered water, especially if your tap water contains chlorine and/or flouride, both of which can kill the yeast in your starter, especially at the early stages of development.

  • Start by making a 100% hydration starter (1:1 ratio water/flour), AKA a poolish. This is the type of starter that I prefer and will be using in upcoming demonstration videos for sourdough bread. Also, a high hydration rate (like 100%) allows the yeast to propagate faster as compared to a lower hydration starter such as a biga (usually around 60% hydration by the baker's percentage).

  • Once yeast activity begins, remove half of your starter and feed the remainder with the same amount of flour and water removed. So if you took out 400 grams of the starter, you would add back 200 grams of flour and 200 grams of water to the remaining starter.

  • Continue to feed your starter at the same time every day, until it becomes extremely active.

  • Once your starter can pass the "float test" 12 hours after feeding, it is strong enough to bake with. At this point, you can either bake your first loaf of sourdough bread or retard in your refrigerator, remembering to feed your new starter at least once a week.

Remember, this is the first step in your journey towards making great sourdough bread. We will be diving into different techniques and recipes in the coming weeks and months.

Further Information

This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.

How to Make a Basic Baguette | Video Recipe

This video will teach you how to make a great baguette in almost any oven.

Standardized Recipe

Tools Used In This Video

Further Information You Might Find Helpful

This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.

What is the Baker's Percentage? | Video

This video will explain and demonstrate the baker's percentage.
What is the baker's percentage?
Below is a chart that illustrates traditional ratios for common types of bread dough.
What is the baker's percentage? Hydration & Ingredient Chart

Further Information

This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.


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