A pan brioche is a type of sweet bread and one way of preparing a rich French bread dough called brioche. The prepared brioche dough is quartered, loaded into a pan and baked, forming four portions of slightly pastry-like bread that can be torn off and eaten. Dough for this type of bread contains more eggs and sugar than typical bread, making it a richer and sweeter bread. This bread is fairly common as a mealtime roll in France, but it is also often served to guests alongside meats, cheeses, and spreads.
One thing that makes pan brioche different from other types of French brioche is the container used to cook it and the way it is divided. Pan brioche differs from other types of brioche because it is made in a circular metal pan similar in shape to a tart pan, which is similar to a pie tin but more cylindrical in shape. This results in a shallower bottom than other types of brioche, making this dish resemble a large roll.
Pan brioche is also baked in a way that forms individual tear-off portions of bread. While many types of brioche are baked into large, round or amorphous loaves, pan brioche is placed into the cooking container in four equal parts. Once the bread is cooked, these parts are torn off to form individual servings. Pan brioche is not made in a brioche mold, but in an oven-safe pan.
Brioche dough is sweeter and richer than the usual bread dough. It is made with yeast, but contains more butter, sugar, and eggs than most breads. Preparing a pan brioche is similar to making French bread, but the pan brioche is allowed to rise for a much longer period. While most typical breads are risen for under an hour, brioche dough is often raised in the refrigerator for half a day.
Yeast is bloomed in sugar and milk, then mixed with flour to form a malleable dough. After rolling the dough into a ball, the baker then covers and rests the dough to allow it to rise. Once the dough has risen to double its size, the baker deflates it by punching it down, then folds it into another ball, covers it in plastic, and stores it in the refrigerator for approximately another 12 hours. Historically, brioche dough was made with sourdough or brewer's yeast, but it is now more commonly made with ordinary store-bought bread yeast.