Honey & Pink Peppercorn Brioche

Fact: writing recipes is hard. Perfecting them is even harder.

Not even the best of us kitchen people get it right the first time — I’ve read quotes from top chefs talking about how they’ve spent years developing and tweaking their signature dishes.

And recipes don’t happen in a vacuum, either — in the pastry industry, we walk a path that’s been largely paved for us, relying age-old techniques that allow us to experiment with new forms of presentation and flavours.

If you engross yourself in the work of others and you’re suddenly inspired, then that’s a gift meant to be shared and passed on, not horded and used to polish your own self image.

This issue is often on my mind, because I often see recipes online with no credit given to their original authors.

And it bothers me, because it’s ridiculously disrespectful.

I’m not going to finger-point, but I’m often disgusted by how some of the “big bloggers” out there fail to light the way for those ahead of them by dimming the lights on those behind.

You should never be ashamed to give credit or cite inspiration.

If a reader can flip through more than 5 recipes in a row on a pastry blog and not see a single “adapted from…”, then it’s likely you’ve been pilfering from somewhere (unless you’re David Lebovitz — but even he talks about his inspiration and the recipes picked up from colleagues).

In a nutshell: not giving credit — just don’t do it. Sheesh.

Anyways, with all that off my chest, I bring you an inspired recipe: honey and pink peppercorn brioche.

Michel Roux has a recipe for a  honey and pink peppercorn madeleine (gorgeous with a milky earl grey tea). Tosi has a recipe for black pepper brioche (but a brioche recipe without sugar, eggs, or milk).

Together, they make magic — and, although it’s my own recipe, I didn’t really do it alone.

Honey & Pink Peppercorn Brioche


  • 2 & 1/2 cups (400g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) whole milk
  • 2 & 1/2 tablespoons (50g) honey, good quality
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • 1 packet (8g) active dry yeast (or 15g fresh yeast)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons (6g) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) pink peppercorns, finely crushed & tightly packed
  • 10 tablespoons (140g) unsalted butter, cubed and kept cool
  • egg wash


Start by activating the yeast — gently heat the milk until it feels warm (but not hot) to the touch.

Transfer the milk to the mixing bowl, add the active dry yeast and stir to dissolve. The yeast should bubble up and “come to life” within 5 minutes — if not, you’ll have to throw out the milk and yeast and start over.

Lightly whisk the eggs to break them up, then combine the flour, honey, sugar, milk, yeast, eggs, and salt together in a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook.

Start the mixer on low and mix for 2 ~ 3 minutes, or until the dough comes together (scrape around the bottom of the bowl if needed).

Once the dough has come together, turn the mixer up to medium-high and machine-knead for about 8 ~ 10 minutes.

After 8 ~ 10 minutes, turn the mixer down in speed a bit and add the butter, one or two chunks at a time. Wait until the last chunks of butter are completely absorbed before adding more.

When all the butter is incorporated, the dough should appear smooth and shiny (but not greasy).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with the crushed pink peppercorns, and gently knead them in.

Form the dough into a ball, then place it in a large bowl that’s been coated with a thin layer of butter or vegetable oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the plastic wrap and gently press down on the dough to deflate it. Re-cover in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge overnight.

Brioche is much easier to handle and shape the next morning, so, when it’s ready, remove the dough from the fridge and shape it as you please.

Brioche à tête are pretty if you like buns — they should be 40 grams for the “body” and 10 grams for the “head” for a total of 50 grams. If you don’t have brioche à tête molds, you can always use a muffin tin coated with non-stick spray.

For a brioche loaf, simply line a 8 x 5 inch loaf tin with parchment and non-stick spray and drop 50 gram mounds of dough into it, arranging them to fit snugly in the tin.

After shaping, cover the brioche with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for its final rise — about 60 minutes.

After 45 minutes of waiting, preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

The brioche have finished their final rise when a gentle poke barely leaves an indent in the bread.

Brush a thin layer of egg wash over the top of your brioche, sprinkle with pearl sugar (or more crushed pink peppercorns), and bake for about 25 minutes for buns, and at least 45 minutes for a loaf.

Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

There’s nothing like the smell of homemade bread to drive you up the walls (in a good way)!

I stuffed a bun in my mouth as soon as the first batch came out of the oven, which gave me the patience to wait until the rest of the loaf had cooled down enough to eat with a generous slather of whipped butter and vanilla honey. Yum!

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22 thoughts on “Honey & Pink Peppercorn Brioche

  1. Very pretty, Christine (That last photo is stunning) and surely delicious: this goes on my list of things to make.

  2. Hehehehe, the little pudgy brioches formed from those shaped molds are too cute! I always love baking bread, because it makes my apartment smell amaaaazing.

  3. Beautiful brioche!

  4. billpeeler says:

    Looks beautiful! And great point about not giving credit – makes total sense!

  5. daisy says:

    I totally agree with your comments. Recipe attribution is an important part of food blogging. It really becomes about integrity and acknowledging someone else’s hard work, for as you so brilliantly stated, recipe development is hard work! That’s why I leave it to all of you more skilled and passionate about it. You all pave the way for cooks/bloggers like me to be inspired and be able to adapt your work, with proper credit, of course. The same goes for photos. I see my photos being used all the time without credit, and it is so maddening. Bottom line, give credit where credit is due!

    Now, on to those gorgeous brioche. I could eat a few of those little cute ones right now. They’re lovely! You are truly inspiring, Christine.


    • Christine says:

      Wow — I mean, first off, your photos are beautiful so I’m not surprised (even if it is terrible) that people are stealing them — but I wonder if there’s anything you can do about it? If you send them a take-down request, do they usually comply? Do they ignore you? Credit is so important… the Internet is full of thieves, geez. 😦

  6. sybaritica says:

    I love the shape of the individual little small ones. Sort of like ‘weebles’ .. or maybe baby ‘Daleks’ for Dr Who fans 🙂

  7. Michelle says:

    I agree with you 100% about the attribution issue. It drives me crazy. And, oh my, does that brioche look good!

  8. I have brioche dough in the freezer. I may have to make this bread with it!

  9. EveryCraving says:

    I want to make my own brioche soon! Of course, I couldn’t make “my own” because I can’t make my own yeast bread (always have to adapt or use another persons recipe with credit!). However, I feel like the simple things (brownies, cookies, ect.) can easily be created by yourself. What I mostly do is have an idea of what I want to make (ex: brownies) so I will do at least an hour of research on brownies like the different techniques to make them fudge-y, what temperate to cook them at, ect. I know that a little bit of coffee will enhance the chocolate flavor as will sea salt. Like from you, I learned for fudge-y brownies to cook them lower and slower. I take all of that info to create my own recipe, try it out (and if it’s what I envisioned it to be) then bam! My brownies are born.

    • Christine says:

      Yeah, I agree with certain things like cookies and brownies and such, making your own recipe is a lot easier because the medium (flour) is a lot more forgiving. Research helps a lot! Still, I don’t think I’ve ever made anything FANTASTIC on the first try — generally it takes at least 1 or 2 tweaks after the initial attempt to really get something right (at least for me).

      I had to make this brioche 3 times before I got exactly what I wanted out of it. 🙂

  10. Arin says:

    I thought you disliked making your own bread? What else would you use this brioche for besides toasting and eating directly?

    • Christine says:

      Somehow this comment implies that there is something wrong with toasting + eating directly. Of course, there’s always bread pudding, french toast, croque-monsieur, or, if it gets too old, croutons.

      • Arin says:

        No, with slightly unusual flavor components was wondering what uses you think would be best for it. I’m totally team eat bread as it is.

  11. Susan says:

    Hear hear! It drives me *crazy* when people don’t give attribution. We all get our inspiration from one place or another, and since pastry is so technique-driven, chances are we learned our techniques somewhere. That said, you’ve made a beautiful and original brioche! Lovely.

  12. Hi there! I have nominated you for the Blog on Fire Award. Check it out here:http://thegoodieplate.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/blog-on-fire-award/

  13. I like the way these things are shaped. They look like chubby little ladies who want to be eaten!

  14. Brenda Gale says:

    Hi Christine
    Love the look – and the idea – of pink peppercorn brioche.

    But is it correct that you only use 3 tbsp of milk + 3 eggs for 2 1/2 c of flour?

    It doesn’t seem like enough liquid, although I haven’t made brioche often.

    Thanks for the lovely site. You’re an inspiration.


    • Christine says:

      It didn’t to me at first either, but by the end my brioche was plenty shiny and sticky — truth be told, I made this recipe 3 times before getting it right and good enough to post. 🙂

      Milk and eggs provide liquid (or “hydration”) in brioche, but so do butter and honey, too. If you want to add more milk to the mix, you could definitely try doing so! Just keep in mind that you might need more flour in order to make the bread easier to handle — otherwise, there’s nothing wrong or not delicious about bread with high hydration levels (think ciabatta), although it can just be more difficult to keep from sticking to your hands and often needs a bit more time to rise.

      • Brenda Gale says:

        Many thanks Christine. Hadn’t thought about the honey.

        I’ll see if I can adapt the beautiful pink peppercorn loaf to a bread machine and will give it a try this weekend.


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