Brioche is a highly enriched French bread, whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb. It has a dark, golden, and flaky crust from an egg wash applied after proofing.
Brioche is considered a Viennoiserie. It is made in the same basic way as bread, but has the richer aspect of a pastry because of the extra addition of eggs, butter, milk, and occasionally a bit of sugar. Brioche, along with pain au lait and pain aux raisins — which are commonly eaten at breakfast or as a snack — form a leavened subgroup of Viennoiserie. Brioche is often cooked with fruit or chocolate chips and served as a pastry or as the basis of a dessert with many local variations in added ingredients, fillings or toppings. Less rich versions of brioche are sometimes used in savoury meat dishes; most commonly stuffed with foie gras.
The word brioche first appeared in writing in 1404, and this bread is believed to have sprung from a traditional Norman recipe. It is argued that brioche is probably of a Roman origin, since a very similar sort of sweet holiday bread is made in Romania ("sărălie"). The cooking method and tradition of using it during big holidays resembles the culture surrounding the brioche so much that it is difficult to doubt the common origin of both foods. A similar type of bread, called "tsoureki" (τσουρέκι), is also traditionally baked in Greece during Christmas.
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