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soft sweet bread or pastry

Still Life with Brioche by Chardin

Qu'ils mangent de la brioche’ (’Let them eat cake’) Marie-Antoinette did not say (although according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an unnamed ‘great princess’ did when she was informed that the peasants were protesting the lack of bread).

Brioche has a long and somewhat confusing history; it is yeast based, so like a bread, but rich and sweet with butter, eggs, cream, milk or brandy and often sugar, so like a cake. It should be golden brown on top and soft inside.

It was probably invented in the Vendée as a wedding cake, where they still make the richest brioche of all, the gâche vendéenne.

Pâte briochée is usually made as buns, or as a braided loaf, or as a base for other desserts.

Some classic brioches include:

Brioche au sucre: sprinkled with sugar

Une brioche Nanterre  achetée à Saint-André-de-Corcy (mars 2021).

Brioche de Nanterre: popular kind, made of balls of dough baked together.

Brioche Parisienne: the classic, two big balls baked on top of each other

Brioche tressée de Metz: three strands of dough, braided together

Brioche Vendéenne: big braided or round version, also known as Easter bread, or pain de Pâques

Cougnou: an oval brioche shaped like baby Jesus eaten in northern France and the Low Countries on Christmas and on St Martin’s Day

Gochtial: Brittany’s ‘secret’ brioche

Tarte tropézienne

Bread, pancakes, etc


Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Benoît Prieur , PD