BRIOCHE DOUGH       Nancy Silverton

For the sponge:

1/3 cup hot whole milk (100F to 110F)

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 large egg

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For the dough:

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, more if needed

6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

Makes about 2 1/4 pounds dough

Put milk, yeast, egg, and 1 cup flour in heavy-duty mixer bowl. Mix together with a rubber spatula until just blended. Sprinkle remaining cup of flour to cover the sponge. Let rest uncovered 40 minutes. The flour coating will crack. Add sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup flour to sponge. Set bowl in mixer, attach dough hook, and mix on low for a minute. Still mixing, sprinkle in 1/2 cup flour. When incorporated, increase mixer to medium and beat 15 minutes, stopping to scrape down hook and bowl as needed. During mixing, the dough should wrap around the hook and slap sides of bowl. If this does not happen after 10 minutes, add up to 3 tablespoons flour. Continue to beat a full 15 minutes. Work the butter by smearing it across a work surface with a dough scraper until it is smooth, soft, and cool. With mixer on medium-low, add butter a few tablespoons at a time. The dough will fall apart. Increase speed to medium-high for a minute, then reduce to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Clean sides of bowl frequently; if dough is not coming together after 3 minutes, add up to 1 tablespoon flour. The dough should still feel somewhat cool, soft, and sticky. Transfer it to a very large buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled. Deflate dough by placing fingers under it, lifting a section, and letting it fall back into bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill 4 to 6 hours. After this long chill, the dough is ready to use in any brioche recipe.