Natural Yeast Brioche Dough

natural yeast brioche buns1

Even though summer is fading along with our tans, I want to share with you my favorite BBQ-season bread recipe.

I’m talking about my new go-to hotdog and hamburger bun recipe. Oh yeah.

Brioche is the french name for the light and fluffy bread result of eggs and butter in bread dough. Pillowy is the word that comes to mind. Brioche can be baked as a sandwich loaf (called Pan Brioche) but the most common way to eat it here in the US of A is as bready bookends for barbequed meat, lettuce, and cheese.  Yum.

Given the incredible versatility of this dough, I had to share it even though the grill may have settled in for a long winter’s nap. Football season is just getting warmed up, and I have a recipe to share in a few posts that uses this dough and will make you a very popular party pal!

*Note: This dough does include eggs and dairy products, and while salmonella is killed during baking, be sure not to leave this dough in extremely warm areas to prevent the chance of the dairy spoiling. I have never had this happen, and “enriched” doughs like this have been used for centuries. Also, in the case of the eggs, if they were spoiled, believe me you would know.

natural yeast brioche hot dog

Natural Yeast Brioche Dough

Disclaimer: This dough may up your coolness levels to “legendary” (who makes their own buns any more??). It may also result in extra dinner guests who invite themselves over whenever they hear you are hosting a wienie roast, but who earn their keep by gushing “These are the best buns ever! I just loooove your homemade hotdog buns!” And so you let it slide.


1/2 cup starter

2/3 cup milk

1/8 cup honey

4 Tablespoons butter

4 eggs + one more for egg wash

1 tsp salt

4 cups flour*

*Remember that whole wheat flour will make these buns much heartier than your standard bun. When I am baking these for guests who may not be used to whole wheat flour, I will do 3 cups white flour and one cup whole wheat. For us I use all whole wheat, but pat the shaped “buns” a little flatter so they don’t overwhelm the hotdog after they are baked.


natural yeast brioche dough Preparing the Dough (at least 8 hours before baking)

Place starter, wet ingredients and salt to mixer. Add half the flour, then continue adding slowly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixer. This dough will remain slightly tacky even after it pulls away from the sides of the mixer. Do not add too much flour, it will make the dough stiff and difficult to roll.

Knead dough for 10 minutes, or until gluten is well-developed and dough is smooth. Place kneaded dough into a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 6-8 hours.

Shaping the Dough

Pull dough out onto a greased or lightly floured surface (only for white-flour dough).

Divide the dough into 12 sections, rounding each section and setting it to the side so all the rounded pieces are snuggled up against each other in a cluster. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Now shape for the desired bun type you want, and place them on a greased baking sheet to rise. Place the shaped dough close together, so that they touch as they rise and bake and create those signature tall sides.

Let rise for 1-2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen, until the buns have risen, but not quite doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Prepare egg wash: In a small bowl, beat one egg with 2 Tablespoons milk (or water).

Brush buns with egg wash. This gives the buns that beautiful golden-brown halo. When the oven is heated, brush them one more time, then place them in the oven.

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown (for pan brioche loaf, bake time will be about 35 minutes). natural yeast brioche buns


  1. cindi says

    so, if we don’t have either of your books at the moment….the starter that you call for; is that a regular sourdough starter? thank you :)) the recipe looks delish!!

  2. Stephanie G. says

    Make sure the starter you get is not “commercial yeast” based. Some people don’t realize that most “sourdough” starters are made with commercial yeast. What you are wanting is a Natural Leaven/Natural Yeast starter. You can even make your own from scratch. It takes about a week and is a fun experiment.

    • thebreadgeek says

      Agreed. The resources I give for getting starter are certified natural yeast, no commercial yeast. And yes, starting your own starter is very fun! I am working on a tutorial post for that right now!

    • thebreadgeek says

      Yes, it will make one large loaf, or 12 buns. The loaf can be baked in a normal pan, but will be more full. The bun quantity also depends on the size of the buns you want.

    • thebreadgeek says

      Sarah I have never tried this particular recipe with vegan substitutes, and I think that the results would be fair. The main difference would come from the flax, since flax works as a great binder, it doesn’t work as well as a stabilizer which is kind of the function it serves in a brioche. I would definitely say to give it a try and then see how it goes, then let me know!

  3. Lindsey says

    When you say that you use white flour for guests do you use your whole wheat starter? Or do you maintain a whole wheat starter and a white flour starter?


    • thebreadgeek says

      I used to keep two, but I found that my whole wheat starter works great in white bread. Most of the time you can’t even tell there is any whole wheat in it.

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