Butternut Brioche

8-inch butternut brioche

If I’m remembering my childhood correctly, there was a time when I didn’t like winter squash. Hard to believe, because I can’t get enough of it now: roasted or steamed; stand-alone, stuffed, or in risotto or pasta; with sweet spices or savory herbs. On top of all that, I have discovered it makes a pretty darn good brioche.

This bread is only lightly spiced so the squash flavor really shines through. Feel free to increase or tweak the spices to your taste. Also, it has less butter and sugar than a typical brioche; if you leave the pecans off the top, it could pass for dinner rolls, but the nuts push it over into pastry territory in my book. Either way, I think it’s a delicious and festive addition to a holiday table.

I’m sending this to Boaz (Grain Power) and Zorra (1x umrühren bitte) for BreadBakingDay #14, Colored Breads. Don’t adjust your monitor, the crumb really is this brilliant autumn gold:

butternut brioche crumb

Butternut Brioche

Yield: 1800 g (two 9-inch round loaves, or two 8-inch round loaves plus 10 rolls, or any combination)

Time (after squash is baked and cooled):

  • Mix: 20 minutes
  • First fermentation : one hour at room temperature, then overnight in the refrigerator
  • Divide and shape: 15 minutes
  • Proof: 2 hours
  • Bake: 20 – 40 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 78F

Dough Ingredients:

  • 840 g flour
  • 60 g egg yolks
  • 100 g whole eggs
  • 34 g milk
  • 480 g baked (until very soft) butternut squash pulp, mashed and cooled
  • 1.5 g (generous 1/2 t.) cinnamon
  • 0.8 g (1/4 t.) nutmeg
  • 0.8 g (scant 1/2 t.) ginger
  • 10 g (3-1/4 t.) instant yeast
  • 14 g (2-1/3 t.) salt
  • water as needed (I didn’t use any)
  • 126 g brown sugar
  • 226 g butter, cut into half-inch cubes, softened

Topping Ingredients:

  • one egg
  • finely chopped pecans (optional)


  1. Place flour, eggs and egg yolks, milk, squash puree, spices, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix at low speed for about 4 minutes. It is normal for the dough to be quite stiff at this point, but if the dough is too dry to come together, add just enough water to allow it to do so.
  2. With the mixer in medium speed, add the brown sugar very slowly, in 5 or 6 increments. Mix for about two minutes following each addition. (If you add the sugar too quickly, mixing will take longer.)
  3. Continue to mix in medium speed until the gluten reaches full development, i.e., you can stretch a paper thin, translucent “windowpane” from the dough.
  4. Turn the mixer back to low speed and add the butter all at once. Mix for a minute in low speed, then turn the mixer to medium speed and mix until the butter is completely incorporated. You should have a dough that is very soft and satiny, quite extensible (stretchy) but also strong and elastic (springs back after being stretched).
  5. butternut brioche dough

  6. Transfer the dough to a buttered, covered container. Ferment at warm room temperature (about 76F) for one hour, then refrigerate overnight (8 – 12 hours).
  7. Divide the dough into 36 pieces of approximately 50 grams each. Degas each piece. Form each into a tight ball by placing it on the counter with your cupped hand loosely around it, and moving your hand in a tight circle several times.
  8. For large round loaves, lightly oil two 8- or 9-inch cake pans and line their bottoms with parchment paper. Place 12 or 13 dough balls into each 8-inch pan, or 17 or 18 in each 9-inch pan. Any leftover balls can be baked as individual rolls, either on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in small, oiled brioche or tart tins.
  9. shaped butternut brioche

  10. Brush the dough lightly with egg wash made from one beaten egg. Cover and proof for about an hour and 45 minutes at warm room temperature.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 380F.
  12. Before baking, brush the dough again, lightly but thoroughly, with egg wash. Sprinkle with chopped pecans if you like.
  13. proofed butternut brioche

  14. Bake at 380F until the brioche has reached an internal temperature (use an instant-read thermometer) of at least 190F. This will take about 15 – 20 minutes for individual rolls and 30 – 40 minutes for the multi-roll loaves. The tops are meant to become a deep, dark chestnut brown, but if they become too dark you can lay a piece of parchment paper loosely over the top of the loaf after 25 minutes or so.
  15. Cool loaves in their pans for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

large brioche brioche roll

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    What a beautiful bread! I’ve been learning how to bake more bread and I’ve done a brioche in the bread machine (shameful I know) and I liked the taste of it. I’m bookmarking this and maybe I’ll bake it to take to Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws.

  2. says

    These brioche certainly look very festive! Do you think I could make this by hand? I’d like to give it a try, but don’t have a stand mixer at home. Something tells me the mixing will give me quite the upper arm workout though.

  3. says

    This is a great idea. Squash is one of those things everyone knows they should probably eat more of (betacarotene, etc.) but a lot of people really dislike the texture. This gets around that problem and probably smells great while baking too! The color is really appetizing.

  4. says

    You know, Susan, I just baked with butternut squash for the first time recently, and I was pleasantly surprised. I made muffins, but I’d love to try this brioche. The raffia ribbon is so rustic and pretty for this time of year. That bread would make a great centerpiece for a table.

  5. says

    I’m with Susan, this is a centerpiece! Gorgeous color and bread.
    I have to smile these days at all the squash I’m preparing and loving, as a child, well I’d have never requested any thing squash.

  6. says

    I love this! My whole life, my mom has made pumpkin bread on special occasions. It’s a loaf, not brioche like this, but it has a very brioche-like, rich dough. I love it, but I remember being very embarrassed when a kid in the cafeteria made fun of the “orange bread” in my lunchbox.

  7. says

    Gorgeous! I have tons of butternut squash and have to try this! Just one question — when you use your mixer do you use the flat attachment or the dough hook?

  8. says

    Thanks everyone!

    Jacqueline, mixing this by hand would be a challenge but certianly people made brioche before there were stand mixers so if you’re up for a workout, go for it!

    Tracy, sorry, I should have specified to use the dough hook (I’m going to fix the post now.)

  9. Linda says

    This bread was phenomenal!! Wow!

    I had a very wild yeast Thanksgiving – made the brioche, your english muffins and also the extra-sour sourdough (my new favorite bread).

    I served the brioche at 2 dinners to raves from everyone – this one is definitely a winner. The biggest challenge was making sure it didn’t all get eaten before the guests arrived…

  10. Joy says

    Is it possible to have the amounts of the ingredients converted from gram to cup for flour, and from gram to count for eggs?
    Thank you so much.

  11. Carolyn says

    I found this recipe several months ago while looking for brioche recipes online and it sounded so wonderful that I knew I’d end up making it. And I did, today. Absolutely delicious and beautiful to boot. I bake once a week for a cancer support group, and as my friend who runs the group said, “Sometimes we have leftovers but not today. We ate the whole box!” (I use an old wooden soda box lined with tea towels and the two loaves fit perfectly, with just enough room around them for some of the individual rolls.) Thank you so much for your wonderful recipe.

  12. John says

    These look pretty darn amazing, I would like to make the rolls for a Monday morning pick me up. Do you think that the dough (shaped) can withstand another night in the fridge and be baked directly from the refrigerator in the morning?

  13. Sandi recovering in Seattle says

    You are driving me nuts. I keep printing more recipes since I bought the book. Unfortunately the wild yeast has not yet arrived. These will be first on my list. I want to make them for a family get together at the holidays.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>