Brioche is a kind of light bun mixture much used in France. It has many uses, and is much esteemed. It will not be found difficult or troublesome to make after the first trial. The paste once made can be used for plain brioche cakes, buns, rings, baba, savarins, fruit timbales, cabinet puddings, etc.
Dissolve the yeast-cake in a quarter of a cupful of lukewarm water. Stir it so it will be thoroughly mixed, then add enough flour to make a very soft ball of paste. Drop this ball into a pan of warm water (the water must not be hot, or it will kill the yeast plant). Cover, and set it in a warm place to rise, which will take about an hour. This is for leaven to raise the brioche. The ball of paste will sink to the bottom of the water at first, but will rise to the top later, and be full of bubbles.
Put the rest of the flour on a platter, and make a well in the center of it. Into this well put the butter, salt, sugar, and four eggs. Break the eggs in whole, and have the butter rather soft. Work them together with the hand, gradually incorporating the flour, and adding two more eggs, one at a time. Work and beat it with the hand until it loses its stickiness, which will take some time. When the leaven is sufficiently light, lift it out of the water with a skimmer, and place it with the dough. Work them together, add one more egg, the last of the seven, and beat it for a long time, using the hand. The longer it is beaten the better and the finer will be the grain. Put the paste in a bowl, cover, and let it rise to double its size, which will take four to five hours; then beat it down again, and place it on the ice for twelve or twenty-four hours. As beating and raising the paste require so much time, the work should be started the day before it is to be used.
After taking the paste from the ice, it will still be quite soft, and have to be handled delicately and quickly. It softens more as it becomes warm.