Where does brioche come from?

Does it come from southern France? That’s very hard to say, reader Peg. “Probably not” is about the best answer I can come up with for that excellent question. Brioche is a very old bread, or rather to be more precise, it is a very old word for bread. Brioche as we know it now, full of brewer’s yeast, eggs and butter, has only been around for 200 years. Prior to that it was just a fluffy white bread…along the lines of what people used to call “cake” before the thing we know as cake was invented. Confused? Good. Me too.

The word “brioche” first appears in print right around the year 1400 in France. As to what sort of foodstuff that word denoted, what it tasted like or where it came from there are only guesses. My personal guess is that the enriched bread that is now called brioche came from Vienna, since Vienna was the center of the baking universe around 1800, and the Viennese were very much into enriching their breads with dairy. They gave the French both croissants and baguettes, I suspect they gave them brioche as well.

6 thoughts on “Where does brioche come from?”

  1. Nah. Brioche is French – even it’s counted today among “viennoiserie” (very little of which resembles the Viennese breads which led to the concept – brownies are sometimes considered viennoiserie too).

    One form of the so-called “Blessed bread” parishioners were expected (by turns) to provide resembles brioche and in fact by 1782 brioche seems to have been used in its place:

        1. I dunno…does brioche really go with fish? 😉

          Thanks Jim! That blob back there does indeed resemble a modern “tete”. Thanks!

    1. It’s Paris I think. Though the center of the food universe generally is Spain at the moment. It wouldn’t surprise me if Spain became better know for baking and pastry in the coming years. That’s a really good question.

      – Joe

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