1. MAKE THE SPONGE
2. In the bowl of heavy duty mixer, Add the yeast, milk, egg and 1 cup all purpose flour. Mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of flour over the top as if to cover mixture. Let this stand for about 40-45 minutes. There will be cracks on the flour surface at this point.
3. MAKE THE DOUGH
4. Add the sugar, salt, eggs and 1 cup of flour to the bowl with the yeast mixture. Using a dough hook, run the heavy duty mixer on low speed for about a minute , until the mixture is just about incorporated. Add the remaining half cup of flour and run the mixer in medium speed. Continue to beat, scraping the bowl as needed, for about 15-20 minutes. You will know when the dough is ready if it is coming together in the center of the bowl, and also attaching itself into the dough hook. You should see the dough slapping the sides of the bowl, like it is almost violently throwing itself to the sides white it still clinging and rotating with the dough hook. You should also hear the slapping sounds. ( If you don't see the slapping action after ten minutes into the mixing , sprinkle about 2 -3 tbsp of flour to the bowl. Continue to beat until you reach the slapping stage , giving the dough a total of about 15-20 minutes in the mixer ).
5. Now add the butter bit by bit. Make sure that the butter is in in room temperature, but not warm or oily. It should be pretty soft and malleable. It helps to enclose the butter inside a wax paper, press it down using your thumb or beat it with a rolling pin to give it a malleable consistency. When you add the butter, the dough will fall apart again for a moment. Continue to beat until you hear the slapping sounds again. This should take about 5 minutes or so. The dough is now , once again, clinging together in the center and in the dough hook with the slapping sound. Dough is sticky but shiny at this point.
6. FIRST RISE
7. Place the ball of dough into a greased bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Let stand in room temperature until the size is doubled, about 2 hours.
8. SECOND RISE
9. After the dough has doubled in size, simply lift it in sections until you have gone around the entire circle of dough, lifting and then letting it fall back to the bowl ( like deflating it but very gently. Do not punch the dough down.) Cover the bowl again with a plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. The dough will double in size again
10. ASSEMBLE THE BRAID AND BAKE
11. After the long chill, You need to divide the dough into three equal portions. Working with the dough still cold from the fridge, Use a scale or divide it as best as you can to have three equal parts. Using a weighing scale, each portion should weigh around 315-350 grams. On a floured surface, roll each portion of dough into a log using your palms and by pressing it and squeezing it to elongate. Continue to roll it until it reaches 80 cm. If the temperature in your kitchen is warm, work with the dough one portion at a time and refrigerate the other two portions. Similarly, if you feel your dough becomes warm and sticky to work with, chill in the fridge for at least ten minutes before continuing to roll it into a long log.
12. Now that you have three long logs, braid the dough as if you are a braiding hair. Neatly and equally space the knots as you go. Once the entire dough is done, form a circle by connecting the two ends of the braid and press the ends together to seal. Set this dough on a parchment paper and on a big baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let this rise at room temperature for about 2 hours until the size is doubled.
13. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat one egg with 1 tbsp of milk to make the egg wash. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the surface of the brioche dough with the egg wash. Give it a good amount of the mixture but be careful not to let the liquid drip. Bake on the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the top surface of the brioche is lightly golden and its temperature is 200 F. Glaze the brioche with your choice of toppings or leave it plain. Store them tightly wrapped in room temperature.