"Let them eat (onion) brioche"

I never realized that whole Marie Antoinette thing was really about brioche. Everyone knows that she never really uttered that phrase, but did you know that it was mistranslated to begin with? It wasn't cake that the poor were dismissively told to eat, but brioche. Rich, buttery, golden brioche. When you think about it, it seems even meaner, doesn't it?

Brioche, after all, is the rich man's bread. Enriched with eggs, butter, and sugar; ingredients out of reach for most peasants. Ingredients that still make me wince as I add them to my cart today! The different variations of it are even defined as "poor, middle class, and rich" based on the quantities of butter included in the dough. It's really no wonder the girl lost her head...

My version really is a "rich" brioche that will all but make *you* lose your head! With the maximum butter content, plus a heaping serving of caramelized onions. I made this bread when I was sick and home from work and bored out of my head. Though I could not smell and could barely taste, I wanted to make something. We had frozen burgers in the fridge, mushrooms for sauteeing, stinky Stilton, but no bread.

So I made bread.

This recipe started out lovely and perfect on the blog, Bread Baby. I made few changes--really I just upped the amount of butter, used heavy cream instead of milk, and red onions since they were all I had. I split the risen dough into 8 4oz rolls instead of one big loaf and sprinkled sesame seeds on half of them.

It took barely any time or energy to prepare the dough (trust me, I had little of either). I popped them in the oven to bake just a few minutes after Eugene got home from the gym. By the time he got out of the shower, the aroma of caramelized onions and freshly baked bread had filled the apartment. It may have actually been the first thing my stuffy nose was able to detect that week.

The rolls were perfect with the burgers! The caramelized onion in the bread and the buttery richness really added a fantastic layer to them. The next morning, the kitchen still had that incredible aroma of the freshly baked rolls, and the temptation was too much to resist. We toasted the leftovers and filled them with smoked salmon, raw onions and cream cheese for a perfect little breakfast sandwich. Divided into even smaller portions (perhaps 2.5 oz), I expect these would also make great little dinner rolls.

Onion Brioche Hamburger Buns
Adapted from Bread Baby

**This recipe makes about 16 full-size hamburger buns**

4 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (105 - 115 degrees)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup butter at room temp
4 eggs (beaten)
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
7 cups flour (plus more if necessary)
1 minced red onion
Semolina or cornmeal (for dusting)
1 egg yolk, beaten (for egg wash)
Sesame seeds (optional)

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat slightly until it just bubbles, then turn off heat. Add the butter and let it melt with the cream as it cools.

In a medium skillet, melt 1 tbsp of butter and saute the minced onion until it is soft and smells rich and lightly caramelized. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Add the yeast, lukewarm water, and sugar into the base of your mixer and whisk briefly until it dissolves. Let sit for a couple minutes until the mixture starts to bubble a bit.

Add the warm cream, eggs, and flour to the mix and combine with the dough hook just for a minute.

Add the salt.

Now continue to knead with the dough hook for about 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary until the dough is silky and only slightly tacky (but not incredibly sticky). It should clear the sides, but still stick to the bottom a bit like a dough tornado.

Add the cooled and sautéed onions and knead into the dough well so they are evenly distributed.

Remove the dough and form into a large bowl. Place into a large bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap and a clean towel. Set in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for approximately 1 hour or until doubled.

Poke the dough gently to release any air. Reshape into a ball and let rise for another 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle two large baking sheets with a bit of semolina or cornmeal

After the second rise, divide the dough into equal 4 oz pieces (about 2/3 the size of what you want your final burger bun to look like). Use your hands to shape into little smooth balls by pulling all the dough down and pinching on the bottom. Place these on the semolina-dusted baking sheet, seam side down and press slightly to flatten a bit. Keep the rolls about 2” apart if you want them to bake separately or only about 1” apart if you would like the sides to touch while baking for that “pull apart” look that store buns usually have. Continue with all the remaining dough.

Take the final egg yolk and beat it gently with 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water. Use a pastry brush to gently brush the egg wash over the buns (this will give them that bit of gleam once baked). (Save the reserve egg wash for a second brush after the final rise)

Cover lightly with plastic and let rise for about 35 minutes. Brush lightly again with the egg. If desired, sprinkle sesame seeds over the brushed buns. I like to alternate the sesame seeds so that half of them have them and half don’t. This way people can choose what kind they prefer. You can also get creative here and sprinkle them with other things like dried garlic, poppy or pumpkin seeds, etc.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and the bottom has a hollow sound to the touch.


  1. Your brioche looks wonderful! I'll be trying this recipe very soon. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. That's such a great idea! They look really good. I haven't tried making brioche before, and I'll keep this in mind.

  3. Descending from The Chosen People of the One True Faith, I especially loved the cream cheese, onions, and smoked salmon combination.

  4. Brioche as hamburger buns would be welcome around this house! Thank you for the wonderfull motivation!


Hi there and thank you for reading! This blog is not currently active, so new questions are not being monitored. Please enjoy the archives.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Back to Top