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Brioche's history and origins

Discuss about the Traditional And Contemporary Patisserie Practice.

Brioche refers to a French bread typically constituting large amounts of butter, about 20% to 80%, and eggs, something which gives it an almost pastry-like, flaky texture (Dupuis & Cazor, 2016). Interestingly, some recipes of Brioche are commonly mistaken for cakes. Brioche’s history dates back to the year 1404 when it was first introduced. It is believed to have been perfected in France with the inclusion of butter to almost every recipe that assisted in hiding the flavor of yeast or sourdough starter that is usually utilized. Following its origins in France, Brioche spread throughout Europe, and bakers now have thousands of recipes for this particular pastry. The conventional way to bake Brioche is in small fluted rounds with another small round of brioche on top (Felder, Abramowitz-Moreau, Gelberger, Barea & Felder, 2013). On the other hand, contemporary Brioche is shaped into cakes, pan loaves, or braided. Dough is often made and allowed to rise at room temperature.

The main objective of this report will be to compare and contrast the traditional and contemporary patisserie practice and why they have been adopted. The paper will specifically focus on Brioche and provide related information and findings. Graphs and tables will also be included in the course of this report, and a conclusion provided at the end.

France is recognized across the globe for its delicious pastry concoctions and decadent desserts, the latter being French, ‘desservir’, meaning ‘to clear the table’ (Curley, Curley & Lashras, 2014). Initially patisserie practices started out as a customary routine for serving things such as chees and fruits following a meal. This practice has now transformed into a full-blown art form where the French have perfected it. They started out by developing a complete repertoire of amazingly delightful and elegant cakes, pastries, and confections that have so far won the world many times over (Robuchon & Bienassis, 2014). Notably, the French made notable headway in patisserie practices as early as the 17th and 18th Centuries. What differentiates French pastries from other pastries of the world is the fact that they are usually extra flaky due to the use of a lot of butter. Moreover, creation of such pastries generally requires several hours, extreme commitment, and attention to detail.  Due to this fact, people only made Brioche during important holidays, especially since it required a lot of butter and egg yolks. This, at the time, proved to be quite an expensive task and the French could not afford to bake Brioche often. French desserts are quite delicate and elegant, and that is why the complex methods require a particular level of expertise to pull off (Kotler & Armstrong, 2016).

French patisserie practices

The European tradition of pastry making dates back to the shortcrust period of flaky doughs that were being used during the Mediterranean in old times. Phoenicians, Greeks, and the Romans incorporated filo-style pastries in their culinary traditions (Kraus, 2015). Additionally, Egyptians also produced pastry-like confections which were made through dipping of a baked flour cake in honey and using desert nuts as toppings when serving. With regards to the medieval cuisine of Northern Europe, pastry chefs managed to produce stiff, nice pastries since they cooked with butter and shortening (Goldsmith, 2010). Notably, a pastry that was for eating was usually made into small pastries constituting little birds or eggs often served at big parties. Romans and Greeks both struggled to boast of good patisserie practices because they utilized oil when cooking, something which causes the pastry to lose its stiffness. It was until mid-16th Century that actual pastry recipes were being introduced, and these were adapted and adopted in different European nations, leading to the myriad pastry traditions associated with the region (Krondl, 2011).

Today, many pastry chefs are using a combination of creativity and culinary ability in baking, flavoring with ingredients, and decoration. As observed, most of the baked products tend to require a lot of concentration and time, where presentation is a significant aspect of dessert and pastry preparation (Pfeiffer & Shulman, 2013). Interestingly, New Zealand has also taken up patisserie practices and engaged in the art of making Brioche. Being an island nation located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, New Zealand boasts of a rich history of Asian, European, Pacific Island, and the indigenous Maori cultures (Goldsmith, 2010). It is from this combination of cultures that the people of New Zealand came across the art of making Brioche. Most chefs in the island nation tend to follow recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, and also experiment on the modern way of making this particular pastry.

The main distinction between Brioche and normal bread is the ingredients used. The pastry’s higher butter and egg content is its identification, giving the loaf a buttery, richer taste in addition to softer texture compared to normal loaf bread that is found in supermarkets (Dupuis & Cazor, 2016). As indicated, baking a Brioche implements a rigorous and special baking method that consumes a lot of time. Since its introduction, Brioche has undergone numerous improvements over time by generations of bakers, and resulted in the ingredients and process that are utilized in the contemporary age.

European pastry tradition

A recent survey conducted in 2015 by Bread & Bakery Products revealed that the bakery and bread products market has continued to expand since 2014, rising in value by about 2.1% (Felder, et al., 2013). This particular growth is attributed to the ongoing surge in demand for speciality and free-from ranges bread combined with the impact of inflation on retail prices. Despite intense market competition, the pastry industry is expanding ever more vigorously. The consumption of bread, particularly Brioche, has experienced a major transformation over the past years where the market has also assimilated. The past dominance of conventional loaves is gradually fading with the increased demand for artisan products as well as extensive diversification in the marketplace in line with collective requests for choice and quite an adventurous consumer base (Cambell, 2017).

Notably, market forces have witnessed patisserie practices evolve from a staple of every household and an accompaniment to every meal, to a luxury product and a treat to be valued on its own merit (Sarramon & Abramowitz-Moreau, 2010). Such transformations are a representation of quality and health, two major drivers in the pastry industry. Furthermore, demand for quality has seen growth in premium ingredient-based goods lead to more diverse and advanced recipes, as is the case with Brioche. This is further consolidated by the progressively persistent effects of globalization.  It is anticipated that these drivers will remain prevalent in the marketplace. Additionally, emphasis is expected to result into on-the-go ranges, where fast and simple fixes will be even more prioritized, especially among the younger experts (Curley, Curley & Lasheras, 2014). Even though the drivers will be a contributing factor to further value growth, it will be restricted by the context of the ongoing decline in bread consumption.

It is important to note that geography tends to have an important impact on the prevalence of industrial or artisanal bakery production. That is perhaps the reason why in some nations like Sweden or Ireland, industrial baking is dominant while in other nations such as Greece, France or Italy, artisanal bakers produce most of the bakery products (Robuchon & Bienassis, 2014). This is represented in the table and graph below.

Table 1: Prevalence of Artisan and Industrial Patisserie practices


United Kingdom








Prevalence (%)









The 2008-09 economic crisis had a significant restructuring effect on the bakery sector where following a decline in the number of organizations, this number increased again two years later, and has so far stabilized at almost 155,000 organizations (Kotler & Armstrong, 2016). While the bakery industry consolidated, the productivity increased, boasting of increased turnover of about 95 billion Euros by 2011 (Kraus, 2015). A year later, this sector managed to generate a total turnover of 98.4 billion Euros (Goldsmith, 2010). This is represented in the table and figure below.

Table 2: Patisserie practices turnover in Europe between 2008 and 2012














The bakery industry is considered to be a large supplier of revenues and jobs for the European economy. Patisserie practices in particular, have always been present, dating back to the 15th Century where the French introduce Brioche, a French bread made with a lot of butter and eggs. These practices have presented a positive outlook due to its continuous evolution from a very fragmented artisanal business-founded industry, to a more industrialized one. Notably, consumer habits, baseline bakery sector structure and dynamics, or economic environment are at different phases in different nations.


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Goldsmith, R.E. (2010). ‘The goals of consumer relationship management.’ International Journal of Consumer Relationship Marketing and Management, 1(1). Pp. 16 – 77.

Kotler, P., & Armstrong, G. (2016). Principles of marketing. 1st edition. Harlow: Pearson.

Kraus, A. (2015). ‘Development of functional food with the participation of the consumer: Motivation for consumption of functional products.’ International Journal of Consumer Studies, Volume 39. Pp. 2 – 11.

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