Saturday, June 14, 2008

Chocolate Brioche

I just got my first-ever stand mixer (yay!) as well as a new copy of Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. Both have proved to be truly wonderful! The first recipe I chose to make with both was Chocolate Brioche. My mom and I made brioche this past Christmas by hand, which was delicious but ultimately not so fun to make. So, I wanted to try a brioche recipe to see if it would be more fun with a stand mixer. Throw in some chocolate and you have a winner! The recipe is a lean brioche, meaning it contains less butter than a normal brioche, but it was still delicious either plain or with some butter spread on it. And even though I messed some things up along the way due to my inexperience with the stand mixer, the bread still turned out really well. Definitely a winning recipe!

The recipe says this would make great French Toast, which I think would be the case...but I will have to make it again to try, because we gobbled it all up too fast!

Chocolate Brioche (from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking)
Yields 2 loaves

For the chocolate butter:
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder

For the sponge:
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (one package) or 1 cake fresh yeast
1/4 c warm water
3/4 c lukewarm brewed coffee
1/2 c bread flour
1/3 c sugar

For the dough:
3 c bread flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the egg wash:
1 large egg yolk
1 T heavy cream

For the chocolate butter:
Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool. In the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until soft and lump free, about 1 minute Add the cocoa powder and cooled melted chocolate and beat until well incorporated. Set aside at room temperature.

For the sponge:
Combine yeast and water in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whisk until dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes until bubbly, and then stir in the coffee, flour, and sugar, forming a thin batter. Cover with plastic film and let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes, until bubbles form.

For the dough:
Sift together flour and salt into sponge, then add the egg yolks. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until the egg yolks are absorbed, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and knead dough for 5 minutes, until smooth and satiny.

On medium low speed, add the chocolate butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook. Mix until dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped chocolate and knead until incorporated. Scrape out the dough, shape into a ball, and place in an oiled bowl. Turn so the top is coated with oil too. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down. Let rise again until doubled, about 45-60 minutes at room temperature or 4 hours in the fridge (or overnight in the fridge).

Spray two loaf pans with oil. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in half. Using a rolling pin, roll each half into a rectangle with a width equal to the length of the pan. Roll up the rectangle and place seam-side down into the prepared pan.

Cover with oiled plastic wrap and proof until the dough fills the pans, 15 to 20 minutes if the dough is at room temperature and 1 1/2 to 2 hours if cold. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the egg wash:
Whisk the egg yolk and cream together in a small bowl. Gently brush with egg wash.


Bake 40-45 minutes until the loaves sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Remove from pans and cool on a rack before serving. When cool, loaves can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the fridge overnight and then wrap in aluminum foil and refresh in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Or, wrap tightly and keep at room temperature for up to 2 days (if they last that long!)

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