Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chocolate-Filled Chocolate Brioche

This could also be called “the bread that almost wasn’t”.  I measured out all of the ingredients to make it on Tuesday evening.  Then I read about this chocolate and cherry filled brioche that Katie at Making Michael Pollan Proud made.  I began wavering.  I started rationalizing with myself.  The internal chatter went something like this:

“The ingredients for my recipe are already measured out.  Just stick with your recipe.”
            “But Katie’s recipe makes more, so it wouldn’t be that hard to adjust the ingredients.”
“I don’t need to make that much brioche.  Just stick with your recipe.”
“Brioche freezes really well.  It would be nice to have some in the freezer.”
“There’s not enough room in the freezer most of the time anyway.  Just stick with your recipe.”
“There’s plenty of room in the chest freezer in the baking kitchen.”

And so on, ad nauseam.  By Wednesday afternoon I finally convinced myself that I needed to proceed as planned since I’m trying to do testing and costing on a lengthy list of recipes I want to try out for the farmer’s market next year, and I need to stay focused.  But I definitely won’t be forgetting about chocolate and cherry filled brioche.

When I first began thinking about chocolate brioche, I intended to use the recipe from Francois Payard’s Chocolate Epiphany.  I’ve been so thrilled with the Flour recipe though, that I was reluctant to deviate.  So instead of using the Payard recipe, I adapted the one from his former employee.  The student becomes the teacher.

The recipe below is for two regular-sized loaves, but I actually made mine as mini loaves and fluted rounds.  And I did remember my camera this time.  Photos below.

Chocolate-Filled Chocolate Brioche
Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang and Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard

2-1/4 cups (315 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour
2-1/4 cups (340 g) bread flour
1/3 cup (25 g) Dutch-process cocoa
3-1/4 tsp (11 g) active dry yeast (not instant)
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs (82 g) granulated sugar
1 Tbs (14 g) kosher salt
1/2 cup (120 g) cold water
5 large eggs
1-1/2 cups (340 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
1 cup (190 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Egg Wash
1 large egg
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch granulated sugar

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling (optional)

before adding the butter

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flours, cocoa, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and five of the eggs.  Mix on low speed for 3 – 4 minutes, until all of the ingredients come together.   Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl about halfway through.  Mix an additional 3 – 4 minutes after the dough has come together.  It will be rather stiff and seem somewhat dry.

slowly adding the butter

Still on low speed, begin adding the butter one piece at a time.  Mix after each addition until the butter cube completely disappears into the dough.  This entire process may take up to 10 minutes.  Don’t rush it. 

after the butter is added
Once all of the butter has been worked in, continue mixing on low speed for 10 minutes to completely incorporate the butter into the dough.  Stop the mixer a couple of times to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

after mixing 15 minutes

Turn the mixer up to medium speed and continue mixing for another 15 minutes.  Be patient – the dough will look really shaggy at first.  Eventually, the dough will look soft and sticky, perhaps even shiny and then become smooth and silky.  Turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for one minute.  By this time, the dough shouldn’t be sticking to the sides of the bowl at all and you should hear it slapping the bowl. 

the "pull" test

Stop the mixer and grab a piece of dough with your finger tips and pull it gently.  It should stretch and have some give without being sticky or breaking.  If the dough is still wet and sticky, add a tablespoon of flour and mix until it comes together, repeating as necessary to get the smooth, silky dough.  If the dough breaks off when you pull it, mix on medium speed for another 2 – 3 minutes to develop more strength.  Ultimately, you should be able to pull the dough together and pick it up all in one piece.

beautiful chocolate brioche dough
Place the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface.  Refrigerate the dough for at least six hours or overnight.  (At this point the dough can also be tightly wrapped in plastic, placed in an airtight container and frozen for up to a week.  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.)

start with a square of dough
To make brioche loaves, prepare two bread pans with buttered parchment and set aside.  Divide the dough in half.   Press each half into a 9” x 9” inch square.  (I made mini loaves, but the technique is the same.)


sprinkle with chocolate
Sprinkle half of the chopped chocolate over two-thirds of the dough.  

fold in thirds

Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. 

folded, sealed and ready for the pan
Press lightly to seal the layers and enclose the chocolate.  Place the dough seam side down into the prepared pans. 

Cover the pans lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot about four hours, or until the loaves are almost doubled in size.  When properly risen the top of the loaf should be rounded and even with the rim of the pan.

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F for at least 20 minutes.

Prepare the egg wash by vigorously beating the egg along with the pinch of salt and pinch of sugar.  You want to break up the white as much as possible.  Very gently brush the tops of the brioche with the egg wash.  (You’ll have a lot left over – just discard it.)  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired.

Bake the brioche for 35 – 45 minutes.   As you won’t be able to determine doneness by color, check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer.  The brioche should be 190°F.  Remove the pans to a rack and allow the brioche to cool in the pans for 30 minutes.  Remove the loaves from the pans and allow the brioche to cool completely on the rack.
mini loaves and fluted rounds
The brioche can be kept tightly wrapped for three day at room temperature.  If for some odd reason you still have brioche after three days, use it for toast.  The cooled loaves can also be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to a month.


  1. I love that internal dialogue you had. I have dialogues like that all the time. Your dough looks like it came together beautifully. I'd never heard of the pull test before, but it looks like your dough responded beautiful. I love the chocolate layered inside too. I think I need to get some of those mini baking pans so I can make some little bread loaves!

    1. It's refreshing to know I'm not the only one who has internal conversations!

      I am loving that pan! It's a Wilton "Petite Loaf Pan". I'll be using it again next week when I test a new gingerbread recipe. If I recall, it's about $12 but I used a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby and paid less than $8. I'm thinking I want another one so I don't have to wait for it to cool. (Another first world problem.)


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