Lately, without any alarm sounding off, I’ve been waking up hours before I need to get ready for work. Since this has been going on for weeks now, I’ve come to appreciate that blissful period when you have no hectic schedule to stick to. An upside to this inability to stay asleep? Time to let dough rise and bake up a batch of these brioche au chocolat, quite a morning indulgence. So while the house is still quiet, I retrieve the newspaper from the front steps and head to the backyard to enjoy one of these pastries, the reigning silence only broken by the chirping of birds and the wind rustling the leaves of the elms, oaks and maples surrounding me.
Most of the recipes I’ve posted so far are for classic & comforting americana home-baked goods. Whipping up a batch of cookies or brownies is a great option when short on time, but you miss out on the satisfaction that comes from making dough. There’s something about sinking your fingers into the dough as it takes shape on a floured work surface that engages your senses. Although it is a more labourious and time-consuming effort, it feels essential. Even though these brioches are made of the same dough as the sticky buns, these pastries have more of a bread-like consistency. One of my tatse-testers thinks 70% chocolate is not sweet enough for the brioche au chocolat. I prefer the taste of pastry cream when it’s used as a filling rather than baked with the dough.
Recipe adapted from Flour
Yields 10 portions
315g (2 1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
340g (2 1/4 cups) bread flour
3 1/4 teaspoons (1 1/2 packages) active dry yeast
82g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp.) sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
120g (1/2 cup)cold water
310 g (1 cup + 6 tbsp. or 2 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces
300g (1 1/4 cups) milk
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
30g (1/4 cup) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 batch brioche dough
1 recipe of pastry cream
4 ounces (114g) bittersweet chocolate, 62% to 70% (I used 70%), chopped
1) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine both flours, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and eggs. Beat on low speed for 3-4 minutes.
2) Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for 3-4 minutes. The dough will be stiff and dry.
3) Add the butter on low speed, one piece at a time. Mix after each addition.
4) Continue mixing on low speed for 10 minutes. The butter must incorporate into the dough.
5) Bring the speed up to medium and beat for 15 minutes. The dough will become sticky, smooth and silky.
6) Bring the speed up to medium-high and beat for 1 minute. The dough should stretch a bit. If it is wet and loose add some flour. If it breaks off in pieces when pulled continue to mix for a few minutes. It is ready when you can gather it together and pick it up in one piece.
7) Place the dough ball in a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap directly on the dough. Let the dough proof in the fridge for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. At this stage you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
1) Mix the flour, salt and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.
2) Pour the milk in a medium saucepan and scald it over medium-high heat. (bubbles will form, but the milk isn’t boiling)
3) While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined.
4) Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer. The consistency will be thick and pasty.
5) Remove the milk from the heat and slowly pour it into the bowl of the stand mixer, whisking constantly.
6) Pour all of the mixture back into the saucepan.
7) Whisk vigorously and continuously over medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.
8) Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a heat-proof bowl.
9) Add the vanilla.
10) Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, placed directly on the surface of the pastry cream.
11) Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until cold.
Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
1) Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2) Flour your work surface and roll out 1/2 batch of brioche dough into a 10×20 inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick.
3) Spread the pastry cream over the whole surface of the dough.
4) Sprinkle the chocolate evenly over the bottom half of the rectangle (5×20 inch section).
5) Fold the top half of the rectangle over the bottom half and press down gently.
6) Slice the filled dough into 10 pieces (each piece will be a 2×5 inch rectangle). At this point you can individually wrap the pastries in plastic wrap and freeze them for up to 1 week. When you want to bake them, keep them wrapped as you thaw them overnight in the fridge or for 2-3 hours at room temperature before proceeding to the next step.
7) Place the pastries on the prepared baking tray.
8) Cover the pastries lightly with plastic wrap and let proof in a warm spot for 2 hours, or until the dough is pillowy.
9) Preheat the oven to 350F.
10) Whisk an egg in a small bowl.
11) Gently brush the tops of the pastries with the egg wash.
12) Bake the pastries for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
13) Let them cool in the baking tray on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes.
Store the brioches au chocolat in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day. Warm them up for 5 minutes at 300F before serving them.