There is something about a soft and warm piece of bread that is immensely comforting and soul-satisfying, made all the better when that bread is sandwiched together with layers of creamy chocolate filling.
All you need is a mug (notice, I didn’t say cup because that would be too small!) of your hot beverage of choice — coffee, tea, hot chocolate (why not?) and you have a match made in heaven.
This recipe uses brioche dough, a type of enriched bread which is a cross between bread and pastry and contains lots of eggs and butter to produce a rich and tender crumb. Brioche is an extremely versatile bread and, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of shaping the bread into braids or making the filling, you can easily use just the dough recipe to produce a loaf or bread rolls and then use those as the base for French toast or a bread pudding.
You can also shape it into burger buns and sprinkle some sesame seeds on the top to use for your next foray into homemade cheeseburgers.
The best way to make this dough is in a stand-mixer fitted with a dough-hook. You could try to do it by hand, but the result will be quite messy, because you will need to incorporate a lot of cold butter into the dough and your hands would only make it soft and warm. To get the best result, make sure all your ingredients are cold and the butter is cold but slightly soft to the touch.
Chocolate Brioche Braided Buns
Brioche dough ingredients
125g butter (cold, cut in cubes)
4 eggs (cold)
50g milk (cold)
63g caster sugar
Weigh the milk and eggs in a separate bowl and all the dry ingredients (flour, caster sugar, salt and yeast) in another bowl. Combine wet and dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand-mixer. In a machine fitted with the dough-hook, mix the ingredients on low speed for two to three minutes until dough comes together. Then turn the mixer up to medium speed and start adding the pieces of cold butter one by one, waiting until each piece is totally incorporated before adding the next one. This should take about eight to 10 minutes. Once this is done, the dough will look quite elastic. Put the dough on a lightly floured countertop and cover with a cloth and leave to rest for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, make the filling.
125g butter (softened)
60g caster sugar
1.5 tablespoons honey
Pinch of salt
Using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter until it is pale and creamy. Add the caster sugar and beat for another minute. Add the cocoa, honey and salt and mix until well-combined. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
Shaping and baking
Divide the brioche dough into four equal pieces (each piece will weigh approximately 245g) — if you want smaller braided buns, you could divide the dough into six pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a 7x12-inch rectangle. Using an offset spatula, generously spread the chocolate filling all over the dough leaving a half-an-inch border on one long edge. Brush that edge with a little bit of water.
Now roll the dough into a log and keep rolling the log until it is about 15 inches long. Trim the ends of the log and then cut the log into two equal pieces. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Put the logs in the freezer for five minutes (this will make them easier to shape). Working with one half log at a time, use a sharp knife to cut the log lengthwise down the middle leaving ¾ inch at the top uncut.
With the cut side facing up, place the right side of the dough over the left side and continue to repeat to create a ‘braid.’ Brush the ends with some water and form the braid into a circle and pinch the ends together tightly. Transfer on to lightly floured trays leaving two to three inches between the braids and leave to proof at room temperature for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and egg wash the brioche braids before baking them for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the braided buns with a little melted butter while they are still warm for a nice shiny crust.
The writer is a professional chef and has a diploma is pastry from Le Cordon Bleu
Published in Dawn, EOS, Octoberr 18th, 2020