Friday, February 24, 2012

Chocolate Swirl Brioche Buns

Things are getting tough in the C family home.

Little man has hit a new and very active stage. And it looks like it is going to stick around for quite a while.

This is making it quite complicated for me to be productive in the kitchen. Especially when it comes to cooking. Anything that requires time, attention or keeping my hands occupied is dangerous. And the more messy my hands, the more dangerous it is. Little man will play all quiet and content while I pour cereal. But knead some bread? Try to prepare raw meat? He's up on the furniture quicker than you can blink.

I'm trying to work around this, but you may notice that there may be some gaps in the pictorial narration of the food preparation for a little while... as hard as it is to cook and bake with an active toddler in the house, it's even harder to photograph the process at the same time.

Will I let that stop me?

No way.

So my lovely friend Lisa over at Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives is hosting Bread Baking Day #47. Now, as you may quickly deduce, I have not participated in any of the previous 46 Bread Baking Day festivities... probably because I didn't know about them. But upon reading about this one, I knew I would be participating. You see, the theme that Lisa chose for this month's bread baking festivities was one that I could not resist. Chocolate.

The hardest part of this challenge was choosing what sort of chocolate bread I wanted to make. The only rules were that it must be a yeast (commercial or wild - sourdough totally permitted!) bread that somehow incorporates chocolate. That leaves a LOT of options. After much searching, I found my inspiration in these beautiful chocolate swirl brioches. The poster indicated that they were inspired by another blogger's matcha (green tea) brioches, which were equally as inspiring, but I knew I'd be going with chocolate on this one.

Notice I said that I used these as inspiration. I decided that I would use Peter Reinhart's Middle-Class Brioche recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice rather than the brioche recipe provided in the post. I've been wanting to try it for a while and decided to use this as my opportunity.

The Peter Reinhart recipe begins with a sponge - a mixture of flour, yeast and milk that is the base for the brioche dough.

To this sponge, the remaining ingredients are mixed in. Brioche is an enriched dough, so there are plenty of eggs and lots of butter.

The dough seemed very thick to me at first, but once the butter was added in, it became very smooth and soft.

The dough was then set to rest in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, the first thing I did (well, okay, after feeding the kiddos...) was prepare the chocolate filling that would make up the chocolate portion of this bread. I knew from reading through all of the recipes that the Peter Reinhart brioche recipe that I was following would produce more dough than the brioche recipe provided in the post that served as the inspiration for this endeavor. Rather than divide the dough, since I wasn't sure exactly how much more it would be, I doubled the chocolate filling. Just to be safe.

The filling came together easily. A couple of egg whites, some sugar, some flour and some cocoa powder were mixed together.

That mixture was super thick, but was thinned out with the addition of boiled milk.

That combination was further cooked, and then butter was mixed in. The resulting chocolate, nicely thickened and smooth, was poured into a pan and set in the refrigerator to chill.

Once both the dough and filling were chilled, it was time to put everything together. I waited until little miss was at school and little man was napping so that I could take my time and also take some pictures.

The dough was gently deflated and rolled out into a big rectangle, then the filling was placed into the center of the dough.

Then the dough was folded around the chocolate.

Once the seams were pinched, the resulting rectangle was rolled out to become, well, a much longer, thinner rectangle.

This longer rectangle was then folded in on itself, like so:

Then this was rolled out again, and folded again in the same manner.

I love how you can see all the layers from the various foldings.

I was trying to be careful with my dough, in the hopes that it would stretch nicely without tearing or having the chocolate ooze through. I was actually really pleased with how strong the dough was, standing up to all of the rolling. But see how thin it rolled? You can see the chocolate through the dough!

The dough was rolled out once again into a long rectangle, but this time, rather than being folded, the rectangle was rolled.

And finally, it was time to see how all of those folds and rolls worked. It was time to cut the log into pieces.

And this is what I saw when I made my first cut.

My first response was "wow." I was amazed.

The original recipe called for the slices to be laid into baking rings. Not having baking rings, I put each slice into a well-sprayed well of a muffin tin.

The pan was then covered in plastic wrap and set aside to rest while I picked little miss up from school.

When we came back, we were amazed by how well they'd risen again.

And then we baked them.

Seriously, it was like taking out a tray of huge chocolate flowers.

We loved how they looked from all angles.

Seriously, how fun do these look?

We couldn't wait to taste these.

Just look at those rich, flaky layers.

And, trust me. They taste as good as they look. Little miss said that they are her favorite thing I have ever made and wants me to make them all the time. The rest of us love them, too. They are beautiful, tasty little indulgences.

This is how I like to eat mine.

Layer by lovely layer. Makes it last longer, and I get to savor each and every bite.


For a roundup of all of the delicious chocolate breads that were submitted for BBD#47, take a look here.

I am submitting this post to YeastSpotting - a great source for some awesome bread ideas and recipes!!

Chocolate Swirl Brioche Buns
(inspired by foodography by Chelle)

"Middle Class" Brioche Dough
(from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice)

for the sponge:
1/2 cup bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast (I used 1 tablespoon of active dry)
1/2 cup milk, lukewarm (around 90-100 degrees)

Stir together the flour and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl). Stir in the milk until all of the flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 30-45 minutes.

for the dough:
all of the prepared sponge (above)
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Add the eggs to the prepared sponge and beat together on medium speed using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer (or whisk together, if doing this by hand).
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the combined dry ingredients to the sponge and eggs and continue to mix (or stir, if by hand) for about two minutes, until all of the ingredients are hydrated and evenly distributed.
Let the mixture rest for five minutes to allow the gluten to begin to develop.
With the mixer on medium speed (or mixing with a large spoon), gradually work in the butter, adding it a quarter at a time, waiting until each addition of butter assimilates before adding more. This will take a few minutes. Continue mixing for about six more minutes once all of the butter has been incorporated until the dough is very well mixed. You will have to scrape down the bowl a few times as it mixes. The dough will be very smooth and soft.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly mist the paper with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the sheet pan and spread it to form a large, thick rectangle, measuring about 6" x 8". Mist the top of the dough with more cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate the dough for at least four hours or overnight.

Chocolate Filling
(adapted from foodbeam)

2/3 cup milk
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons butter

Bring the milk to a boil. While it is heating, mix the egg whites and sugar in a bowl until combined. Mix the flour and cocoa powder into the egg white/sugar mixture and beat until it is homogeneous. It will be very thick.
When the milk boils, slowly pour it over the cocoa mixture, whisking as you do (you do not want to wind up with scrambled egg-whites!). Transfer the mixture back into the pan and cook over medium heat until it is thick. Mix in the butter until it is melted and well incorporated.
Spread the mixture onto a baking tray that has been lined with plastic wrap. Chill thoroughly.

To prepare the buns:
(from foodbeam)

Remove the brioche dough from the refrigerator. Gently pat it down to degas the dough, then, on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle (roughly twice the size of the rectangle of filling that you prepared) (see the photos above for a better idea of how it will look).
Remove the chocolate filling from the refrigerator and place the filling in the middle of the dough. Fold the dough over the filling and seal the edges.
Roll the filled-dough into a long rectangle, then each edge into the middle, then fold the dough in half, so you will see four edges on the folded side. This is called a tour double.
Repeat this procedure again, rolling the folded dough into a long rectangle once again, then folding another tour double.
Roll the re-folded dough once again into a long rectangle (about 12" x 8").
Starting from a long side, roll the dough up onto itself to form a log.
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into about 1-inch slices.
Spray all 12 wells of a standard muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, or use butter to grease them.
Place each cut section into a well of the muffin tin, cut side up.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap, then allow the buns to rise for 30 - 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake buns for 15-20 minutes.
Remove buns to a cooling rack and allow to cool.

Note: The Peter Reinhart brioche dough recipe makes more dough than the brioche dough recipe used to make the buns that inspired this endeavor, which is where the shaping instructions come from. Knowing this going in, I doubled her filling recipe, and what I have posted here is for the doubled recipe. I followed her methodology to try to obtain results anywhere near as beautiful as hers. My buns wound up much bigger. You could probably divide the brioche dough into portions in order to obtain smaller buns, closer to the ones produced by the original poster, if you would like to do so.


  1. OMG, Shelley - I am BLOWN AWAY! I got youe entry and I had to come look. I can't even find the words to describe how amazing looking these brioche buns are! I am beyond thrilled that you submitted them to BBD #47! I'm also most definitely bookmarking them to make because they will impress the heck out of everyone, plus, it's brioche and chocolate, who wouldn't LOVE them? That said, no worries about location, and yess, I want in with you and Jenni! BTW..I'm tweeting and stumbling these beauties!

  2. I'm stunned, Shelley! Never seen anything like that! Looks gorgeous and I can almost taste the deliciousness! I'm so going to try that! You are so brave, you have little children at home and still come up with these marvels. Hats off to you! Bravo! Congratulations!

  3. Wow! These are seriously fabulous! Make my simple butter crescents look plain Jane by comparison! Just stunning and yum want to taste them!

  4. Those look so good, Shelley! I love the layering and the chocolate swirls!

  5. Amazing and beautiful! These buns are works of art!! I cannot wait to make these!!

  6. So I tested this recipe at the bakery I work at today, and we loved them. I think I didn't cook the chocolate as long as I was supposed to so my swirls didn't come out as clean when I cut them, but they came out amazing! Thank you for this great idea!

  7. I also am amazed!

    Lovely thin layer upon layer!

    I have put these at the top of the list to try.

    Thank you for sharing!


  8. I finally got around to posting my chocolate bread tonight, and I had to come by as soon as I saw yours. gorgeous!

  9. Thank you for sharing the recipe! I finally succeeded on the third try. The buns are yummy!


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