My, what a busy time of year! I’m sure everyone else feels the same way.
In between wintery wedding cakes, business trips (pictured above is snowy Aspen), Christmas shopping, preparing for our puppy, and other work, it’s been hard fitting in any holiday baking. But the show must go on…
Thankfully we have a multi-tasking recipe to work with: brioche. I’m a big fan of brioche. Not only does it taste fantastic- it’s rich, buttery, tender… like the love child that would result from bread + cake. But it has many, many uses.
1. It makes THE BEST french toast ever.
2. Shape dough into balls and bake up into dinner or breakfast rolls.
3. Roll the dough out and use it to make cinnamon rolls or coffeecake.
4. Fry the dough for the lightest, most delightful doughnuts.
5. Cut up into cubes and make comforting, cozy bread pudding.
Now here is a recipe for: lemon brioche, posted awhile back. Omit the lemon for plain brioche.
But if you’re feeling a bit more decadent, consider making chocolate brioche. I like to zest in a little orange rind, but you can leave it as is, which is still delicious. Chocolate brioche french toast, topped with cherry sauce and whipped cream makes a memorable holiday breakfast…just an idea.
How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:
Adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard
- CHOCOLATE BUTTER:
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water (110 F)
- ¾ cup lukewarm coffee
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1¾ teaspoons salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- EGG WASH:
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Raw sugar, for sprinkling
- MAKE THE CHOCOLATE BUTTER: create a double boiler by placing chocolate in small heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the chocolate until melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Beat the butter until soft and lump free, about 1 minute.
- Add cocoa powder and melted chocolate, beat until well incorporated. Set the chocolate butter aside at room temperature.
- MAKE THE SPONGE: Combine the yeast and water in a large bowl and whisk until yeast is dissolved.
- Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, then stir in the coffee, flour, and sugar to form a thin batter.
- Cover with plastic and let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until bubbles form.
- MAKE THE DOUGH: Add the flour and salt to the sponge, then add the egg yolks. Mix until the egg yolks are absorbed.
- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and satiny. If the dough seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
- Begin incorporating the chocolate butter, 1 tablespoon at at time. This can be done by hand or by a stand mixer makes things easier.
- Mix until the dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chocolate pieces and knead until incorporated.
- Scrape out the dough and put it into an oiled bowl, turning once to coat the top.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1½- 2 hours. My kitchen was very chilly the day I made this recipe, so the rising time could possibly take less.
- When the dough has risen, punch it down by folding it 2-3 times. Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled in volume in the refrigerator, for 4 hours or overnight. If you're short on time, you can also let it double again at room temperature, about 45-60 minutes.
- Grease two 9 x 5" loaf pans.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough in half.
- Cut each half into 6 pieces and roll into balls. Place 6 balls per pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough double in volume. If the dough is room temperature, this could take 15-20 minutes; if the dough has been chilled this could take 1½ - 2 hours.
- Towards the end of the proofing, preheat your oven to 350 F.
- MAKE THE EGG WASH: by whisking the egg yolk and heavy cream together.
- Using a pastry brush, gently brush the surface of the proofed loaves.
- Sprinkle with raw sugar, if desired.
- Bake the loaves for 35-40 minutes, or until the loaves have an internal temperature of 180 F and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
- Remove the finished loaves from the pans and let cool completely on a rack.
- Serve, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap until ready to serve. The loaves can also be frozen for up to two weeks. Refresh in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes.
- Makes 2 loaves.
Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, increase the yeast to 2 1/2 teaspoons and 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour in the dough to 3 cups. The rising and baking times may vary slightly.