Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Brioche with chocolate ganache

I should probably admit that I'm not big on chocolate. I like it as an accent to peanut butter, and I'll certainly eat homemade cake if someone is kind enough to offer, but I don't seek it out. Unless, of course, the chocolate in question is coyly hidden inside pastry dough - then it's a whole different ballgame.

I received the Artisan Bread book last year, and I haven't had time to use it as often as I would like. This super rich, barely sweetened brioche was the perfect introduction - much easier to make than my usual recipe (no kneading!) and with the most perfect texture ever.

work horse
{work horse}

You can use the brioche dough for anything, really - the book has several excellent suggestions. I opted for a chocolate ganache filling, because I knew it would go over big with my chocolate obsessed family. And even a chocolate ambivalent person like me can appreciate this deliciousness. The simplicity of the dough provides the perfect foil to the rich filling.

brioche, ganache
{brioche, ganache}

You make a big batch of brioche dough (enough for four loaves) and then you can either store it in the fridge for up to a week or you can divide it into four pieces and freeze it for easy use later. There is something magical about having homemade ready to bake pastry in your freezer, I think. You don't need a mixer for this recipe, at all. I just used my Kitchenaid out of habit. The mixing is minimal and the dough is pretty soft, so you could easily do this by hand with a wooden spoon.

Brioche dough (makes about 4 loaves. Recipe from the Artisan Bread book)

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (I used milk instead, because I felt like it)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (no, that isn't a typo, and no, it doesn't taste salty)
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey (I actually used sugar and it was fine)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

:: Proof your yeast (the book doesn't mention this, but I always do it anyways). Mix your yeast with a little bit of sugar and the lukewarm water (or milk, in my case) and set it aside while you measure out the other ingredients. In 5 - 10 minutes it should look nice and foamy on top. If it doesn't, check the date on your yeast and try again.

:: Mix the yeast/liquid mixture, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter in a 5-quart bowl. The dough is going to rise quite a bit, so make sure your bowl is big enough.

:: Mix in the flour, using a spoon, until all of the flour is incorporated. (I actually used the dough hook on my Kitchenaid for this step, for maximum laziness) Don't worry about over or under mixing. It will be fine. The book mentions that you might have some lumps in your dough at this point, but they'll disappear during the rise. I didn't notice any lumps in my dough, but it's worth noting.

:: Cover (not airtight - I just draped a damp kitchen towel over the bowl), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours. You want the dough to rise and then flatten out. It was chilly in our apartment and when I checked the dough after an hour, I could have sworn it hadn't risen at all. I put the bowl in the oven (which was just a tiny bit warm, because we'd cooked in it a few hours before) and let it sit for another two hours and the dough popped right up. A nice patch of sunlight will have a similar effect.

:: Put the bowl (still loosely covered) in the refrigerator. You can keep it there for up to 5 days, otherwise you need to freeze it. If you want to work with the dough right away, I recommend letting it chill for a few hours - otherwise it will be soft and sticky and difficult to work with.

Chocolate ganache filling (enough for one generously filled loaf)

1/4 lb bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon rum (I left this out, because the rum flavoring tends to not go over too well with kids)
5 tablespoons corn syrup

:: Melt the chocolate (you can use a double boiler, but I highly recommend a microwave, if you're lucky enough to have one). Remove from heat and add butter. Stir in the cocoa powder, the corn syrup and the rum, if using.


:: Take the dough out of the fridge and cut off about 1/4 of it for each loaf you're going to make. Roughly shape it into a ball, using the heel of your hand to press it down and then shape it. You're basically just trying to warm it up a bit and get it ready to roll out.

:: Working on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle. You want the dough to be about 1/4" thick, but don't fuss over the thickness or the size too much. It all cooks into a blob regardless.

:: Spread the chocolate ganache over the dough, giving yourself about an inch of space on each side.

:: Starting with the short end, roll the dough up, thus enclosing the ganache inside. Again, perfection isn't the point here. Fold the ends over the seamed edge, and then place the dough in a buttered loaf pan, seam side down. At this point, I actually covered the loaf and left it in the fridge overnight. The next morning I pulled it out and continued on.

:: Let it rest at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours - it should rise slightly. The book recommends doing an egg white wash and sprinkling some sugar over the dough at the end of the rise, before baking. I didn't have time for that and it still turned out beautifully.

:: Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool, serve.

My chocolate ganache spilled out the sides quite a bit when I went to serve it, but I just scooped up the extra ganache and put it in a little bowl on the serving platter - the chocolate lovers in the house appreciated the chance to load up.

Next time I want to make this dough but fill it with homemade apricot jam instead. I'll let you know how it turns out.


  1. That sounds incredibly delicious! I wonder if you could even do a chocolate-peanut butter filling, or it might be too rich. Thanks for posting the recipe, I'd love to try it some time!

  2. As a suggestion, you may roll the dough out a little thinner and larger, spread the ganache thinner and roll it up like you would cinnamon rolls so it is spread throughout, then seal it. Thus less squishing out when you go to cut it!
    I love your blog and your photos so much, blog crush!

  3. isn't this brioche dough the nicest thing!? i made the traditional version last week, but man oh man... this chocolate filling is too tempting. i'll have to try it.

    ps. i also want to try artisan bread's recipe for beignets.. and chocolate filled beignets. mmmm.

  4. It's very refreshing to hear that there's another woman out there in the world who's not obsessed with chocolate. The fact that don't constantly crave it makes me feel like a bit of a freak.

  5. dear lord. unlike you, i live for chocolate and these sound irresistibly good.

  6. i live for chocolate too. maybe have a small obsession with it, so definitely going to attempt to make these, they look scrumptious!

  7. Oh no. Now I'm just going to have to find an excuse to make this. It looks delicious, and I, too agree that chocolate is best when wrapped in pastry dough.

  8. wow, and i AM a chocoholic... i wish i didnt "seek it out" as you said you dont really is my downfall. are these similar to pan au chocolat pastries you find in paris?

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  10. Thanks for sharing! I might have to make this over the weekend. I really like the idea of freezing the dough. Would you suggest wrapping it up in a few layers of plastic wrap? Is that enough protection from freezer burn?

  11. Wow! This looks amazing. I have been interested in making Artesian bread. I hear it can be really easy. Who doesn't want fresh bread at their finger tips?

  12. @ Brooke - sadly, I've never been to Paris so I can't speak from personal experience, but the book specifically mentions that this recipe is the closest your kitchen will get to a Parisian bakery!

    @ Stephanie - To freeze, you'll want to divide the dough up into four pieces, (or however many you have left) and then wrap it up well in saran wrap. A couple layers of saran wrap plus a layer of aluminum foil should keep it fresh for a month or two. I'll check the book to see if they have more specific recommendations.

  13. Rachel, you are my test kitchen.

    Just wanted to say I made the granola bars today and they are AMAZING. An awesome add-in: about a cup of the leftover crumbs from shredded wheat cereal. I spend enough on that organic shredded wheat... I'm going to use it all!

  14. well. i'm salivating.


  15. you're killin me, smalls.

    i might have to make these with some 72% venezuelan dark choco with CARDAMOM & ORANGE ZEST my friends brought me from SF. yes, i just might have to make that happen. thank you, o mixmaster goddess.

  16. oh my god that looks good...!

  17. Just popped across from Little Glowing Lights and am glad to have discovered your blog :) Your photography is wonderful. Those brioche look delicious :)

  18. Dang. I feel like I really have no choice but to go make this.

  19. These look AH-mazingly DE-licious. I will have to get over my fear of baking bread b/c this, this I cannot pass up.

  20. i'm sorry, did you just say brioche??? i just had a luna bar for breakfast and now i feel sorry for myself. i really have to try to make these at some point.
    and lily, you're killing me too with your talk of venezuelan chocolate with cardomom and orange zest.
    whatever, lemon zest luna bars are good, too. no they're not.

  21. im attempting this recipe tonight and tomorrow with jam!!

    thank you for the inspiration! i gave you the credit on my blog!!

  22. I made the recipe and cooked my bread in a convection oven. The top was really brown while the middle was not cooked at all. Any thoughts on baking bread in a convection oven? I ended up cutting off the top to serve as breakfast. I then put the middle back in the oven and cooked that until it was done. I guess all in all I had two loaves of bread:) Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  23. @ JET - So sorry! I wish I could give some troubleshooting tips, but I've never used a convection oven. Did you allow it to cool off pretty well before serving? Most bread continues to cook in the middle after you take it out of the oven, so it is important for it to cool completely before you cut into it. If you would like to serve it warm, you can reheat it briefly before serving. I've learned this the hard way!

  24. Would it work with less butter I wonder? I have been investigating brioche doughs and an old Betty Crocker book recipe (from the 50's or 60's) recommends a couple of sticks of butter (I halved the recipe and used the butter and it came out fine). Recently, though, I've been seeing recipes for brioche with just 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter. I wonder if less butter would still yield a fine pastry or roll or bun?

  25. @ anon - hmmmm... interesting idea. I haven't seen any recipes with so little butter, but it definitely sounds worth a try. I bet you could tinker with it and reduce the butter by some amount. I only make rich breads a couple times a year, so I've never bothered trying to cut the butter. If I made them on a regular basis, I would probably start experimenting!

  26. I just made this recipe last night and baked this morning. Oh man, this was the best ever!!!!!


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