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Chocolate Swirl Brioche: A Reason to Start Baking Bread

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When it comes to baking with yeast, people generally fall into one category or the other: confident regulars or total abstainers.

Chocolate Swirl Brioche
Chocolate Swirl Brioche

If you are a bread baker, then I think I merely need to whisper the words “chocolate swirl brioche” and you’ll be off and running.

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If you aren’t, here’s a little secret: This bread is not as complicated as it looks. The chocolate swirl is nothing but chopped dark chocolate, and the rich brioche dough is soft and easy to handle.

Photo by Posie Harwood

This is a lovely recipe to introduce yourself to the attendant pleasures of bread baking: the push-pull of dough beneath your hands, the softness of the flour on your fingers, the quiet kitchen hours the recipe demands of you. The sweet-sour smell of yeast as it froths and bubbles; the gentle slump of risen dough as it yields to your touch.

Brioche is a particularly forgiving dough. Eggs and butter give it extra richness, which in turns makes it easy to roll out without sticking. I’ve made this bread with bittersweet, semisweet, and milk chocolate in the filling. Every iteration is delicious, so choose a percentage that you like or mix a few types of chocolate together.

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Photo by Posie Harwood

When baked properly, your loaf will rise above the pan and turn a dark golden brown. It will begin to brown before it’s fully baked, so test its doneness by rapping on the top of the loaf with your fingers. It will make a hollow sound when it’s ready.

Most recipes tell you to let the loaf cool before cutting into it, and my official advice is that you really should (particularly here because the chocolate will be oozing and melted and messy).

But between you and me, there’s nothing on this earth as good as a still-warm piece of buttery brioche bread.

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Chocolate Swirl Brioche

1e4d7b52 fd4f 4798 ae19 d0f715768358  ry 400 Posie Harwood

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Makes 1 loaf
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 1 packet (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus an additional 1/2 cup as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 eggs, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Note:

Because the dough rises so loftily, you might end up with some space between the upper-third of the loaf and the first swirl of chocolate, like I did. This isn't anything to be afraid of, it's just not as pretty. To try to avoid this, roll your dough very tightly around the chocolate before placing it in the loaf pan. You can also use a thinner layer of chocolate: I was heavy-handed with my swirl (because I love chocolate and excess!), which can weigh your filling down as the loaf rises.