When you think of brioche, you probably think of brioche a tete, with its distinctive topknot and beautifully scalloped sides, though brioche can come in many forms, including brioche Parisienne (logs placed side by side in a loaf pan) and brioche Nanterre (rolls placed alongside each other, in two rows, in a loaf pan). 

Being the perenially lazy cook that I am, I love the ease of a single, large brioche loaf instead of fiddly individual top knots, requiring fiddly individual moulds. This loaf is based on the brioche Nanterre pattern, but of course, the tweak-happy fidget in me had to add her twist to it.

this is actually a  modest amount of butter for two brioche loaves *yikes*

The fact that these loaves harbour a delicious secret, morsels of dark and decandent chocolate, means I never need much prompting to make them, though they do require three risings instead of the usual two. Still, it's no pain as their wondrous texture and incredible, buttery aroma makes any trouble they entail, completely worthwhile.

Besides, I couldn't worm my way out of making these, if I wanted to; they are hubby's and my boys' most requested bread. When these make an appearance in the kitchen, lunches and dinners are given the cold shoulder. While brioche is most often associated with breakfast, it is also the dough of choice for such classic dishes as Beef Wellington and Salmon Coulibiac, even more so than the puff pastry that most gravitate to, these days.

pulled apart chocolate brioche

The recipe may seem involved but it really is easier than it appears. Don't let the additional kneading and rising steps fool you into thinking this is difficult. It truly does require more patience than any arcane or specialised skill.

sliced chocolate brioche

3 hr 45 mins    Cook 35 mins     Makes 2 loaves (10 slices each)

500 g (5 teacups) bread (high protein or high gluten) flour
2 tsp fine salt
2 Tbsp sugar
3 1/2  tsp instant yeast
5 eggs
100 ml (1/2 teacup) tepid milk
2 tsp vanilla extract (optional - omit for neutral flavoured brioche or if using for savoury recipes)
150 g (1 teacup) soft butter (at room temperature)
120 g (3/4 teacup) mini dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids) chips
Milk or cream for glazing

Combine flour, salt and sugar together in mixing bowl and stir with a whisk until well mixed. Whisk in yeast until well distributed.

Add eggs, milk and vanilla to dry ingredients and mix on speed 2 (low) for about 3 minutes. Scrape dough down into bowl, cover and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Continue mixing on speed 2 (low) for 8 - 10 minutes until soft and elastic. Scrape dough out, grease hands and form dough into a neat, tight and smooth ball. Grease inside of bowl well and return dough ball to bowl. Turn gently to coat ball then place seam side down and cover. Leave to rise about 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.

Gently deflate dough in bowl, return to mixer and mix again on speed 2 (low) while gradually incorporating in the butter, about a tablespoon at a time, waiting for each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. When all the butter has been added, stop, scrape dough down and continue to knead until dough is very smooth and shiny. This should take 3 - 5 minutes.

Remove dough hook, scrape down dough, neaten into a smooth ball, return to bowl, cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours. At this stage, you may refrigerate for up to 12 hours before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Grease and line two 10 cm (4 in) by 23 cm (9 in) loaf tins. Remove dough from refrigerator, divide into 22 balls. Keep balls covered with a damp cloth while you work. Flatten each ball into a circle, put a teaspoon of chocolate chips in centre of each circle and enclose chocolate with dough, pinching and sealing securely. Neaten balls and arrange 11 in each tin, as shown in picture above.

Cover tins with clean, tented plastic grocery bags and leave until doubled and tins are nicely filled. This should take about 1 1/2 hours but definitely less than 2 hours. Preheat oven at 200 C (390 F) 20 minutes before baking. Glaze tops of loafs very gently with milk or cream, making sure it doesn't drip down between loaves and tins.

Bake for 10 minutes before reducing temperature to 170 C (340 F) and continuing to bake for another 25 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before unmoulding loaves and cooling on a rack. Leave until completely cold before slicing or pulling apart.

it all comes down to the chocolate....