I am one of the biggest proponents of breakfast that you will ever find. I work two blocks from my apartment, and still get up two hours before I have to be at work in order to make a substantive breakfast and to eat it at a leisurely pace.
During the week I must have protein first thing in the morning. Most mornings I rely on a poached egg on toast to provide it, and the ancient family egg poacher that my parents packed me off to college with to make it.
But the weekends are a different story.
On Sunday mornings I desire something sweet rather than savory, warm from the oven rather than the stovetop. This is a result of years of enjoying my dad's Sunday morning breakfast confections — muffins, coffee cake, cornbread — they all took the sting out of the specter of school the next day. And now it is Patricia Wells' Chocolate Brioche that performs that same function for the work week that lies ahead.
These little pastries are quite simply lovely; I can think of no more apt descriptor than that. Rather than butter, the recipe calls for olive oil, which gives the recipe a certain austerity that I adore. And this austerity is perfectly tempered by a single morsel of chocolate melting in the middle of each bun.
The brioche take a little work, but much of the preparation can be done the day before, leaving only the shaping and baking to do, bleary eyed, in the morning. Once these very achievable tasks are completed, you can go about your business enjoying coffee, newspapers, your loved ones and a hot chocolate brioche.
Baby Chocolate Brioche
Adapted from At Home In Provence by Patricia Wells
Makes 12 rolls
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons lavender honey (or other fragrant honey)
250 ml (8 fl oz) lukewarm whole milk (about 105 degrees)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
About 1 1/4 pounds flour
90 g (3 oz) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Lindt Excellence, divided into 12 portions
For the glaze:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
Note: Because I don't have an electric mixer, I make this recipe by hand. I actually prefer it that way, because I think it makes it easier to get the amount of flour correct, but do as you please.
1. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, honey and milk, and stir to blend. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil, eggs and salt.
2. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at low speed until most of the flour has been absorbed and the dough forms a ball. Be careful at this step not to add too much flour, it is better to have a dough that is a little too sticky than too dry. Continue to knead the dough until soft and satiny but still firm, 4 to 5 minutes, adding additional flour to keep the dough from sticking.
3. Cover the bowl that you have mixed the dough in tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let the dough rise until doubled or tripled in bulk, 8 to 12 hours. (The dough can be kept for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Simply punch down the dough as it doubles or triples.)
4. About an hour before you plan to bake the rolls, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 even portions, each weighing about 90g (3 oz). With the palm of your hand, flatten each portion into a disc. Press a piece of chocolate into each portion of dough and shape into a neat round, pulling the dough around itself to form a tight ball so that the chocolate is completely covered with the dough. Place the portions of dough on a baking sheet, cover with a clean towel and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
6. Prepare the glaze: Place the egg yolk in a small bowl and beat lightly. Add the milk and sugar and whisk together. Remove the towel and brush each piece of dough with the glaze. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake until the rolls are a deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, turning the baking sheet from time to time if the oven is heating unevenly. Some chocolate may seep from the rolls, which is normal.
7. Remove the rolls from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. This step is very important if you intend to avoid a scorched tongue. If stored in a sealed plastic bag, the brioche will keep for 2 to 3 days. Simply reheat in a 400 degree oven for ten minutes to freshen.
Thank you for sharing, Laura! These look like the perfect weekend breakfast. Fortunately it's Friday so we're ready to go make them right now...
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