I know that I sometimes post some pretty complicated and difficult desserts on this blog. I work as a pastry cook, so making a 4 component dessert at home is pretty straight forward for me. Things that can sometimes scare a home baker, like making caramel or tempering chocolate, are as easy as can be for me. I don't mean to brag, but I'm trying to say that I know the stuff I put on here is not always easy for everyone to make.
Except these. These are easy for everyone to make.
I mean, yeah, you need a stand mixer to mix the brioche so if you don't have a stand mixer then I don't think you can make this (sorry!) but them's the brakes. Other than that, it's super easy! You mix up the brioche, let it rise, chuck it in the fridge overnight, then roll them out, roll 'em up, cut 'em, proof 'em, bake 'em.
Easy, right? I don't even know what's easy to other people anymore. Once you make 70 kg of almond cream, line 100 tart rings, or roll out 200 croissants on a daily basis, "easy" takes on a new meaning.
These look complicated - with all the layers and the "braiding" and the dark/light contrast, but in reality they're just logs of rolled up dough that have been cut in half. There's no laminating or complicated braiding techniques here, I promise. But there's no need to tell that to everyone else. You can just let them think you're a dough whisperer, a master of all things kneaded and baked.
These brioche are best served the day they're made (preferably warm from the oven!), but they are also pretty good the next day. I like to tear off chunks and dip them in hot chocolate or warm milk, but that might be a bit too decadent for a normal person to handle. But I recommend it because it's delicious.
Recipe from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
372 g all-purpose flour
8 g instant yeast
44 g granulated sugar
9 g fine sea salt
186 g eggs
63 g whole milk
167 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/8th inch dice
60 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
30 g granulated sugar
30 g alkalized cocoa powder
2 g vanilla powder
10 g honey
Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray.
For the brioche, place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix for about 15 seconds to distribute the yeast evenly. Add all of the remaining dough ingredients except for the butter and mix on low speed for 4 minutes. Add the butter a few pieces at a time, incorporating after each addition before adding the next. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and push the dough off the hook. Mix for a total of 30 minutes on low speed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Fold the left side over to the right, the right over to the left, then the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top so you have a "package" with the seam at the top. Place the dough seam-side down in the prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it ferment for 1 hour.
Repeat the folding process, place it back in the bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
For the filling, cream the butter until pale and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla powder and mix until incorporated, then add the honey and mix until incorporated.
Remove the brioche from the refrigerator and divide it into four equal pieces. Work with one piece of dough at a time while keeping the rest in the refrigerator.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one piece of dough to 40 cm by 20 cm. If the dough becomes too warm at any point, gently place it on the back of a sheet pan lined with parchment and refrigerate for 10 minutes, then continue working.
Spread one quarter of the filling onto the brioche using an offset spatula, reaching all the way to the edges but leaving 2 cm of dough bare on one of the long sides. Brush the bare part with water. Starting from the other long side, roll up the dough tightly and evenly. Once the dough is rolled up, gently roll the log until it is 50 cm in length, being careful not to squish or deform the dough. Cut each 50 cm log into two 25 cm logs.
Using a large knife, make a cut in the dough log, leaving 3 cm at the top uncut. Place the right half of dough over the left, then repeat until you have a "braid" of dough. Gently brush a bit of water onto the ends of the dough and press them together, then place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining doughs. You should have 8 total wreaths.
Place a piece of plastic wrap lightly on the surface of the brioche and let it proof in a warmish place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Note: I turn the shower on in my bathroom, let it run for 5 minutes, then turn it off. This makes the bathroom a little warm and a little steamy, but not too hot. I place the brioche on the counter, then close the door. This provides the most ideal proofing conditions that I can find in my apartment. If you do this, check up on the dough every 30 minutes to make sure it's not too hot!)
Preheat the oven to 330 F. Brush the brioche with egg wash, being careful not to drag any of the filling onto the brioche when you do, and bake until golden brown, abut 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Enjoy!