I have a friend who is a chef, and her specialty is “underground dinners”. She has these dinners usually about once a month, and they can pop up just about anywhere. She’s had them in private homes, art galleries, retail spaces, outside, inside, really anywhere people can eat. She has a loyal following of foodies who attend these dinners, and new people are added to the mix at every event. She holds them all over Los Angeles, and even at far off locations. She’s such a talented chef, and I’m always amazed at the complexity of the dishes she creates. Not only does her food taste incredible, but her dishes are plated skillfully and artistically.
Each dinner is themed, and the theme for her upcoming dinner which will be held right before Valentine’s Day is chocolate. All of the appetizers, entrees, desserts and drinks will have chocolate incorporated into it. So I was very excited when she asked me if I would bake the bread for her event.
One of the breads we decided to do is a white chocolate brioche. A brioche is a French bread made with a lot of eggs, butter and honey. Before the brioche is baked, an egg wash is applied to it, so when it comes out of the oven it has this beautiful shiny, golden texture to the crust. A brioche is traditionally made in little fluted pans, or in a loaf pan, but I wanted a more rustic look for this bread, so I just made it free formed. This type of bread is perfect for breakfast, or with a nice cup of tea, but we decided to throw caution to the wind and serve it for dinner.
I baked up several loaves today just to make sure, and (I hate this following term), OMG, were they good! A rich, tender crumb and lots of white chocolate…this bread belongs on your “bucket list”.
White Chocolate Brioche
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Makes four 1-pound loaves
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 8 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 16 ounces white chocolate chips
- Egg wash ( 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
- Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the water in a 5 quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
- Mix in the flour and white chocolate chips without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook). The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled; don’t try to work with it before chilling.
- Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), about 2 hours.
- The dough can be used as soon as it’s chilled after the initial rise.Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze the dough in 1-pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise times.
- If you have frozen the dough, defrost it overnight. On baking day, you can grease a 9 x 4 x 3-inch non-stick loaf pan, or you can free form it into a loaf on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
- Elongate into an oval and place in the prepared pan or sheet. Allow to rest for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- Twenty minutes before baking time preheat oven to 350 degrees. I use a convection oven so I lower the temperature to 325 degrees.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the loaf with the egg wash.
- Place the bread in the center of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until medium golden brown. Due to the fat in the dough, brioche will not form a hard, crackling crust. When I take it out of the oven I insert a digital thermometer into the center of the bread to make sure the internal temperature is at least 190 degrees. Too many times a loaf of bread has looked done on the outside, and when I’ve cut into it, the center is under baked. The digital thermometer is one of the best kitchen tools I own.
- Allow the loaf to cool before slicing or eating.