The holidays we used to take in France when I was a child were usually self-catered. I say ‘self-catered’ but what I mean is ‘mum-catered’. As a result hours of fun were to be had exploring French supermarkets (my brother and I were usually to be found in the chocolate aisle.) One thing I remember that usually used to end up in the trolley were little pre-packaged fingers of soft brioche stuffed with chocolate. What a treat! These are a slightly more sophisticated version of those brioche buns. Soft, stretchy, chewy, sweet dough studded with little pips of dark chocolate. Add a cup of freshly brewed coffee and you’ll be in breakfast heaven. If you don’t like chocolate orange (and I know one of you in particular really doesn’t – you know who you are) then leave it out but add 1 tsp of vanilla paste (or the seeds from a pod) to the egg mixture.
makes about 10 little brioche or 1 loaf
250g strong white bread flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
2 tsp dried yeast (about 1 sachet)
70g dark chocolate chips
zest of one very large orange
50g butter (melted)
Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, yeast and orange zest. Stir through the chocolate chips. In a separate bowl or jug beat together the eggs and buttermilk. Set aside two tablespoons of this for glazing the brioche later. Add the melted butter to the remaining egg mixture. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and mix it together. I find a butter knife is the easiest thing to use here, it doesn’t get all gummed-up the way a spoon would. Once everything has come together to form a nice soft dough you can turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it for a few minutes, until it starts to feel springy. Wash the bowl so that it is clean and warm then lightly oil it. Oil a piece of cling film too and put the dough in the bowl before covering it. Pop it somewhere warm and leave it for one hour, or until it has doubled in size. Lightly brush some brioche moulds/a cupcake tin/loaf pan with a little oil.
Once the dough has risen (it should be quite soft and spongy) give it another quick knead. Either shape it into a loaf or, if you’re making little brioche, roll it into a sausage shape. Divide this into 10 equal pieces (you can weigh them if you’re a bit of a perfectionist) and then roll each piece into a ball. If you aren’t using brioche tins then these actually look quite pretty if you roll them out into smaller sausages and then tie them in a knot. Pop them into the prepared moulds and re-cover them with the cling film. Leave them to rise for another hour. Pre-heat the oven to 220°c. Once the dough has risen again you simply need to brush each brioche with a little of the reserved egg wash and then bake them for about 15 minutes, until they are golden brown. Leave to cool a little on a wire rack before removing them from the moulds. These are best eaten whilst they’re fresh but you can freeze them and then re-warm them a little before serving them.