With less than a week away from the most wonderful time of the year (sing that to yourself in a Bing Crosby voice), I find myself frantically baking for this Saturday and Sunday. I love passing out goodies to the neighbors each year, and while we have stacks of cookies and bars, somehow a loaf of bread is most ideal. This loaf is extra special – with both a tender crumb and studded with chocolate and orange pieces, it is breakfast and dessert, a sweet indulgence to bring tidings of comfort and joy. This recipe makes two loaves, so you can make one for snacking and one for giving. Happy Holidays!
Chocolate and Orange Confit Brioche
Inspired by a recipe in Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft
2 1/2 pounds brioche (whole wheat brioche and challah will also work)
1/2 cup orange confit (recipe follows)(candied orange pieces can be substituted)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped into 1/2-inch shards)
egg wash (1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water + Pinch salt, mixed together)
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 orange, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed
Over medium high heat, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir often and dissolve the sugar.
Remove half of the syrup to a small bowl. Add the orange slices and bring to a boil. Drain the slices and discard this syrup (it will be very bitter).
Lower the heat to medium-low, add back the remaining syrup and bring to a simmer, swirling occasionally to coat the slices. Cook until it thickens (almost like marmalade), 10 to 12 minutes. Strain, and keep syrup for other use (like over toast or to glaze your breads).
Chop the orange confit slice, and set aside.
Lightly flour your work surface. Gently knead the chocolate and orange confit into the 2 pounds of brioche, and form into a ball. Let rest, covered with a kitchen towel, for 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces, about 200 grams each.
Place the dough into a buttered pans (I used Pullman pans, but a 9 x 5 inch pan will also work. It will produce a slightly squatter loaf, and you will need to cut a few minutes off the bake time.) Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly doubled in volume, 40-50 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375F.
Brush the dough with egg wash. Bake the loaves for 45-50 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and are fully cooked (or until the middle registers about 200F on a instant-read thermometer).
Let the loaves cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Dust with powdered sugar, if desire.