Makes 4 loaves. I usually make two plain and two plaited chocolate chip. This one really needs a stand mixer and a bit of patience, resting the dough often. Replacing the chocolate chips with dried fruit, nuts or peel works fine too.
Approx 300ml Milk
10g Fresh yeast (or equivalent dried).
700g Strong white flour
300g Type 55 French white flour (Use 1kg strong white if no T55 available)
175g Butter, room temperature
25g Cocoa butter, melted (or 25g more butter if not available)
125g White or light brown sugar (Golden granulated is good, and if it's had a vanilla pod stored in it, so much the better)
100g plain chocolate chips for each chocolate brioche (max 400g)
Heat 200 ml milk to 45˚C and stir in honey, then yeast.
When it's frothy, add the eggs, and enough milk to make this addition up to 450ml (so 650ml in all including the warmed milk).
Add salt and mix thoroughly.
Add flour, mix dryness out, leave 20 mins.
Knead until very smooth and elastic, taking frequent breaks for dough to rest.
Melt the cocoa butter and whisk it with the butter. If omitting cocoa butter, whisk the butter anyway.
Add the butter to the dough while continuing to knead, resting when necessary, a dessert spoonful at a time, always allowing one lot of butter to incorporate fully before adding more.
Add the sugar, spoon by spoon, in the same way, while alternately kneading and resting the dough.
Once everything's fully incorporated, knead until fully smooth and the sugary stickiness is gone, then leave to rise, covered, until doubled in volume (at least 1 hour).
Divide the dough into four. This dough needs gentle handling and can be easier to deal with using lightly buttered hands.
For plain brioche gently stretch a portion out into the largest rectangle you can manage, roll it up, then coil the roll, finally rounding into a ball and leave to rise, seam side down, in a tall, well-buttered brioche or pandoro pan.
For a chocolate chip version divide a portion further into three parts and gently stretch each part out into a rectangle. Scatter 100g of plain chocolate chips between the 3 rectangles, then roll up (starting at the short side) into sausage shapes. Roll them out 30cm long, then plait them together. Tuck the plait ends under and leave to rise, covered, in a well-buttered 1kg loaf tin.
Allow to rise for about 2 hours. The plain version should rise until it's very light indeed, quadrupling in volume, the chocolate one won't sustain quite as much lift and should be baked a little earlier after tripling in volume.
Bake the plain version for 17-19 mins at 200˚C. Give the chocolate plaited version a little longer, about 22-24 mins.
For an extra touch, brush the crust with milk after baking, dust with vanilla sugar and bake for 1 minute more.
Allow to cool for at least 10 mins before releasing from the tin.