This is a braided sourdough brioche with marbled cocoa layers. This is similar to the recipe I adapted for the sourdough brioche couronne, except it has added sugar and some cocoa powder to get that marbling effect. I have made this twice before – sadly the first time I made it I dropped it on the floor right after taking it out of the oven – and it broke apart because it was still warm. I was very sad! I didn’t even get time to take a picture before I dropped it! Anyway I was determined to make it again, and so here it is. I’ve seen this marbling effect used in Tangzhong style Chinese breads, but thought it would be interesting to use it in a brioche. This does take a little while to make (2-3 days) but obviously a lot of the time it’s just waiting about for the dough to work its magic on its own. And I always say this but it is really worth it 🙂 Just don’t do what I did and drop it as soon as it’s out of the oven! A baker’s nightmare!
50g of 100% hydration sourdough starter – should be active and bubbly
100g strong white flour
All of the 200g sponge made the night before
375g strong white flour
95g whole milk
250g unsalted butter, chopped in pieces (you can use salted butter,
just adjust the amount of salt in the recipe accordingly)
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
Mix together all the ingredients for the sponge. Mix until smooth and all the flour is combined. Cover with cling film, then leave to rest for 8-12 hours overnight – it is ready when it has lots of nice air bubbles.
In the morning, mix the sponge with the milk to loosen it. Then add all the rest of the ingredients apart from the butter and cocoa powder. Mix until everything comes together, then tip this rough ball of dough on to a surface. Knead until the dough looks smooth, soft and shiny.
Next, knead in about half the butter. The dough will be become very sticky but this is how it’s meant to be, don’t add any extra flour. If the dough sticks to the surface, scrape it up using a dough scraper if you have one. It’s pretty handy! Don’t worry about the dough sticking to your hands, just work the butter in. When the butter is fully incorporated, place the dough into a container, cover with cling film, and then place this into the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will
firm up the butter and make the dough easier to work with. Next, add the rest of the butter, repeating what you did earlier. NO adding flour! This is very important as the more flour that is added, the smaller the butter to flour ratio becomes, and the final result will be less buttery and brioche-like than desired.
Divide this dough into two portions, with one slightly smaller. Set aside the larger portion, then knead the cocoa powder into the smaller portion, until the colour is well distributed and no longer streaky. This will take a little while but persevere, it’ll happen eventually. I made the cocoa to plain dough ratio a little smaller, as I wanted streaks of cocoa rather than too much. Once all the butter is incorporated with no visible lumps, put the dough back into its container and cover with cling film. Let rise at room temperature for about 4 hours (this time can vary a lot depending on multiple factors e.g. kitchen temperature and strength of your starter) – the dough should double in size.
Once doubled in size, place the container in the freezer again, until the dough is firmerand non-sticky (about 15-20 minutes). This first prove can also be done overnight in the fridge and you will have risen and workable dough in the morning. This will also help develop the flavour further. Although this does require a little more forward planning as this will mean this bread will take 3 days in total.
So, when risen and easy to work with – working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the white dough into a rough rectangle. Do the same with the cocoa dough. Then, place the cocoa dough on top of the white dough. Cut this dough in half, and then place one half on top of the other. You should now have a layer of white dough, a layer of cocoa, a layer of white and then one layer of cocoa. Roll this dough out into a larger rectangle, then repeat the process of cutting it in half and layering. Repeat this one to two more times. Roll the dough into a rectangle, and then slice this rectangle lengthways into three equal pieces. Shape these pieces into more rounded strands, then braid the
dough. (see pictures below for visual instructions!)
Place this braid on to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Lightly cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 2-4 hours. When risen, brush with beaten egg yolk and bake for about 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 200C. Keep an eye on it as it may need tenting with foil if the crust gets too brown. As this dough has sugar in it,
the crust will brown faster.
Thanks for reading and enjoy! This is a great sharing bread because you can tear off massive chunks of it! I brought it to my sign language certificate ceremony as we were having a ‘cake tapas’. I of course just brought bread instead of cake.. but it went down well in spite of not really meeting the cake requirements! I reckon brioche is basically cake-like because of how indulgent it is anyway. I have some blurry pictures of it here:
(my brioche is on the bottom left, doing a great job pretending to be a cake. Think it did a better job pretending to be a cake than the shop bought cakes masquerading as home made! There is barely any left at this point, success!)