When a new year starts, sometimes you need to take a moment to pause. To sit and reflect on what you want to accomplish, where your heart is, and what matters most to you. A couple weeks ago I had a sit with a hot cup of tea in my hands and my squirmy little chihuahua on my lap, and I thought hard. And after wringing out my innermost thoughts like a wet sponge, I realized that I want to focus more on the root of cooking. I want to go back to what makes food really, really, good, and I want to teach that to other people and share that knowledge, passion, and self-sufficiency. So, I’m starting a series of cooking and homesteading workshops here in my Portland home called Scratch Sessions, where I’ll be teaching a wide array of cooking, preserving, and gardening methods.
In February’s session we’ll dive into the science and techniques behind making the perfect stocks, soups, and farm-fresh bone broths. There will be a hands-on taste testing session that compares cooking time, roasted vs non-roasted bones and vegetables in stock, when to add herbs, and different takes on the classic chicken stock. All six burners on my gas range will be bubbling with an array of aromatic pots as we create our own savory stock to take home.
Every course includes a sit-down long table lunch where we’ll enjoy foods corresponding to those we’re examining in the session. I’d love to share some of this knowledge and passion for food with you, and hope to see you curious and mindful folks there.
First, make the pre-ferment. Mix together 1/2 cup flour with the yeast and warm milk until just combined. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 30 to 45 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the pre-ferment, eggs satsuma juice, and buddhas hand zest at medium low speed until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, allowing the flour to become absorbed after each addition. Turn the mixer off, cover the bowl, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Switch out the paddle attachment for a dough hook and turn the mixer on to medium low speed. Add the butter, 1/4 cup at a time, allowing the butter to become absorbed into the dough before each following addition.
Once combined, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, knead in a bit more flour. Once the dough is smooth and supple, pat it out into a rough fat rectangle shape and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight.
For the filling, heat the chocolate, milk, and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water placed over low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture is smooth. Remove the top pot of the double boiler from heat. Whisk in the egg whites and sugar until smooth. Add the flour and cocoa powder and stir until smooth and combined.
Line a rectangle baking dish roughly 9 by 6-inches with plastic wrap, and empty the chocolate mixture into the pan, spreading it out with a spatula to smooth it. Place another sheet of plastic wrap over the top, and place the pan in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Thoroughly grease two muffin pans and set aside.
When the dough has thoroughly chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into large rectangle about 20 by 10-inches. Remove the top sheet of plastic wrap from the chocolate slab and flip the chocolate over onto the center of the dough rectangle, so that there’s about 2 inches of dough on either side width-wise and 5 and 1/2- inches of dough on either side lengthwise. Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the chocolate slab so that it is completely exposed. Fold the two longer dough ends over the chocolate until they overlap about 1 inch. Press down firmly along the edges of the dough around the chocolate slab to seal it in.
Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 20″ long and 14″ wide, then fold the two ends so that they meet in the middle. Press down firmly to seal, and then roll the dough out again to another rectangle about 20″ long and 14″ wide. Fold the two ends so that they meet in the middle. Press down firmly to seal, and this time roll the dough out to a very long and skinny rectangle that is about 26″ long and 12″ wide. (The chocolate should start to show through parts of the dough since the brioche layers have become so thin, and that’s totally normal).
Roll the dough width-wise into a cylinder, so the cylinder should be about 26″ long after it is rolled. Using a very sharp knife, cut the dough into roughy 2-inch thick slices and place each slice spiral side up in a well-greased muffin tin. If you find that the dough is getting soft and the chocolate is starting to smear, cover the entire cylinder in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Once all of the dough has been sliced and placed in muffin pans, cover the pans with plastic wrap and allow to proof out of direct sunlight for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how warm it is.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once risen, remove the plastic wrap from the pans and place in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden on top.