Makes 2 loaves.
You will need:
1 tbs active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs salt
6 1/2 to 7 cups unbleached all purpose flour or bread flour (as needed)
1 3/4 cups hot water
4 large eggs, at room temp, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tbs vanilla extract
1 tbs dutch processed cocoa
4 oz best bittersweet chocolate
1 package dried apricots, chopped
All ingredients should be at room temperature. Anything that is cold will retard the growth of the yeast, and since most of the flavor comes from the fats being added, that is not desirable with this loaf.
Melt the 4 oz of chocolate and let them cool. You do not want this hot when you add it, as that may react badly with the eggs and such.
Chop up the apricots and soak them in boiling water to restore moisture. You can use this boiling water as your hot water in the bread, to add flavor.
Using either a bowl and wooden spoon, or a stand mixer (my personal preference), put in the yeast, salt, sugar, and 2 cups of flour in the bowl and mix together well. Add hot water, eggs, oil, and vanilla, and beat together into a smooth batter. Add the cooled chocolate and the cocoa powder and mix well. Also add the apricots, cooled, at this point.
Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away form the side of the bowl. It may be a bit moist.
At this point, either continue kneading it in your stand mixer, or (more fun) knead it by hand. You want a firm dough, slightly tacky to the touch, which may take 4 to 6 minutes, or more, depending on your personal style of kneading. Be careful not to add too much flour, just enough to keep it from sticking to your kneading surface or your hands.
Oil a deep bowl and put the dough in, rolling it to slick it completely, and cover it, letting it rise to twice it's size.
Once it's doubled, punch it down and split it into two helpings. Split each of these portions into 3 more equal portions, and roll them out into dough snakes. Twin them together into 3 part braids, and then let them rise until doubled in bulk.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make a vanilla egg glaze out of 1 large egg yolk, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp sugar, and brush it over the loaves, and once more before they go into the oven.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until you can tap on them and they echo back a hollowish sound.
Allow to cool, then devour.