Bread week was always going to be a challenge for me as I’m most definitely a beginner when it comes to all things bread! But, in true Bake Off style, I decided to have a crack at it and see what I could produce. I was given a Bake Off Cookbook for my birthday and thought there would be something suitable in there that Paul Hollywood would approve of.
I found a recipe by the main man himself, for a Chocolate Babka. Although in hindsight, I wish I had given the recipe a thorough read before attempting it. Including proving time, the bread took around 6 hours to make and cook, so a little time consuming! I wouldn’t advise starting it late in the afternoon like I did. But never the less, it was a brilliant challenge and I’ve definitely learnt a lot about the art of bread making. Did I mention it’s also very tasty?! I’d describe it as tasting a bit like a pain au chocolat. So a light, sweet dough with a delicious chocolaty filling. Perfect for breakfast!
So what issues did I encounter? Like I said, this is an original Paul Hollywood recipe. However, I found the way the recipe was written quite technical and a little confusing. I’ve simplified it and re-written it here on my blog, so hopefully it makes sense! There are also some strange bits in the recipe, such as proving the loaf in the fridge which I’ve never heard of before. I always thought yeast needed warmth to active. But apparently the chilling is to cool the large amount of butter in the dough and to prevent it from oozing out of the soft dough. One final concern came when I twisted the dough as the mixture seemed to just fall out but… this really didn’t matter as it all merges together in the end. Don’t worry if your uncooked loaf looks messy as it actually looks quite cool when it’s finished and adds to the chocolate swirl.
For the dough
400g strong white bread flour
70g caster sugar
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
4 medium eggs, chilled
5 tbsp milk
150g unsalted butter, diced
For the filling
150g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70% cocoa), broken in to pieces
50g light brown muscovado sugar
75g chopped pecans
90g unsalted butter, melted
1 medium egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
Grease and line a loaf tin (I used one that was roughly 26 x 12.5 x 7.5cm). You will definitely want it lined with greaseproof paper as it will make it a lot easier when you take the loaf out.
Mix together your dry ingredients (flour, caster sugar, salt and yeast). Then make a well in the centre.
Gently beat your 4 eggs together in a measuring jug, then add enough milk to round the liquid up to 265ml (this should be about 5tbsp). Now pour into the well.
Gradually mix together until it forms a very soft, sticky dough.
Turn the dough out on to a well floured surface and knead thoroughly for 10 minutes until the dough feels firmer and more elastic.
Gradually work in the butter. This is easiest done by hand and if you sort of spread the butter in to the dough. Work it in until there are no buttery streaks. The dough should look silky smooth now.
Put the dough back in a bowl, cover tightly with cling film and put in the fridge to rise for 2 hours until doubled in size.
Take your dough out of the fridge, and with floured knuckles, beat the dough down to deflate it. Re-cover with cling film and put back in the fridge for another hour.
Place your dough on a floured surface and knead for a minute to make a neat ball. Cover with your ball and you’re ready to move on to the filling.
Put your chocolate and brown sugar in to a food processor and pulse until chopped in to small pieces. Add the pecans and pulse several times until the mix is all in small pieces.
Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out your dough to roughly a 30 x 40cm rectangle. Brush with two-thirds of the melted butter.
Spread the chocolate mixture over the top and gently press down. Sprinkle the left over butter on top. Now lightly score a line across the middle of the dough.
Roll the dough from each side do that the two ends meet in the middle.
Cut along the scored line and pinch the cut edge of each roll shut. Then pinch the two rolls together at one end.
Now twist the two rolls together and pinch together at the other end. Lift in to your prepared tin. Don’t worry if any of the filling spills out, just sprinkle it on top.
Put the tin in to an inflated plastic bag and secure shut. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1.5 hours until almost doubled in size.
Heat your oven to 190°C. Uncover the loaf and brush with beaten egg to glaze.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave the tin to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then turn the loaf out of the tin and leave to cool completely.
When it’s cooled, you can slice and devour!
Leave in a sealed container and use within 4 days.
I’ll be back for batter week, but until then, enjoy! X