I woke up this morning and decided that I have to bake this bread. It's been on my mind for a few days and I have been procrastinating but today is the day. My first few attempts at making bread have always been huge fails (e.g. hot cross buns or wholewheat baguettes) and upon discovering the battery for my digital scale was dead, I was so ready for this all to go disastrously. So when it wasn't an epic fail, I was SHOCKED. What came out of the oven was a perky, tearable, shareable and cute looking bread which delivered on flavour and texture.
Obviously I love to share so here is the recipe for you guys to give it a go at home. I'm already thinking of other fillings I can add next time 🥰I used whole-wheat flour to make it a tiny bit extra healthier so I don't feel as guilty when I am having this for breakfast but feel free to use whatever bread flour you have at home. Hope you enjoy this one! #SezPKuarantine
Serves: 2 big, delicious, chocolate wreaths
Difficulty: Level 3
Wow factor: ⭐⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ingredients (in cups and grams just in case you don't have a digital scale right now)
500gr / 3.9 cups (4 cups = 512gr) of strong wholemeal bread flour
50gr / 10tsp of caster sugar
(optional for chocolatey infused bread) 25gr / 5tsp cocoa powder, sifted
7gr / 1 sachet instant dry yeast
60gr butter, cubed (literally just used the measurement on the butter wrapping paper and estimated the amount I would need)
300ml warm water
Splash of whole milk (literally only added this when the dough looked a bit dry)
Zest of one large orange
(optional) 1 or 2tsp orange extract for a strong orange flavour
200gr / almost 1 cup of dark chocolate chips
(optional) handful of flaked almonds
Plain flour for dusting
In a large mixing bowl, add your flour, sugar and cocoa powder. Mix well with a butter knife.
Add the yeast, and mix again.
Now you can add the salt and mix again. You don't want to add the salt and the yeast together as apparently if they come in contact in the early stages, the salt can kill the yeast and make your bread dough flat. #drama
Add cubed butter in the mix and use your hands to incorporate the dry ingredients with the butter. Keep going until it looks like fine crumbs.
Add your warm water slowly, and mix using your butter knife. If the mix is still too tough to handle, add the splash of milk. Make sure your hands are clean and incorporate everything into one big dough.
On a lightly floured (plain flour) surface, turn out the dough and start kneading! If you have a fancy standmixer with a dough hook, turn this on medium speed and let it process for 4-5 minutes. If like me, you don't have that kind of money, start kneading. You will need to knead for 10 minutes, make sure you don't cheat. What you want to do when you knead is to flip it around, punch the air out, pull one side from the other, and pushing it down using your palms. You are working the gluten here and the more you pull the dough apart, the fluffier your bread will be. Great workout too! It will start off sticky but do not be tempted to add more flour. If you keep working it, by minute 4 or 5, it will become easier to handle. Keep kneading until it is smooth and silky.
Your large mixing bowl should be clean from any of the flour mixture before so if it is not, give it a good wipe before lightly oiling it. I used vegetable oil as it is flavourless. You can also use other flavourless oil such as sunflower or rapeseed oil. Olive oil will give it a nutty, focaccia vibe so you don't want that. If you've never oiled a bowl in your life, all you need to do is pour a tiny bit of oil and ensuring that the whole bowl is covered in oil.
Now that your big bowl is oiled, drop your silky smooth dough in it and cover with cling film or a damp tea towel. Let it rise somewhere warm (like the inside of an oven, turned off of course) for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. The longer you let it rise, the better tbh.
While that is rising, take a small bowl and mix your chocolate chunks, orange zest, flaked almonds and orange extract (if using) using a spoon. Leave this until your dough is ready.
When your dough is ready, go back to your surface, making sure that you have lightly floured it again, and tip it out.
Using a dough cutter, divide it in 2. Put the other one back in the big bowl whilst you are tending to baby #1.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle using a rolling pin. Using a ruler, make sure it is roughly 35cm x 25cm. The length side should be facing you. I.e. ensure that the longer bit is what is facing you and the short bit should be facing your walls (if you are in a room with walls), not your face.
Take your chocolate chunk and orange bits, and distribute half all over the rectangle. Press down slightly with your hands to ensure they stick.
Roll up the dough from the long, length side into a tight cylinder. Ensure the edges are sealed too by pushing it in.
Using a sharp long knife, or a dough cutter, cut it almost in half, lengthways, leaving one end still joined up so it resembles a pair of legs or jeans. What you want to end up with is 2 strands you can play with, and 1 joined up edge.
Twist the 2 strands together and join the ends to the main bit you did not cut. This should resemble a wreath. See pictures below.
Take a baking tray and line it with baking paper. Place your lovely knotty dough here and cover with a damp tea towel for an hour or at least until it has doubled in size. Good things take time and commitment.
Repeat steps 12 to 17 for baby #2 which has been waiting for you in the mixing bowl.
When both babies have rested and have doubled in size, turn on your oven to 180 degrees.
When the oven is ready, take off the damp tea towel and pop one baby at a time in the middle of the oven. Bake for 20-23 minutes. As this is a dark dough, ensure that you check on it after 15 minutes have passed. You want to ensure you don't burn this. Bake until risen and crispy at the top.
Serve warm at tea time, snack time, breakfast, or even as a midnight snack!
See pictures below for some visual aid.
This picture on the left shows you what it should look like after you have twisted the 2 strands and created the chocolate wreath.
Hopefully this all makes sense! I know that it seems like there are so many steps but I am sure you have the time and patience right now. It is also super worth it so I really do hope you try it out one of these days. Let us know as well if you try out any combinations! I can imagine this could be a salty tear and share with bacon and cheese cubes so might try that one day.