Beautifully golden-brown – the most divine chocolate marble loaf!
A chocolate slab is used in the dough and plaited to create this gorgeous marbled effect – even I’m surprised by how neat this turned out!
This bread was made using the tangzhong method, which creates wonderfully soft bread. It involves cooking a paste using flour and water, before adding it to the main dough – a simple addition that makes such a difference to the texture of the bread, and helps it to stay soft for a few days. It has been my go-to method for making soft bread for a few years now. Give it a go and let me know how it goes 🙂
Chocolate Swirl Bread (makes 2 small loaves)
Recipe adapted from Christine’s Recipes
Main dough ingredients:
- 25g bread flour
- 125ml water
- 350g bread flour
- 6g instant dry yeast
- 60g sugar
- 4g salt
- 24g milk powder
- 150g milk
- 30g unsalted butter
Chocolate dough ingredients:
- 50g plain chocolate
- 20g margarine/ butter
- 20g bread flour
- 10g cocoa powder
- 5g corn flour
- 60g milk
- 30g sugar
- 1 egg white
Main dough – Method
- To make the tangzhong, whisk 25g bread flour and 125ml water together in a small saucepan over a low-medium heat. The mixture will thicken quickly and when lines appear in the mixture, remove from the heat.
- Add tangzhong and all ingredients except the liquid and butter in a bowl, gradually add 1/2 of the water and knead well (gradually add milk if required). Add 30g butter and knead until the window pane stage is reached (simple guide here).
- Spray water on doughs and place in separate containers. Cover and let it proof for 60 mins.
- Punch down the doughs, roll into respective balls, cover and let it rest for 10 mins.
Chocolate dough – Method
- Melt the chocolate and margarine via double boiler method, and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, and cornflour. Then add in milk and sugar. Mix well and then add the melted chocolate, margarine mixture. Lastly add in egg white. Whisk till all well combine.
- Cook the mixture on a low heat and whisk constantly. The chocolate filling is ready once the mixture turns thick (obvious lines appear on the mixture surface as you stir).
- Transfer the chocolate dough onto clingfilm. Cover and leave aside to cool (about 3-5minutes).
- Separate into 2 portions and roll each out to about 18cm x 12cm. Wrap and keep in the fridge to set.
- Roll out one of the main doughs into a rectangle shape 20x15cm. Place one chocolate dough on top of the white dough. Roll out to 30x20cm.
- Cut into 2 equal portions. Place one piece on top of the other. Roll out the dough to 30x20cm, repeat another two times.
- Cut it into three strips and plait them together. Place the dough into a greased tin. Spray water and cover.
- Repeat with the other main dough and chocolate dough.
- Let it proof for 40-60 mins or until doubled in height.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 30-35 mins.
- Remove from the tin and let it cool on a wire rack for 2 hrs before cutting.
Cheese on toast anyone? Why not combine all the ingredients and make a sophisticated rosemary and brie soda bread instead? This actually looks a lot more sophisticated than it is to make. Soda bread is the easiest and quickest bread – it doesn’t even require kneading! This is a basic that is good to have under your belt and whip out when required!
The texture is dense in a satisfying way, and is delicious toasted the next day with some chutney. The cheese and herb combination is always wonderful – brie and rosemary in particular. I love a good, strong cheese, so I would try something sharper next time around.
I love the surprise chunks of cheese. Look at that ooze! Paired with the earthy flavours from the wholemeal flour, this tastes divine!
- 250g plain white flour
- 250g plain wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2tbsp of dried rosemary, chopped
- 400ml buttermilk
- 100g brie, chopped into pieces
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Mix the dry ingredients.
- Slowly add the the buttermilk, and work quickly as the bicarbonate of soda reacts immediately with the liquid.
- Add the cheese and mix until just combined.
- Shape roughly into a ball and place on floured baking tray. Cut deeply into quarters, but not all the way through. This helps the bread to cook faster.
- Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Enjoy!
Since going to New York and starting my new job, I have had NO time to be creative in the kitchen and write about it. But I miss it! And now that I’m getting back into my bread making, I feel like I need to document my trial and errors.
Firstly, saffron buns. I had never known what saffron smelt or tasted like before this as I’d only (supposedly) had it in paella in a restaurant, so it wasn’t distinguishable. As the most expensive commodity by weight, I was curious to experiment with it. It’s difficult to describe saffron – it is very fragrant (almost like a musky perfume), with a slight floral, honey scent and flavour. It tastes bitter when too much is used, which is probably why I did not enjoy my first experience in these buns! I got a little too excited as I wanted to be able to taste the saffron…boy, did I taste it! It wasn’t inedible, but the fragrance overpowers in the mouth!
I used my sourdough, which I refreshed twice the day before, just to ensure that it was active. Even though it takes patience to work with sourdough, I love the naturalness of it – it’s just flour and water…and it’s alive!
Look at that shreddable softness! ^ Sourdough can be soft too!
Saffron buns (adapted from txfarmer’s recipe)
- starter, 15g
- milk, 25g
- bread flour, 41g
- Mix and let fermentation at room temp (22c) for 12 hours.
- bread flour, 203g
- honey, 55g
- butter, 25g, softened
- egg whites, 60g
- salt, 3g
- milk, 102g
- saffron, half a teaspoon crushed (I used about a teaspoon which was too much!)
- raisins, 60g
- Heat the milk and add the saffron, let it sit for 10 minutes. Mix all ingredients until the windowpane stage.
- Bulk rise at room temp (22c) for 3 hours, the dough would have expanded noticeably, but not too much. Txfarmer’s recipe states to bulk rise in the fridge overnight, but I was too impatient.
- Punch out the dough, add raisins and shape into “S” shaped buns.
- Let them rise at about 7-10c overnight (some people say to leave bread in the fridge to rise, but mine never does – I find that 4c and below is too cold for any yeast to be active!). The buns did not rise much.
- Spray buns with water, and bake in preheated oven at 220c for 18min. Spray the oven with water every minute for the first 4 minutes to create steam for ovenspring!
The buns rose very well in the oven (doubled in size!), but my oven is a fan oven so I had to cover them with foil to prevent the tops from browning after the first 8 minutes. The bottoms of the buns were a little burnt, and I still haven’t figured out why…is it the pan, the non-stick paper? Does anyone have a clue? As mentioned before, I used too much saffron, but when reduced, it pairs nicely with the sweet raisins. These buns are not sweet, so if you want sweet buns, double the amount of honey or use sugar.
I have a go-to base recipe for a sourdough loaf inspired by The Wild Yeast, which is so reliable and has great flavour. I tweak the recipe by adding ingredients to create different flavour combinations. Sourdoughs require a lot of time and patience but the end result is always so rewarding. To ensure a good texture (soft, well-cooked interior, and a crunchy crust), technique is so important. The Wild Yeast has great instructions, and I would emphasise the most important points as being the presence of steam in the oven for a good rise, checking the internal temperature with a thermometer at the end of the bake (you don’t want all that effort to result in an undercooked loaf!), and don’t cut the loaf until it is fully cool.
Obviously, the flavour of your sourdough will depend on your starter and that is not always consistent, and this unpredictability is what I love about sourdough. Recently, in the warmer London weather, I’ve found that my sourdoughs have been tangier, which I will miss now that the weather is turning cooler.
I love experimenting with flavour, so when I read about the combination of apricot and sage, I was fascinated. The floral notes from the sage pair very well with the sweet dried apricots. However, even though I used approximately 2 tsp of chopped dried sage (from my herb garden!), the sage flavour was not evident enough for me. Next time, I might double the amount of sage. I love nuts and seeds in my sourdoughs, which provide texture and earthiness to the bread, so I added pecans. My parents (who are my current food critics) loved this flavour combination, and if they’re happy, I’m happy. I’m always on the lookout for new flavour combinations so if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to let me know!
This recipe makes 2 large 1kg loaves – each loaf perfect for a family of 4. I usually freeze the other loaf.
- 900 g white flour
- 120 g whole rye flour
- 600 g water, 23C
- 360 g mature 100% hydration sourdough starter
- 22 g salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
- 2 tsp chopped dried sage
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours, water, and starter on low speed until just combined, about one minute.
Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
- Add the salt, sugar, apricot, sage, pecans and continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This took 6 minutes in my bread machine.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled container.
- Ferment at room temperature (~22C) for 2.5 hours, with folds at 50 and 100 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into 2 pieces. I usually make two 1kg loaves, and freeze one loaf after baking.
- Shape into batards and place seam-side-up in a floured banneton or an oiled container.
- Cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 2.5-3 hours. Alternatively, the loaves can be proofed for about 2 hours at room temperature, then refrigerated for 2 – 16 hours and baked directly out of the refrigerator; this will yield a tangier bread with a lovely, blistered crust.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 240C. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
- Turn the proofed loaves onto parchment. Slash each one with two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the batard.
- Once the loaves are in the oven, spray the sides of the oven with water and turn the heat down to 230C. For 1kg loaves, bake for 15 minutes with steam, and another 35 minutes without steam. I cover the bread with foil after 25 minutes to prevent the crust browning too much. Nearer the end of bake, you can take the foil off if the crust is not dark enough. The crust should be a deep brown and the internal temperature should read 96c.
- Turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry.
- Cool on a wire rack. Don’t cut until the loaves are completely cool, otherwise it will be sticky! This takes about 2 hours.