sweet · sweet bread

Everything in Chocolate

The second part of the St Petersburg post will have to wait – it’s Easter time here and there are some recipes which go well with this season. I’ve crossed today crowds of people filing in and out of the local churches to consecrate their traditional leavened Easter cakes, called kulich, and coloured eggs. Most of the baked things are bought in stores nowadays, with colourful sprinkles and sugary toppings. Maybe that’s why you’d better consecrate them? Kidding. It’s just that I prefer to avoid crowds. What I wanted to make was something similar to what my Mom used to bake each Easter – poppy seed rolls (she actually made poppy seed PIGS, such was the size of her rolls! something like this Dan Leppard’s Poppy-seed Walnut Strudel I made last year) – with a filling made from poppy seeds, walnuts and sugar mixture processed in a meat mincing machine 😉 I haven’t ventured to make them yet – although bought some fresh yeast just in case. Instead, I will share with you two leavened sweet treats with chocolate.

melted chocolate

Warning: If you decide to make a photo session with chocolate – be prepared to have EVERYTHING in chocolate, including the camera, yourself and even the rest of the chocolate!

I have spoken little about chocolate in my blog although I love it dearly, you know, that bitter kind, not the milky or even white one. My favourite chocolate bars are of course from the famous St Petersburg chocolate factory (named after Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife) – the bars are called Osoby (Special) and contain no less than 53% cocoa. This St Petersburg delight has found its admirers (addicts?) from as far in the world as Puerto Rico 😉 (Melinaki, I wish I could send it to you but in light of all that happens to our worse than snail-mail Russian post, I would rather not!)

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

{you can spot the chocolate bar in question underneath the rack}

Let’s start with something more or less Easter like – these are Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls adapted from www.mydiversekitchen.com  (originally from thefreshloaf) – the recipe yields two dozen pretty buns with lightly sweet dough and the glaze which makes up for it completely!

As usual, I refer you to the original recipe – here I give only the changes I’ve made (that might give you some idea on how to twist the recipe your own way!).

For the dough part I added just a tiny bit of wholewheat flour to the all-purpose and less salt (which was a good idea).

For the filling I used less melted butter, less brown sugar (I KNEW there will be a rich glaze!), I opted for cashew nuts and instead of raisins I scalded some poppy seeds (to soften them) and used them as part of the filling.

And as for the glaze… How could one agree to really leave it out? =) I used a whole bar of chocolate (the cheaper one I use for baking).

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

I had to leave the dough in the fridge for several hours for its first rise and also left the poppy seeds (scalded) in some water to soften them and when I came back… the seeds sprouted! well, they grew some white ‘legs’ =) Haha, SPRING time!

I baked my buns for less than 20 minutes.

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

Result: The dough part is not sweet but the abundant chocolate topping adds just enough sugar. Poppy seeds and nuts are a crunchy addition to these buns. Best eaten on the day of baking as they get harder the next day. The cardamom was not that distinct in these buns, I should say.

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

{unglazed – and everything was so clean too… Before THIS happened:}

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

I wouldn’t go into much detail about getting all in chocolate. In Russia there’s a saying that when your life is great and you’re particularly lucky, then you have everything in chocolate 😉

Cardamom Flavoured Cinnamon Rolls

{rows of rolls}

***

And now let’s look at the second chocolate feast / festive treat: a loaf this time, just like black/ brown bread from the outside but definitely not at all that from the inside! Its name even refers to the Black Forest desserts which most of the time means there’s chocolate and cherries – but surely this treat has nothing to do with the famous all cream all chocolate torte.

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread adapted from lisamichele.wordpress.com – will make a soft, truly chocolate bread, not oversweet. I do not give a precise link here as I failed to find a working one myself… I guess that the website is inactive. I’m giving you the recipe which I copied some, I suppose, years ago instead – to keep the recipe going on the Internet.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dried cherries – mine were really sweet
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs rum (optional, you can soak the cherries in any fruity liquid you prefer) – I opted for the kumquat liqueur
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast – which I activated first in the warm cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt – I used less + added some cinnamon for flavour
  • 3 Tbs softened butter
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup good quality chocolate chunks or disks – I chopped up a whole bar of Osoby chocolate

Method:

1. Place dried cherries in a medium bowl with half the rum, or whatever soaking liquid you choose. Set aside until needed. They will plump and soften slightly. – I used up all the amount of liqueur here.

2. Boil water and stir in cocoa until uniform. Let cool until tepid. I used the same ‘drink’ to activate the yeast.

2. In a bowl combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt, then slowly pour in tepid cocoa/water mixture.  Add softened butter and mix until it’s blended in. Add the egg and keep mixing until uniform and brownie batter like.

3. Slowly add in the remaining flour (more or less depending on weather) until you have a slightly stiff dough that’s easy to work with. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and silky – slapping against the sides of the bowl cleanly, about 10 minutes, or dump it on a floured pastry board and knead by hand.

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread

4. Form the kneaded dough into a smooth ball. Lightly grease a large bowl, and place the dough in it turning to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or so, until doubled in size.

5. When doubled in size, fold dough over itself to deflate it, then place back on a clean floured pastry board, flattening it. Add the cherries with the soaking liquid and the chocolate chunks, then fold the dough over itself several times to start incorporating them. The cherries and chocolate will keep popping out of the dough with some falling out. It’s OK, just keep pushing them back in and kneading. Let rise in the greased bowl, covered, for another hour.

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread

6. Form the dough into a loaf shape, and place in a greased and lightly floured loaf pan. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until more than doubled, rising above the top of the pan – about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Could be less depending on how warm the area you keep it in is.

7. When the dough looks about ready, preheat the oven to 180 ‘C for 15 minutes. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. This is a very dark chocolate bread, so you can’t tell by color. I usually check it with a toothpick. I had to cover the loaf with foil at the end of baking, it was getting far too black. And I baked it for about 60 minutes!

8. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and place on wire rack to cool fully. Brush with remaining kirsch or whatever liquid you used if flavored over top of loaf. I didn’t brush anything over it.

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread

{cherries create a chewy side to the bread}

The result: this sweet bread is really soft and its sweetness is… occasional, because you never know when the sweet cherries or the chocolate chunks will burst in your mouth.) Add more sugar if you want it sweet or if you use sour cherries and biter chocolate, for example. I think it also lacks some distinct flavour – mine had some from the kumquat liqueur, for sure (and none from the cinnamon I fear), but it would have gained from something special.

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread

With all the May holidays here (1st May + the Victory day) there’s a very little one can do to search for a job. So… Where’s my halara mode button? Happy holidays – and a happy new warm season!

G.

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4 thoughts on “Everything in Chocolate

  1. Mmm, yum! Those cinnamon rolls look delicious! I like things are just enough sweet and not drowning in sugar. And that loaf looks gorgeous too! I have yet to experiment with chocolate in bread, but you’ve definitely inspired me 🙂

    1. I’m glad you liked them! Yes, they were just as I like the sweet things – with a balanced sweetness. Chocolate in bread is tricky – I guess if it’s added in chunks, it really should be high quality – I had some loaves that were spotted with chocolate but these very parts just tasted of nothing… Good luck, hope to see your new creations!

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