Spiced Chocolate Swirled Bread

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The moody fog and rains of autumn have arrived. The rich colors of the leaves are dulled by the cloudy skies, producing an nontraditional landscape of beauty. I've been nestled indoors, sitting near the fireplace and curling up in knitted blankets. It's been a quiet autumn so far, with weekends and evenings spent close to home. When the sun appears, I'll head back outdoors, but for now I feel content with a book in hand and a mug of warm cider nearby. 

To bring this cozy feeling into the kitchen, I wanted to create a bread that would incorporate these comforts of the season. I kneaded together a rich dough, made with butter, milk, and egg . After rising, the dough is spread and swirled with warm spices and melted chocolate. The dough is cut, twisted, and sprinkled with raw sugar for sweetness and texture. The bread can be served for breakfast or dessert, but either time of day it is enjoyed, it will carry the warmth of the season through.

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Spiced Chocolate Swirled Bread is a sweet breakfast bread. A rich dough is rolled out and spread with brown sugar mixed with ground cinnamon and cardamom. Finely chopped chocolate is sprinkled evenly on top before the bread is rolled, cut in half, and twisted. After baking, the top of the bread is golden brown, with raw sugar to provide a crunchy texture. The bread is best served warm, either plain or with a scoop of ice cream.

One Year Ago: Roasted Fig & Almond Cake & Apple Cinnamon Muffins
Two Years Ago: Carrot Almond Muffins & Pear Almond Tart
Three Years Ago: Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake, & Boiled Cider
Four Years Ago:  Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies, Vanilla Malt Cake, Cinnamon Raisin Bread, & Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
Five Years Ago: Brown Butter Pear Muffins, Pumpkin Espresso Bread, Coconut Cookies, & Pumpkin Waffles
Six Years Ago: Chocolate Beet Cake, Zucchini Cake, Lemon Blueberry Scones, 3 Milk Coconut Cake, & Pumpkin Spice Latte
Seven Years Ago: Coconut Boba Tea, Cinnamon Chocolate Banana Bread, Maple Roasted Bananas, & Mixed Berry Crumble

Spiced Chocolate Swirled Bread

Yields 1 loaf

Dough
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
3 tablespoons (43 grams) butter, melted
2 to 2 1/4 cups (250-280 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt

Warm milk and butter until about 100 degrees F (38 degrees C), or until slightly warm to the touch. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add 2 cups flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Fold together until the batter forms a dough. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour by the tablespoonful until it begins to form a ball. On a lightly floured surface, place the dough and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. Form into a ball.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm environment until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Filling
1/2 cup (66 grams) brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 tablespoons (57 grams) butter, room temperature
3 ounces (85 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon raw or demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and butter until it forms a uniform spread. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to approximately an 11 x 15-inch rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread the brown sugar mixture uniformly on the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle the finely chopped chocolate evenly over the mixture. Starting lengthwise, roll the dough until coiled. 

Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the coil in half lengthwise and face the inside upwards. Pinch together one end of the dough and twist the two long strands, facing the cut side upwards at all times. Pinch together the remaining end. Form the dough into a circular shape. Transfer the circle to a lightly greased cast-iron pan or 9-inch round cake pan. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle the raw sugar evenly over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until dark brown and fragrant.

Run a knife around the outside of the pan and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Plum Almond Tart

In the midst of the chaos that accompanies the beginning of the school year, my mind has been absent from the kitchen, fixating on my new students and lesson plans instead. These early school days can be long and exhausting, as we all look for a new footing and gradually settle into a routine, developing the new rhythm of another year.

Knowing of the movement on the horizon, on the final day of summer vacation I made it a point to spend a slow afternoon in my favorite locationβ€”the kitchen. Since plums have been especially sweet this year, I wanted to make the fruit the feature of my next pastry. With this tart, I consider the goal accomplished. The bright flavor of the plums stand out, complemented by a buttery crust and a sweet, rich almond filling. It was difficult to keep my fork away for longer than a few hours, as I pilfered bites between meals.

While eating another rushed meal from a box for dinner this evening, my mind drifted back to the lethargic days of summer. The setting of the sun feels too early recently, the dark evenings making the summer months seem more than a couple weeks away. I sliced a plum for dessert, eating it while watching the sky turn orange. While I am excited for the weeks ahead, it is nice to take a moment and bring back the flavors of a simpler moment in time.

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This Plum Almond Tart allows the sweet summer fruit to shine. It begins with a buttery tart crust filled with a rich almond filling. Then, sliced ripe plums are pressed into the top before baking. In the oven, the fruit roasts and the filling toasts. The tart can be served warm or chilled, depending on personal preference. I prefer the first slice warm from the oven and the second slice chilled as I steal a few bites the next morning for breakfast.

One Year Ago: Blueberry Plum Pie & Fig Oatmeal Bars
Two Years Ago: Olive Oil Pound Cake, Iced Matcha Coconut Latte, & Blueberry Honey Scones
Three Years Ago: Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies & Citrus Zucchini Muffins
Four Years Ago:  Nutella Espresso Rolls, Brownie Cookies, Cookie Dough Cake, & Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars
Five Years Ago: Almond Butter Cupcakes, Berry Pavlova, Mango Striped Popsicles, French Silk Pie, Blackberry Coffee Cake, & Blueberry Cupcakes
Six Years Ago: Cherry Almond Muffins, Plum Clafouti, Banana Cake, S'mores Pie, & Malted Chocolate Cupcakes
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Prune Cake, Wild Blueberry Muffins, Chocolate Pear Cake, & Strawberry Shortcake

Plum Almond Tart

Yields 9-inch tart (8 to 12 servings)

Tart Dough
1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (113 grams) butter, cold
1 large egg, lightly whisked
1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling
3 tablespoons (50 grams) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups (160 grams) almond flour
3/4 pound (340 grams) ripe plums, cored and sliced

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cube the butter and add it to the dry ingredients by rubbing it between your fingers until the dough resembles coarse sand. Add the lightly whisked egg and vanilla extract, folding the mixture until the dough comes together with a uniform appearance.

Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes, or until cold.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a 9-inch tart pan with parchment.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer into the tart pan and trim the edges. To blind bake, line the inside of the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans to help the dough keep its shape while baking (alternatively, you can also poke the bottom of the pan with a fork several dozen times). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove weights and parchment, if necessary. Keep the oven temperature at 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt. Stir in the almond flour until uniform. Spread the filling evenly into the tart shell with an offset spatula.

Place the plum slices upright in the filling and press down gently. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the almond filling is baked through and appears lightly browned. Cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Fresh Herb Bread

I started a small herb garden at the beginning of summer, featuring basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. The plants were arranged behind the sink in my new home, taking in the sunshine from the large windows. Historically, gardening has not been one of my specialties. Plants tend to last no more than a month or two, dying from a combination of under-watering, over-watering, or a simple stroke of bad luck. Even so, I could not seem to let go of the hopes that this will be the year my thumbs turn green.

Unexpectedly, my small herb garden quickly grew beyond its place behind the sink, spilling over the planters and slowly conquering all available counter space. As I carried the herb planters outside to regain my work space, I was certain the credit for the abundant plants was not my own. The large window and the brilliant sunshine deserved all of the praise. Who knew a green thumb and a south facing window were the same thing? Regardless, when herb plants are generous, we all win.

For this recipe, I featured the fresh Italian herbs in a fragrant loaf of bread. The bread is customizable to your tastes; use whichever herb or combination of herbs you prefer. Whether spread thickly with butter, sopping up gravy, or forming the base of a sandwich, the bread has become a staple in my kitchen. It seems as if there will never be enough loaves to keep up with my sun-grown plants. 

For the recipe for the Fresh Herb Bread, head over to Wolf Gourmet's blog, Food Notes.

This post is sponsored through a partnership with Wolf Gourmet. All thoughts and opinions are my own.