Spiced Chocolate Swirled Bread

IMG_0257-2.jpg

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.

IMG_0113-2.jpg
spicedchocolatebread1.jpg
IMG_0230-2.jpg
IMG_0246-2.jpg
IMG_0174-2.jpg

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.

Almond Cardamom Rolls

Almond Cardamom Rolls

Almond Cardamom Croissants

In a hidden gem of a bakery in the vibrant city of Montreal, I sat down to my first almond croissant. The tiny bakery, Kouign-Amann, held only 3 tables, but the atmosphere felt so cozy and inviting it made me feel as if I belonged. The bakery was open to the kitchen where the bakers rolled out beautiful sheets of homemade puff pastry. The pastries were classically French, but the bakery had a vibe that could only come from the soul of Montreal. Despite its small size, I had never encountered a more active bakery in my life (and I doubt I will again) as the door swung open so often I rarely saw it close for more than a moment.

On this particular day, I was lucky enough to find myself a seat at a table. The almond croissant was larger than my two fists put together, standing tall from the flaky layers. Covered with powdered sugar and sliced almonds, I found it a mess to eat as the tender crumbs scattered over the table and onto my lap as the croissant gradually disappeared. Somehow, though, it was perfect.

Perfect for the moment, perfect for the city, perfect for the place I was at in my life.

Almond Cardamom Croissants Almond Cardamom Croissants

My roommate introduced me to the bakery a few days earlier. I had just moved into an apartment a few blocks down and to break up the rush of a trip to buy furniture, she pulled me into the small bakery on our walk to the metro, ordered me a plain croissant, and warned me that it would be the best I would ever eat. She was right.

From then on, I walked past the bakery regularly as I made my way around the city. The bakery, to its credit, kept the ovens on throughout the day so it was possible to get warm pastries any time of day. The temptation to resist, I found, was often too much. Every time I made my way through the bakery door, I fell a little more in love with pastries, more smitten with baking.

Almond Cardamom Croissants

It was a cold fall afternoon when I stepped in the bakery after a rush of holiday shopping. The bakery was humid, as the hot air from the ovens mixed with the frigid air from outdoors. I ordered an almond croissant and managed to snag one of the coveted seats in the busy room, dropping my packages by my feet. French language bounced off the walls as the windows fogged over with steam, condensation running down the panes to reveal the bustling street outside. An old man sat across from me, a newspaper spread across the table, a coffee in hand. The moment itself made me feel so rich, so alive. Emboldened by the atmosphere and a mouthful of croissant, I made up my mind about a decision that had been haunting me for quite some time.

It was the moment I made the decision to pursue pastries.

Almond Cardamom Croissants

Almond Cardamom Rolls are inspired from the pastries I fell in love with in Montreal. The dough is no-knead, which makes it much less work than its traditional counterpart. A touch of sour cream brings a tenderness to the rolls and the addition of cardamom adds the right amount of spice. The rolls are filled with a mixture of almond paste and brown sugar, which is rich and deeply flavorful. A simple vanilla glaze and a sprinkle of sliced almonds finishes off the light rolls. The rolls can also be made the night before and baked the next morning to serve warm for family and friends.

Read More

Vanilla Bean Cardamom Peach Pie

Vanilla Bean Cardamom Peach Pie

Vanilla Cardamom Peach Pie

Long, languid summer afternoons are quickly becoming fond memories as I find myself surrounded by textbooks and a mountain of responsibilities. For many reasons, I wish I could go back to those summer days, despite the heat swells that kept my apartment at a blistering degree. The transition between seasons always feels unexpected to me; no matter how much my brain anticipates its arrival, my body falls into a state of confusion. The hot air from summer days still plagues me as I walk around sweating in a pair of blue jeans and a sweater, questioning why I expected cooler temperatures just because the routines of fall had arrived.

Between the transitions, I get caught between the seasons, wearing skirts in chilled temperatures and turning on the oven when the warmth of summer hasn't gone.

Vanilla Cardamom Peach Pie

Part of me is still drawn to summer, as I buy fresh berries for my breakfast, purposefully overlooking the rising price of the fruit. I bought my last bag of cherries for the season at the market last week, the moment hitting me unusually hard as I realized summer was truly coming to an end.

My sister, on the other hand, has been ready for fall for the last month. Ahead of the game, her new fall wardrobe has already been purchased, hanging in the closet as she anxiously awaits the temperatures to drop. Perhaps most of all, she has been looking forward to the flavors of autumn. Filling my inbox with pumpkin recipes I must make for her, she can't stop talking about eating her weight in pumpkin cheesecake.

In a way, the two of us complement one anotherβ€”as I grasp onto the remains of summer, she is fully embracing the spice of fall. Together we are helping each other through the transition of the seasons.

Vanilla Cardamom Peach Pie

Last weekend, I was trying to find a recipe that reflected this passage of weather and life. The morning was unusually cool and overcast, as I snuggled into the couch with a blanket around my shoulders and warm socks covering my toes. For the first time in months, the temperature had dropped in my apartment and the thought of turning on the oven finally seemed like a perfect idea. After months of looking for no-bake recipes or recipes with limited baking, I missed my oven and the warmth it could bring into bodies and homes.

I turned it on, rolled out pie dough on the counter top, and somewhere along the way this pie took form. The fresh fruit of summer and the spices of fall combine to create a pie for transitions. As if to live up to its purpose, the weather began to clear while the pie cooled on top of the oven. Just as I cut into the first piece, I heard a splash from someone jumping into a nearby pool.

While the weather (or your heart) may be between seasons, this pie will help to bridge the gap, creating a space where you can enjoy a slice of both at precisely the same time.

Vanilla Cardamom Peach Pie

Vanilla Bean Cardamom Peach Pie is bright and fragrant, with a sugar sprinkled crust to hold in the flavor. Fresh, ripe peaches combine with aromatic cardamom and a hint of vanilla, baking in the oven until the fruit softens and bubbles in its own juices. You may choose to use whichever pie crust recipe you prefer (I've provided a link to my favorite below), but as long as it bakes up golden and flaky, you can do no wrong. Whether you are still longing for summer or waiting to embrace the flavors of fall, this pie will be suited just for you.

Read More