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Bittersweet Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls | Relishing It

I’ve been on a reading tear lately, and it’s just what I needed.  Usually it feels like my mind never gets a chance to focus on one thing, or to just contemplate.  I’m constantly jumping from topic to topic, and though technology certainly contributes to this, in the end the responsbility is mine.  So I’ve slowed down a bit and decided to concentrate on a few good books.  It’s the perfect cure for all of the multi-tasking that seems to take up my day. In the past, I’ve often had a hard time jumping into another book right after reaching the end of a good one.  It was like I went through a period of mourning.  I’m done doing that.  I’m diving right back into the next one, and thankfully I’ve been getting some great recommendations with the help of friends.   But, I’d like more!  Please share with me any must-reads.

Bittersweet Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls | Relishing It

Bittersweet Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls | Relishing It

Why am I going off about books right now?  Well actually, because these amazing chocolate cinnamon rolls were the result of one of my last reads.  The book was ‘The Storyteller’ by Jodi Picoult.  It takes place partially in present day and partially during World War II.  It’s a wonderful read.  The recipe is the one the father (a baker) would lovingly make for his daughter.  After reading about the delicious description of the bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon twirled together into a soft roll, I couldn’t get them out of my mind.  Luckily for me, there was a recipe at the end of the book.  So I made them.

Bittersweet Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls | Relishing ItBittersweet Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls | Relishing ItBittersweet Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls | Relishing It

I’m so glad that I did, because my kids absolutely loved them.  And chocolate and bread are a perfect combination.  This has been a family favorite for some time.  These rolls are about to earn the same title.  These are a perfect chocolate cinnamon combination, with neither overpowering the other.  You may be tempted to chop more chocolate, but don’t.  This amount was spot on.  I can already imagine snowy winter weekend mornings with the smell of these bittersweet cinnamon rolls wafting through the air, as I sip my coffee and read another incredible book.  That is until my kids shout “Mommy!”, and need something.  Hope you enjoy the rolls!

Bittersweet Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls | Relishing ItBittersweet Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls | Relishing It

The Recipe: Bittersweet Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 cup warm milk, (I used whole) (110°F)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/2 cup plus a pinch, granulated sugar, divided

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 large egg yolk

2 cups all-purpose flour (9 ounces), plus extra

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter, divided, plus more for pan

1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cinnamon

coarse sugar (such as turbinado or demerara)

powdered sugar to sprinkle

Pour the milk into a small bowl and sprinkle with the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Whisk. Let stand for 5 minutes until foamy.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 egg and 1 egg yolk.  Whisk the egg mixture and the yeast mixture together. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a bowl and wooden spoon), combine the flour and salt. Add the egg mixture and beat on low until most of the flour is incorporated. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low adding 1 tablespoon of butter at a time until 3 tablespoons of the butter are incorporated. You will knead the dough for about 10 minutes.  You may need to stop the machine and remove the dough from around the hook to make sure everything is getting properly incorporated along the way.  The dough will be sticky.

Place the dough in a large buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a dishtowel.  Set in a warm, draft-free place to rise until the dough doubles in size.  About 1 hour. The length of time will depend upon how warm your area is.

Prepare the filling by using a fork to mix the chocolate, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Add the remaining 3 tablespoon of butter and use the fork to combine. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Once the dough has double, roll it out into a 16 x 12 rectangle on a well-floured surface.  Sprinkle filling over the dough and roll into a log.  You may need to trim the jagged end of the log slightly. Cut the log into 9 equal pieces. Place into a 8 x 8 buttered pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again for about 20 minutes.

When the rolls have risen slightly, remove the plastic wrap and mix the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water.  Gently apply the egg wash to the rolls using a pastry brush then sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon or more of coarse sugar.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the tops are a deep golden brown and the center feels set. Cool on a wire rack and serve sprinkled with powdered sugar on top.

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

 

 

 

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Apple Challah via Relishing It

Despite the frigid weather, we survived this week’s arctic blast here in Minnesota.  And while I managed to get out-and-about a couple of times, much of the long weekend was spent tidying up the house and pre-Spring cleaning.  By January our home is so cluttered with Christmas toys, winter gear, and heaping piles of kindergarten projects that it’s almost unbearable.  So we bought more toy shelves (I really need to have a garage sale this Spring), organized the important school work, and re-arranged a few rooms.  And somehow, once everything was in order, it felt like we’d uncovered two new rooms.  Now I can finally think clearly again!

Apples for Apple Challah via Relishing It

Diced apples for Apple Challah via Relishing It

Aside from the re-organization and playing countless games of Munchkin and Memory with the little ones, I also managed to squeeze in a little baking.  It was a nice way to help warm the house when the windchill dropped to -30°F.  This apple challah turned out perfectly.  One of my favorite things to play around with in the kitchen is bread made with yeast.  I’m fascinated by how yeast grows and changes, creating such interesting flavor.  Baking bread takes patience and planning, but not a lot of work.  And the aroma of freshly baked bread, alone, is worth the small effort.

Challah dough stuffed with apples via Relishing It

Challah stuffed with apples via Relishing It

Apple Challah ready to bake via Relishing It

If you have reservations about working with yeast, just relax and start with something simple.  This apple challah is a nice entry point.  You basically shove everything into a pan and bake it up.  But the results are a magical, tender, rustic-looking bread.  This one isn’t overly sweet– it’s amazing flavors come from the apples, honey, and cinnamon.  One of my favorite characteristics of this challah is the nice ‘crunch’ provided by sprinkling turbinado sugar on top.  The crust is best on the day it’s baked, since it tends to soften over time in a sealed container.  Even so, it keeps well for several days, and the inside stays soft and moist.  Enjoy it drizzled with a bit of honey and a nice cup of hot coffee.

Apple Challah via Relishing It

Apple Challah via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Apple Challah

For the Dough:

4 cups (20 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour  (see note)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

6 tablespoons canola oil

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 cup honey

1 package instant yeast  (2 1/4 teaspoons)

1/2 cup luke-warm water (between 100-110°F)

For the Filling:

3 smallish apples, diced into 3/4-inch chunks with the skin on

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the Glaze:

1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Note: The recipe from King Arthur called for 4 cups of flour.  I generally assume that 1 cup of all-purpose flour weighs 5 ounces.  So, I added 20 ounces of flour to this recipe.  King Arthur called for 4 cups of flour, but stated 17 ounces as their weight measurement.  I did feel the dough was a bit stiffer than I was accustomed to working with, but the outcome was absolutely perfect.  It was a soft and tender bread that was sublime.  I think it’s safe to say that anything between 17-20 ounces would work here, though I haven’t tried the 17 ounce version first-hand.  Can you tell that I love my scale? 

In a bowl of a stand mixer (the recipe can also be done by hand, of course), mix the yeast, honey, and water together until it is dissolved.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes, or until it begins to get a bit foamy.

Add the remaining ingredients for the dough to the yeast mixture and slowly mix using the paddle attachment until the dough just comes together.  Remove the paddle attachment and add the dough hook.  Knead the dough for a few minutes until it is soft and smooth.  Place the dough in a slightly oiled large bowl and cover it with a dishtowel or lightly greased plastic wrap.  Allow to rise for about 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Lightly grease a 9 or 10-inch springform pan or a 9-inch cake pan that is at least 2-inches deep.  Mix the apple filling ingredients together in a bowl.

Gently deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface.  Roll the dough out into a 8 x 10-inch rectangle.  Place the apples on the dough in two 10-inch rows near the center of the dough.  Fold each side over the row of apples closest to it.  Pushing down as you go to seal it.  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough down the center, and then across 8 times.  You should end up with 16 pieces of dough.  Hopefully the photographs will help with a visual.  Place the pieces of dough into the prepared pan so they create a single layer.  Tuck any apples that have fallen out into the mixture.

Cover the challah with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap.  Allow to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it’s about 2-inches high.

Preheat the oven to 325°F toward the end of rising time.  Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle heavily with turbinado sugar (or any coarse sugar).  Bake for about 55 minutes, or until the top is a beautiful golden brown.  Some of the higher pieces may get dark brown, and that’s ok.  The dough needs to bake all the way through in the middle, so be patient.  Remove challah from oven and after 5 minutes loosen the edges and transfer it to a rack.  Serve hot or cold, preferably with a drizzle of honey.  Keeps well for days in a covered container.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Thanks so much for stopping by!  xo

Laurie

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Ah yes, lemon season…  It’s that one bright seasonal food that falls just when I need it the most–right in the middle of Winter.  The lemons are sublime right now.  Obviously I love to bake with these beauties.  This tart  and these bars always make me weak in the knees. And this delicious yogurt cake  is one of the best desserts I’ve ever made.  But don’t stop at baking.  Remember to preserve a batch of lemons to use in savory dishes as well.  With lemons around, the dull gray of late February just seems a little less oppresive.

This fantastic pull-apart bread is another mouth-watering way to bring that lemon-y zing into your baking.  And how good is this bread?  It knocked our socks off!  My family was wowed by this one– we inhaled it in one day.  It really is that good.  I mean, it’s so good that you’ll want to invite friends over to share so they can ”ooooo…”  and “ahhh…” at your masterpiece.

Don’t be intimidated by the recipe’s length– it’s not difficult.  The photos here show you how to cut the dough, which seemed to be the most confusing part of the original directions.  Just remember the goal– make a dough, let it rise, roll it into a large rectangle, top with lemon/sugar mixture, cut into 30 small, equal rectangles, stack in a bread pan, let rise, and bake.  That’s it.  The cutting measurements don’t have to be perfect, so slight variations in shape are just fine.  The key is to make sure you bake it long enough.  Otherwise, the center may not be done, which will ruin your bread.  If you make the dough and store it in the refrigerator, you’ll find it really shortens the wait if you plan on making it for breakfast.  Enjoy!

 

The Recipe: Lemon Pull-Apart Bread

(Makes one loaf)

For the Dough:

2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) whole milk

2 ounces (4 tablespoons), unsalted butter

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Lemon Paste Filling:

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

4 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (4 lemons)

2 ounces unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), melted

For the Icing:

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounce) confectioners’ sugar

About 2 tablespoons lemon juice

I recommend  making the dough and refrigerating the night before.  The dough is remarkably easy to handle this way.  To make the dough, mix together 2 cups (9 ounces) flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.  In a small sauce pan, heat the butter and milk until it is entirely melted.  Remove from heat and add the water and vanilla.  Set aside until the temperature drops to  120°F – 130°F.

Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until moistened.  Attach bowl to mixer and using the paddle attachment, begin to add the eggs one at a time while the mixer is on low.  Mix until just incorporated after each egg.  Stop the mixer and add 1/2 cup of the remaining flour, and continue to mix on low until the dough is smooth, 30-45 seconds.  Add 2 more tablespoons of flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

Sprinkle work surface with 1 tablespoon of flour, knead dough by hand for about 1 minute, or until no longer sticky.  1-2 tablespoons of flour can be added, if needed.  Butter a large bowl and place dough in it and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Gently deflate the dough.  At this point, either refrigerate the well-covered dough overnight or proceed onto the next step.

Meanwhile, while dough is rising, make the lemon filling.  In a small bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest.  Using a spoon or your hand, mix together until it forms a sandy mixture.

Center a rack in the center of an oven pre-heated to 350°F.  Butter a 9 x 5 – inch loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter again.  Set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface roll the dough out to a 20 x 12 – inch rectangle.  Use a pastry brush (or smear with your hands) to distribute the melted butter onto the dough.  Sprinkle the lemon/sugar mixture evenly over the melted butter.  Give the mixture a gentle pat so that it sticks well.  Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough crosswise into 5 equal strips (each about 12 x 4 – inches).  Carefully stack all 5 strips of dough.  Again using the pizza cutter, cut the stack into 6 equal sections (each about 4 x 2 -inches).

Carefully place all of the stacks, widthwise, into the prepared bread pan.  Make sure the dough pieces are close/snug with each other.  There will be extra room at the end of the pan and that’s good.  The dough will rise and fill that space in.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30-50 minutes, or a bit longer if the dough was refrigerated.

Bake the bread until the top is a beautiful golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the bread reads about 200°F, about 35 minutes.  If the bread seems to be browning too quickly and the inside is not yet done, place some aluminum foil over the bread while it continues to bake.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in pan, or else the bread will fall apart.

Gently run knife around the edges of the pan and carefully invert cooled bread into your hand, then place on a plate.  Using a wooden spoon or whisk, mix the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and lemon juice together — using more or less lemon juice depending upon your desired consistency.  Drizzle over the bread.  Stores well in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Flo Braker’s Baking for All Occasions via Leite’s Culinaria

Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie

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Stollen

Apparently this is the month I make treats that I’ve had in mind for years, but never gotten around to.  First it was this amazing chocolate mint cake that I thought about for a decade, now it’s a gorgeous stollen.  Hey, I’ve only lusted after this fantastic bread for 9 years.  I know many of you plan to entertain family and friends for the holidays, so put this one on your list.  It really stands out from the crowd.  This stollen is not only beautifully interesting, it’s absolutely delicious.  It’s loaded with good things like dried fruit, almonds, lemon and orange zest; and great things like…cognac!

The sweetness is very subtle, mostly coming through the dried fruits, though the icing is there just to make you want to keep coming back for another bite.  Though there’s a real heft, somehow the the bread stays so tender and almost delicate.  Don’t let the thought of dealing with yeast deter you here, either.  This bread may look or even seem a bit daunting, but it’s not.  The recipe is simple.  I used a stand mixer, though the entire recipe can be made in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.  It’ll take a little muscle power, but not much.  One of the reasons this bread turns out so brilliantly is due to not overworking the dough.

One final perk is that the stollen keeps well.  Of course I had a slice of it when it was still warm– because really, there was no stopping me.  It was incredible.  But here’s the thing, it was still incredible the next day and the day after that.   To store it, I simply applied plastic wrap around the cut ends and kept it in a air-tight container.  If you are busy and don’t want to deal with breakfast, this works perfectly.  Serve it along with juicy clementines and maybe even a mimosa.  Your guests will love you even more than they already do.

The Recipe:  Stollen

(makes one large wreath-shaped loaf)

5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for work surface

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup milk, warmed

1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted plus 2 more melted tablespoons for brushing, plus more for bowl

1 1/2 ounces (2 envelopes) active dry yeast or 1 ounce fresh cake yeast, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/4 cups currants soaked in 1/4 cup cognac or brandy

1 cup golden raisins and 1/4 cup dried cherries soaked in 1/4 cup orange juice

1 1/4 cups blanched almonds, chopped (see note)

3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

Zest of 2 oranges

Zest of 1 lemon

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

3-4 tablespoons orange juice

Note:  To blanch almonds place them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Let sit for a minute.  Then begin to “slip” the peelings off of them with your fingers.  Don’t let them sit in the water too long, or they will become soggy.  It’s best to blanch the almonds in advance, so they have time to dry before being mixed into the dough.

In two small bowls — soak the raisins and cherries with the orange juice and the currants with the cognac.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan with the heat on medium, combine the butter and milk until melted.  Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, mace, and nutmeg into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  With the mixer on low, add the milk and butter.  Add the yeast and eggs and mix until combined.   Detach the paddle attachment and put on the dough hook.  On top of the dough, sprinkle the currants, raisins, and cherries along with their soaking liquids.  Add the orange zest, lemon zest, apricots, and almonds.  Turn on the mixer and “knead”  until everything looks combined, roughly 2-3 minutes.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead by hand for a few seconds, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky.  Form a ball and place into a large buttered bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.

Punch down the dough.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a 16 x 24 rectangle and 1/4 – inch thick.  Starting with the long side,  roll the dough tightly into a long, thin cylinder.  Carefully transfer dough to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Form a wreath shape and join the ends together by pinching with fingers to make it stick.

Using a sharp kitchen shears, make cuts along the outside of the circle, in 1- inch intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.  Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 1 hour. The dough all not rise all that much. Brush dough with remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter.  Bake until golden brown and crusty, about 35-45 minutes.  Place baking sheet on a wire rack to cool.

Mix the confectioners’ sugar with the orange juice.  Drizzle over the stollen.  Serve warm, if desired.  Keeps very well in an airtight container and plastic wrap snug around the cut ends.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Holiday Baking Special Issue, 2002

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!

Laurie

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