Monday, November 11, 2019

Chocolate for breakfast

Chocolate for breakfast is my idea of a great way to start a Monday morning. The French certainly have this right in spades, as there chocolate gets stuffed into croissants or spread on slices of bread. How nice it would have been to grow up in Paris…

But that’s not to say that they’ve cornered the market on the perfect combination of bread and chocolate. My personal take on a wonderful Hong Kong-style recipe shows that breakfast can be both beautiful and delicious. Making a luscious loaf like this it will certainly put you in the running for Favorite Adult of the Year if you happen to serve it to kids. And if you are having adults over for brunch, this and a pot of coffee will all but guarantee serious adulation.

Next week I’m going to talk more about this inspired use of a simple roux known locally as “hot dough,” or tāngzhŏng 湯種, to make the bread especially moist and light. I’ll also talk more about making Pullman loaves—something you’ve probably never heard of if you are under a *certain* age—but which means the loaf is baked with a flat cover that turns it into the classic Wonder bread loaf shape. Squarish breads like this are usually called tusi in Chinese, which just means “toast,” since they are designed to be sliced and browned. When you have chocolate and other soft fillings meandering around in the dough, as in here, be sure to toast the slices for only a short time to prevent the fillings from making a getaway.
Klee, Child and Aunt, 1937

By the way, I think this bread looks like something one of my favorite artists, Paul Klee, would have adored.

Hot dough chocolate swirl pullman loaf
Tāngzhŏng qiăokèlì dàlĭshí tùsī  湯種巧克力大理石吐司
Hong Kong-ish
Makes 1 (9 x 4 inch | 22 x 10 cm) loaf
½ cup | 120 ml cool water
3 tablespoons | 25 g Chinese flour

1 teaspoon active yeast
6 tablespoons | 90 ml warm water
3 tablespoons | 35 g sugar
¼ cup | 30 g powdered milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups | 300 g Chinese flour, plus about 1 cup | 150 g for kneading
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup | 60 g | ½ stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup | 100 g chocolate sprinkles (aka jimmies)
Spray oil
Water for sprinkling

1. Start the roux at least 1 hour before you prepare the rest of the dough, as it will need time to cool off a bit. Add the water to a heatproof measuring cup and stir in the flour. Smash any major lumps that rise to the surface, and then microwave this liquid on high for 1 minute until you have a thick roux that is very elastic. Sample the roux, and if you can detect the taste of flour, microwave it for another 30 seconds or so. Stir the roux then let it come to room temperature before you proceed to the next step.

A fat, chocolate-filled snake
2. Sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. (Theoretically, you can make this bread by hand, but the dough ends up being so soft and sticky that it’s definitely easier to have the mixer do all the work.) Let the yeast bloom for about 20 minutes, and then add the cool roux, powdered milk, egg, flour, and salt. Mix these together and then knead on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and silky. Add the butter and continue to knead the dough for another 5 minutes or so to really build up the gluten. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm area until the dough is at least double in size, around 1 to 2 hours. Dump the puffy dough out on to a board covered with flour and knead it by hand until it is not very sticky. Cover it again and let the dough rise until it is again at least double in size.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it for a minute or so to wake it up. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, shaped these into balls, cover with the plastic wrap, and let them rest for about 20 minutes to fully relax the dough and make it easier to shape.

4. Working on one piece at a time, roll a ball of dough out into a 30 x 6 inch | 75 x 15 cm rectangle. Dust the chocolate sprinkles down the middle of the strip. Fold each of the long edges toward the center, pinch the open edge into the roll to close it, and then roll the rope gently to smooth it out a bit. Repeat with the other ball of dough.

And the snake coiled
5. Spray your Pullman loaf pan and lid with oil. Coil the ropes into the pan so that they are more or less evenly filling the bottom, and so that the top of the dough is more or less even—you don’t have to be terribly accurate, but this step will help the loaf rise more evenly. Sprinkle the dough with water and then cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it almost reaches the top of the pan. (Remember that you must be able to slide the lid on top, so don’t let the dough overproof.)

6. Set a rack just below the middle of your oven and set it for 350°F | 175°C. When the oven is ready, sprinkle water over the dough to create steam inside the pan. Slide the lid onto the pan, set the pan in the oven, and bake for around 30 minutes. When you open the pan, the loaf should be a lovely golden brown and sound hollow when you tap it in the center. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the loaf out onto a cake rack, and let it cool before cutting it into slices.