Braided Chocolate Hazelnut Bread

Added on by Caroline Zhang.

Making yeast recipes here at college requires a lot of careful calculation. I'll make the dough before I need to head out for a meeting while it's rising. Then I'll stick it in the fridge overnight if I'm on top of things, longer if I'm forgetful, shape it into a loaf the next day, stick it into the freezer and forget about it. A couple of days or weeks later, I'll get a craving for something warm and carb-y; I'll take the frozen loaf out of the fridge in the morning (this step takes a couple of days, since I'm caffeine-deprived / half-asleep / running around trying to get ready for class, and never can remember to get stuff done in the morning). Anyways, whenever the defrosting / second rise happens, I'll bake it later that day.

Whew. And that doesn't even take into account trying to coordinate this to take place during the daylight hours so I can get pictures. Let's just say that when you have to set an alarm for your 1 pm class, you aren't awake for very many of them.

Anyways, somehow the stars aligned and I managed to both make and blog about this bread. Presenting: Braided Chocolate Hazelnut Bread, my first yeast recipe I've baked/photographed at school. And it's totally worth it.

It's a sweet bread loaf, filled with a custard-y cream cheese filling and Nutella. It's chocolate-y, sweet, fluffy and soft, and made the whole hallway in the dorm smell like baking bread.

The braiding looks complicated, but it's really not. Here, I'll show you:

First, roll out the dough into a rectangle. Draw two lines in the dough with a wooden spoon, dividing it into thirds.

Spread with the chocolate hazelnut spread of your choice. The folks at Nocciolata gave me a free sample, so that's what I used.

Spread the cream cheese mixture on top.

Cut slits down the side of the dough rectangle.

Fold the end over the filling. Then fold one strip on top of the filling, and criss-cross the strip from the other side on top of it.

Continue doing this...

When you are down to the last two strips, fold the end of the dough over the filling first, then overlap the two strips on top of it.

Let rise, brush with egg wash and sugar, and bake!

And of course, add some Nutella on top for good measure.

Enjoy!
Caroline

**Disclaimer - Nocciolata provided me a free sample of their product to review. All opinions are my own.


Click here for the printer-friendly recipe.

Braided Chocolate Hazelnut Bread

Yields: one 12-inch loaf   |   Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

For the sponge:

6 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoon instant yeast
¼ cup all-purpose flour

For the dough:
Sponge (from above)
6 tablespoon plain yogurt
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour

For the filling:

⅓ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
⅓ cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nocciolata or Nutella

For assembly:

1 egg, beaten
raw sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the ingredients for the sponge. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm place for 15 minutes. The sponge will expand and look foamy.
  2. Make the dough. Whisk together the yogurt, butter, egg, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix in the sponge from the previous step. Mix in the flour. Knead for several minutes until the dough forms a smooth elastic ball.
  3. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size.
  4. Make the filling. Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, yogurt and flour. Set aside.
  5. Make the braid. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a 15 inch x 10 inch rectangle. Transfer it to a greased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, draw 2 lines in the dough lengthwise, dividing it into 3 equal long rectangles.
  7. Spread the chocolate hazelnut spread down the center rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border on either end.
  8. Spread the cream cheese filling on top.
  9. Cut the outer two rectangles into 1-inch-wide strips, leaving ½ - 1 inch between the base of the cuts and the filling.
  10. Fold one end of the bread over the filling. Fold first strip on one of the sides over the filling. Fold strip on the other side over the first one, criss-crossing them.
  11. Continue this process, alternating between sides, until you are left with the last two strips. Fold the other end of the bread over the filling. Crisscross the last two strips on top.
  12. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes, until very puffy.
  13. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  14. Brush the dough with the egg, and sprinkle with raw sugar.
  15. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until the bread is a deep golden brown. Let cool and serve!