If you’ve been lucky enough to find some strong bread flour during lockdown, then don’t feel you only have to make a standard loaf. This recipe will allow you to create something which is essentially a dessert. A giant pain au chocolat, if you will, best served with custard or ice cream!
This is a slightly more involved recipe than a basic loaf, but it is worth the investment. Enjoy!
- 250g Strong White Bread Flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 7g Fast-action dried yeast
- 15g Caster Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 100g Unsalted butter (softened)
- 125ml Warm milk
- 2 tsps Vanilla extract or paste
- 75ml Golden Syrup
- 50g Extra Dark Chocolate (shaved using a vegetable peeler)
- 1 Medium Egg (beaten)
You will need a 7”/18cm round spring-form cake tin.
Lightly grease and line with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
In a mixing bowl, mix the yeast, strong bread flour, sugar and salt together. Rub in half the butter. The mixture should begin to look like fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the mixture.
Pour half the milk into the well.
Add about 75% of the beaten egg, and gently stir into the flour. Form a smooth paste in the middle, and mix in the remaining milk stirring as you go. You want a sticky dough in the centre of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto the work surface. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. The dough should no longer stick to the work surface, it will take about 10 minutes.
In one of the basic rules of bread-making, if you find the dough is too wet and sticky, only use flour to dust the work surface or your hands. The longer you work the dough, the less sticky it will become.
Take a large, lightly oiled bowl and place the dough inside. The bowl should be big enough to for dough to double in size (approximately).
Cover the bowl with a (clean!) tea towel, and leave to rise at room temperature. It should take 2-3 hours for the dough to double in size. Find the warmest spot in the house and be patient!
Once you’re happy the dough has risen sufficiently, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface and form into a ball. Leave it to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Now comes the tricky bit … concentrate!
Roll the dough into an oblong shape, about 60cm x 20 cm (23 ½” x 8”). The dough may be challenging to roll, but use a little flour (it can be any flour) and you can stretch it gently (try not to overhandle) into the right shape.
Mix the remaining butter with the vanilla paste or essence (whatever you have to hand) and spread over the dough. Drizzle about 2/3 (50ml) of the syrup over the dough, and sprinkle with the dark chocolate shavings.
Tightly roll the dough like a Swiss Roll. Start with one of the long sides, roll it over to make a fat sausage shape, and then rock the dough back and forth to seal the join. Now, coil the dough around itself, leaving no air gaps, and roll the top gently with a rolling pin.
Carefully lower the dough into the tin. There should be a gap of about 1cm (1/2 inch) around the edge of the dough.
Cover the tin with greased cling film and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until it is twice the size.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F (180C fan assisted)
Take the beaten egg you kept back, and brush over the dough.
Put the tin on a baking tray. Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes. You want the top to be a rich golden brown, so you may have to adopt the Bake Off pose in front of the oven.
When you take the loaf out, tap the bottom – it should sound hollow.
Turn the bread onto a wire rack, and – yes – brush over the remaining syrup.
Cool the bread for at least 60-90 minutes before serving.
You can eat it on its own as a tear-and-share experience, or slice and have with custard or ice cream.
The best use of strong bread flour, like, ever!