Monday 14 January 2008

BBD#06 - Coffee, Almond & Choc Chip Braided Bread

When Eva of Sweet Sins announced she was this month’s host of Bread Baking Day and her chosen theme was shaped breads, I knew I had to participate. I love playing with dough, the smells, textures and flavours they produce are simply wonderful and this event sounded like one I could have a lot of fun with.

I decided to use my favourite sweet bread dough recipe, which produces a wonderfully soft and fluffy bread thanks to the use of milk and an egg which keeps the dough supple and moist. My first thought was to flavour it somehow and bake it in a ring mould, but I wanted to have more fun with it than this and so I hit upon the idea of plating/braiding it instead. As I began divide the dough into thirds for braiding, I suddenly had the idea to flavour each of the three strands of dough with a different flavour. I chose to flavour my dough with coffee, dark chocolate chips and chopped almonds along with almond essence for extra flavour.

I really liked how the braid turned out, the different appearance and flavours of dough intertwining and made the bread look speckled and intriguing. Once baked, the braid had turned lovely and golden brown and looked quite ordinary on top, but revealed its mix of flavours upon slicing. This also made it incredibly fun to eat as each bite contained a new flavour, or combination of two flavours that switched order with every slice cut. However, be warned this also makes it hard to stop eating it.

This dough is so easy to work with that I think even people who have a fear of yeast would be able to handle it. It requires very little work and looks after itself and always seems to produce excellent results. It’s also very versatile and will take to any flavours or add-ins you wish to throw at it.

Coffee, Almond & Choc Chip Braided Bread
For the bread dough
350g strong plain bread flour
50g caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
25g fresh yeast
50g butter
200ml milk
1 egg

For the added flavours
1 tbsp dark chocolate chips
2tsp instant coffee granules
1 tbsp water
2 tsp flour
20g whole almonds
½ tsp almond extract
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.Measure out the milk into a jug and cut the butter over the top of it and heat gently until warm but not to hot. (It shouldn’t get hotter than body temperature).Break up the yeast and stir into the milk mixture before whisking in the egg.
Pour this milky mixture over the flour and use your fingers to bring everything together and then kneed on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes until soft and stretchy, adding more flour if necessary. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with cling film and leave to prove for 25 minutes by which time it should have double in size.Knock back the risen dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into three equal pieces.
Knead the chocolate chips into one third of the dough and set to one side.
Mix the water into the instant coffee and add the flour to make a paste. Add this paste into another third of the dough and knead until mostly incorporated but a few streaks remain.
Chop the almonds into small chunks and knead into the final piece of dough along with the almond essence.
Using your hands, roll out the three balls of dough into long stands.
Place the strands side by side and plate them together into one loaf.
Place the loaf on a floured baking tray and brush the top with a little milk or sugared water. Preheat the oven to 210C and allow the bread to prove while the oven heats up.
When the oven is up to temperature, place the bread into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown and springy when pressed. (You may need to turn the baking tray round half way through baking if one end is browning more quickly than the other).Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire wrack to cool.
Update: The round-up is now up! Click for Part 1 & Part 2


Eva said...

I haven't had breakfast yet - and that's exactly what I'd like to eat alongside a cup of coffee! Thanks for participating!

Gigi said...

The perfect breakfast bread. Well, the perfect anytime of the day bread!

Megan said...

That looks wonderful. What a great idea to flavor each piece and then braid it all together.

Johanna GGG said...

braiding is a great idea for combining flavours - what about different colours too (I am thinking tomato and basil combo!) I don't bake nearly as much bread as I'd like but will try and remember this idea!

Cheryl said...

That is such an awesome idea to flavor the strands individually. That must have tasted amazing.

Helene said...

How gorgeous! Perfect braid!

Jannett said...

this looks like a nice bread..Great combination ...

Brilynn said...

The braid looks great and I love the flavours you chose!

Cakelaw said...

What a great looking loaf of bread!

Unknown said...

mmmm, this looks like a really yummy and flavorful bread, and it's so pretty too!

zorra said...

As coffee, chocolate and almond fan, I will try this bread soon.
What exactly is almond extract? A kind of bitter almond?

Katie said...

Zorra, almond extract is a very intensely flavoured liquid, similar to vanilla essence/extract only almond flavoured. In the UK its found next to food dyes in the baking section of supermarkets.