A tender buttery bread, twisted with gooey Nutella, dark chocolate and crunchy hazelnuts. A delicious weekend bake, and the perfect accompaniment to your Sunday morning coffee.
Since Christmas I’ve been trying to avoid eating to much bread. Partly because we lived off bread and instant noodles the last month or so of our travels, partly because I feel better when I don’t eat them. I did a couple of whole30s last year, and as soon as I went back to eating bread and pasta and other stodgy carbs I lost the lovely light, clean feeling I’d had.
Perhaps one of the more important reasons why i’m trying to cut down my bread intake, however, is because I just love it so much. Its one of my real feasting trigger foods, the pringles of carbs for me.
To put it simply I adore bread. It would be my desert island food of choice. White crusty bread smoothed in salty butter, pizza ladened with cheese and toppings, soft chewy pretzels, crunchy seeded wholewheat rolls, cinnamon swirls, billowing pillowy pita. The thought alone makes me hungry and sets my mouth watering. Once I start with bread I find it so very hard to stop eating it. I can happily take on an entire large pizza myself if you let me. It wouldn’t be too much trouble for me to work my way through most of a baguette. So, every once in a while it does me good to just say no to all bread.
I was doing quite well with January, apart from devouring a burger when we spent the weekend away for a wedding, and cracking over a few slices of buttery toast, I’d managed to avoid it quite well.
That is, until I made this bread. Looking back, it was probably a mistake to make a bread filled with one of my favourite ingredients at a time when I was trying not to eat too much. I was never going to be able to give it all away without trying at least one little slice. This little slice turned into 3 big wedges before I dragged my guilt ridden self away.
This is a truly delicious bread. Made from a rich brioche style dough filled with butter and eggs, its tender and golden inside. The crust crisps beautifully and is glazed with a sugar syrup giving you that beautiful satisfying crunch as you make that first slice through.
The bread is rolled up, then cut in half down the length of the dough to reveal the layers, then twisted together.
Running through the swirls and twists are veins of gooey nutella and melting chocolate. Each slice is beautifully marbled. Hazelnuts add bite and crunch. They spill out a little as the bread bakes creating tempting bites of nuts and chocolate across the surface.
A few gently warmed slices would make a delicious weekend breakfast, and its also perfect with a strong coffee.
– twisting the dough can be tricky. You want to keep all the filling and the layers facing upwards. It can help to have two pair of hands working here, so get someone to help if you can. If you need a bit of help, the waitrose kitchen magazine contains a good visual of how to twist the dough.
– i roughly chopped whole hazelnuts to give a variety of textures within the bread. Some were very finely chopped, other were left chunkier. If you’d prefer you could substitute with ready chopped hazelnuts, but I think the different sized chunks really do add something to the bread.
Nutella Chocolate Babka
(adapted from Waitrose Kitchen magazine)
for the dough
500g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
10g easy bake yeast
3 medium eggs, beaten
150g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
for the filling
70g butter, melted
180g nutella, softened to a spreadable consistency (I popped mine in the microwave for 15 seconds)
100g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
50g dark chocolate chips
Mix the flour, salt and 75g of the sugar together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and tip in the yeast.
In a small pan, heat the milk to just below boiling point.
Pour into the well in your flour, then pour in the eggs. Mix everything together until you have a sticky dough.
Knead in the butter with your hands. It will go very sticky for a while, and seem like it will never be a firm dough, but keep going. It will come together.
Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for two hours, or until doubled in size.
Knock the dough back, and the roll out on a floured surface. You’re aiming for a rectangle measuring 60cm x 40cm.
Brush the melted butter evenly across the bread. It will seem like quite a lot of butter, and it may pool a little over your dough, but thats ok.
Spread the Nutella over the butter, then sprinkle over the chopped nuts and the chocolate chips.
Take one of the longer sides of the dough and roll inwards, as if you were making cinnamon rolls.
Slice it down the middle, splitting it into two long semi circular sausages. You’ll be able to see the layers and the filling, and it may spill out a little.
Pinch two ends together to join, then twist the two sides over and over each other. Pinch the dough together at the other end.
Shape the twisted dough into a circle, and join together.
Transfer onto a lined baking sheet, and cover with cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ 350F.
Bake the bread for about 45 minutes until golden. Keep a close eye on it, and cover with tin foil if it is browning too quickly.
Remove from the oven.
Boil the 75g of remaining sugar with 75g of water until sticky and syrupy.
Brush half the syrup over the bread while its still warm. Once the bread has cooled, brush with the remaining half.
Slice into wedges to serve. Store in an airtight container.