I’ve just returned from a week up in Scotland at my parent’s on Mull. I’ll be writing up a travel diary of the week soon, after part 2 of my New York trip, but while I was away I baked a number of things. Rainy days on the Isle of Mull are ideal for baking. You’re not going to get much else done, apart from a quick walk of the dog around the loch all wrapped up in waterproofs, so what better way to spend a day than in the kitchen baking? I made a number of things on this trip, but with the Great British Bake off well underway (and the possibility that it could all go to shit with a move to Channel 4) and bread week featuring a challenge for baking chocolate bread, I thought I’d start with the Cardamom & Chocolate loaf we made on the first day.
We’d made a couple of cardamom braids just the week before, and these had turned out wonderfully well. The recipe we chose for this one wasn’t all that dissimilar to the one we’d used previously; it just used a little less cardamom, added chocolate and baked in a loaf tin instead of as one long braid. The slice along the long edge also gives it a different pattern and allows the chocolate to create a pattern on top.
The key to this is a good lengthy session of kneading. If you don’t, it won’t rise properly and you’ll be left with a dense loaf. The oil (butter) will be kneaded in separately to everything else and you want to make sure it’s well dispersed throughout the dough before you roll it out and add the chocolate. Then, when it’s rising, make sure you wrap up warm and dry to take your dog around the lo… oh, wait, that was just us.
- 120ml whole milk
- 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, divided
- 270g, white bread flour plus 2 tbsps if necessary and more for dusting
- 50g granulated sugar
- 1½ tsps active dry yeast
- 1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
- ½ tsp salt
- 50g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into ½-inch cubes, divided, plus more for greasing
- 60g dark choc (about 70%), very finely chopped
- Warm the milk to about 40°C, stir through the sugar and yeast.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a large bowl) combine the flour, cardamom and salt. Add the milk and mix until it forms a dough. If using the mixer, attach the dough hook and set it to low for about 4-5 minutes, if doing it by hand, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 6-7 minutes.
- Add in the butter 10 grams at a time, each time kneading until completely incorporated, this could take a few minutes each time.
- Once completely incorporated knead for a further 4 minutes (7 by hand) until you've got a soft and elastic dough. If you need to add a little more flour to stop it from being too wet, this is when to do it.
- Form the dough into a ball. Lightly grease a large bowl and transfer the ball of dough, seam side down, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 30-60mins until it has doubled in size.
- Once it has, knock the dough back to remove the air, form it back into a ball and allow it to rise for a further 30-60 minutes, until it's doubled again.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a rectangle that's about 33x25cm.
- Spread the butter over the top and scatter the chopped chocolate over it.
- Starting with one of the short ends, roll into a tight log, pinching the ends to seal.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half, lengthways.
- With the cup side facing up, pinch together two of the ends and braid the logs tightly, pinching the other end.
- Transfer to a greased loaf tin, cut sides up, cover with more cling film and leave for about 30 minutes, until it's touching the edges of the tin.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan assisted).
- Whisk the remaining egg yolk with 2 tbsps of water and brush over the top of the loaf. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 25-28 minutes, until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the middle reads 88°C.
- Allow to cool on a rack for 20 minutes in the tin before turning out and allowing to cool completely on the rack.