Chocolate Spiral Bread

Using melted chocolate gives this a much richer flavor than using cocoa would. A slice of this bread is delicious toasted and buttered for breakfast or in the afternoon with a cup of tea or coffee.

Makes two 9 x 5 x 5-inch loaves

6 3/4 cups bread flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 1/2 cups milk, scalded

1 cup warm tap water, about 110˚F

2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast

1/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 ounces semisweet chocolate (55 to 65% cocoa solids), melted and slightly cooled

1 tablespoon melted butter for finishing

Two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans, buttered or oiled

1.     Stir 6 1/2 cups flour, sugar, and salt together and set aside.

2.     Stir the butter into the 1 1/2 cups hot milk, pour it into a shallow bowl, and let it cool to room temperature.

3.     Once the milk has cooled, pour the water into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk in the yeast. Wait 1 minute, then whisk again to make sure the yeast is completely dissolved. Whisk in the milk and butter mixture.

4.     Use a large rubber spatula to stir in about half of the flour mixture. Stir in the rest in 3 or 4 additions to form a rough dough in which there is no longer any unmoistened flour.

5.     Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the dough hook and beat on medium speed until the dough is somewhat smoother but not perfectly smooth, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

6.     Divide the dough into two pieces, one of which is twice as large as the other. Put the larger piece of dough into an oiled bowl and turn it so that the top is oiled; cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled. Return the smaller piece of dough to the mixer, still fitted with the dough hook.

7.     Whisk the 1/4 cup milk and cinnamon into the chocolate and scrape the mixture into the mixer bowl. Mix on lowest speed until the dough absorbs the chocolate liquid. Let the dough rest 10 minutes, then mix again on low for 2 more minutes. Put the chocolate dough into an oiled bowl and turn it so that the top is oiled; cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled.

8.     Deflate the white and chocolate doughs and return them to the bowls to rise again until doubled.

9.     Scrape the white dough from the bowl to a work surface floured with the remaining 1/4 cup flour and roll or press the dough into a 16-inch square (the square of dough is not as wide as the two pans, but will stretch an extra inch or two when it’s being rolled). Press or roll the chocolate dough into an 8 x 16-inch rectangle. Brush the surface of the white dough with water. Position the rectangle of chocolate dough on it, leaving a 1-inch margin of white dough on the edge closest to you.

10.  Fold over the inch of white dough onto the chocolate dough and then roll up the whole package jelly-roll-style to make one long cylinder of dough. (The extra white dough at the end attractively frames the chocolate spiral within.)

11.  Cut the roll in half in the length and press each roll into one of the prepared pans, seam side down. Cover the pans with oiled plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. When risen, the dough should be at least 1 inch above the rim of the pan.

12.  When the loaves are almost completely risen, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400˚F.

13.  Once the loaves are completely risen, uncover them and place them on the rack in the oven, short side inward. Bake until the bread is well risen, deep golden, and firm, with an internal temperature of 200˚F to 210˚F, about 45 minutes.

14.  Unmold to a rack and cool the loaves on their sides. If you want the crust to be very soft, have a tablespoon of melted butter ready when you unmold the bread and use a brush to paint all surfaces of the loaves with the butter.