SMiLes by Meg

Braided Nutella Bread

I have been on a big yeasted bread kick this year, which is really quite a step forward in my baking life. I used to be terrified of recipes that included yeast. You invest so much time up front in making the dough, that the fear of it not rising often scared me off from starting at all.

I mean, it’s always a hold-your-breath moment when you lift the towel covering the bowl after an hour to see if the dough has magically doubled in size – and when it doesn’t, you’ve often wasted a large amount of your flour and time.

But this year I’ve sucked it up and started trusting myself, and it’s working! Maybe it’s my obsessive habit of using my Thermopen to test the water temperature before activating the yeast. Maybe I’ve just advanced enough in my baking skills that I’m looking for something new to master. Whatever it is, I’m really enjoying making these recipes – though the total hours tend to be long, you get a great result, and the hands-on time isn’t huge. Waiting for dough to rise is time I can use to read for class or clean the apartment. So even when I’m having a busy weekend, yeast breads don’t take away too much of my productive time.

Anyways, this one comes from Kokocooks (and really I found it on Pinterest). If you keep Nutella around, you probably have all of the ingredients on hand.

To further my commitment to yeast, I finely sprang for a jar of active dry yeast this week, instead of my usual packets. I feel like a real bread baker with yeast in my fridge. Plus, this recipe called for a random 1/2 teaspoon of yeast, while a packet is more like 2 1/2 teaspoons. So it felt like as good a time as any.

First, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water. Let it activate for 10 minutes. In a stand mixer, combine the flour and salt.Add the yeast mixture and remaining 3/4 cup warm water.Using the dough hook, start on low speed to combine, then increase to medium speed and run mixer for 5 to 7 minutes, until dough smooth and elastic.

This is the first time I trusted my dough hook to knead dough for me. Or at least tried to. Old habits die hard, though, so after 5 minutes I did knead it by hand a bit to make sure I liked the consistency.

Whatever you decide, put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm place for an hour to double in size. Roll dough out on a floured surface into a 12×15 inch rectangle.Spread Nutella over dough, leaving a half inch border.Wondering why mine looks so not smooth? That would be because Whole Foods, of course, doesn’t carry Nutella. So I bought the Justin’s version of chocolate hazelnut spread (after spending a solid 5 minutes reading the labels of all of my options – I came really close to scrapping the Nutella option for Biscoff cookie spread, but decided that probably wouldn’t taste or look as good), which, it turns out, is much more peanut butter consistency than smooth and runny.

But none of that matters, because once you roll it up, it looks the same.Cut down the middle, leaving one edge intact.Wrap the two sides around each other and seal at the end.Cover with a towel for 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 375°F.

After 20 minutes, brush with egg wash to coat.

Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Increase temperature to 425°F and continue cooking for 5 minutes until golden.Remove from baking sheet and place on wire rack to cool completely.And now you’ve got braided Nutella bread! Super impressive looking, not a ton of work (surprisingly).After trying a slice while warm, my first thought was that this is going to make some killer French Toast. Looks like I’m gonna have a good breakfast week.

Enjoy!

Braided Nutella Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • Cornmeal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of water and allow to sit for 10 minutes to activate.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt.
  3. Add the yeast mixture and remaining water. Mix on low speed until just combines, then increase to medium speed for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  4. Place dough in oiled bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise until doubled in size in a warm place, about an hour.
  5. Roll dough out on floured surface until 12×15 inch rectangle. Spread with Nutella, leaving a 1/2 inch border around edges.
  6. Roll up dough and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal. Slice lengthwise in half, leaving one end connected. Wrap halves around each other, turning Nutella side facing out, and join at end.
  7. Cover with towel and allow to rest 20 minutes.
  8. Whisk together egg and tablespoon of water to make egg wash. Brush dough to coat.
  9. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Increase temperature to 425°F and bake an additional 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.

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