I’m a bread baker with a passion. But mostly my passion frowns at all the heavy duty kneading that breads make you do. So I’m forever looking for techniques and recipes that make work easy and give the most beautiful results. I don’t occasionally mind a shoulder workout, but mostly I adore my stand mixer. Yes, Its insulting to call someone like me lazy.
This heart bread was my valentine offering. Only I was being a little broken hearted…and exposing all the vulnerability and beauty of what’s within. Funny enough that’s what a real heart is like…. You expose the vulnerability and beauty within and Suddenly your vulnerability makes you the most gorgeous human being ever.
This is a Celtic knot that has been shaped in a heart shape.
I am generally not very keen on making a sweet dough because invariably after I make the bread dough I will find that have run out of chocolate or Nutella or I just suddenly have different cravings now. Instead of craving, for may be a strawberry and walnuts bread, I am craving a bread which is loaded with herbs and cheese and is super spicy.
My favorite combination is caramelized onions and walnuts.
But sweet doughs are a dream to work with. they are soft and pliable and absolutely amazing. Totally non sticky, you can roll this dough thin or thick and it will go where you want it to go. I got the idea from Rose levy Brenenbaun’s Bread Bible. Even her croissant dough is so easy to work with. So because, now the last 2 months, I have been making bread without using my stand mixer so I do all the kneading with my hands and by just changing a small technique of making bread dough I made my work extremely easy.
I’ve got to share with you this technique with which I make this dough. it reduces the amount of mess on your hands ,it’s easy on your shoulders and it takes comparatively less time but gives you the same result.
Baby bottom soft dough!
So Instead of kneading the dough by using lukewarm water and stretching the dough as much as possible. The technique that I use out here is mixing the dough. So I divide the ingredients of the recipe into two parts- the dry and the wet.
Mainly warming the liquid with the fat and making it into one emulsion. Sugar and salt are added to make the addition easy, so that it’ll blend well with the flour. This mixing technique makes the dough more pliable and easier to knead.
Follow the instructions and adopt the procedure as your own.
Celtic Heart Chocolate Almond Braided Bread
500 grams’ all-purpose flour or Maida
220 mils milk
60 grams Butter-I used Amul salted
15 grams or 3 teaspoons of instant dry yeast
120 grams’ sugar
10 grams’ salt
One egg optional -if not using the egg add 40 grams’ extra butter
A little oil to grease the bowl
150 GM’s Nutella or white chocolate almond paste and cocoa powder or butter cinnamon powder and brown sugar.. whatever you wish to fill
Place the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and give a quick mix with a spoon. You are essentially whisking up the flour and the yeast. I can do this because I’m using instant dry yeast. You can mix active dry yeast in the warm sweet milk.
In a saucepan, place the liquids, the milk and butter and warm till the butter melts. Add in the sugar and salt, because they will dissolve easier.
Take care to not scald the milk and butter mix. If it’s too hot, it can kill the instant yeast cells and scramble the egg even before It can do its magic.
The egg, is a cause a choice that you make out here. That one egg will make the dough more enriched.
So when you’re making dressy breads, the enriched dough keeps the bread pretty.
Stir in the warm milk mix and try to blend in.
Before you add in the warm liquid, crack the egg into the flour, mix and break the yolk and then pour in the liquid stirring with the fork to bring the liquid and the dry flour together you will get and unmixed batter kind of dough.
All you’ll need to do is then, is sprinkle some flour on your work surface, pop out the dough and knead.
The kneading technique is also slightly different. Instead of using the heel of your palm to break up the dough and push it as far as you can go, so as to aid the development of gluten, all you need to do is just stretch the dough little bit and bring it back, stretch the dough little bit and bring it back …
You can check this out in the video that I have posted.
Once you get to that stage, make the dough into a ball, tuck the edges under and place in a big bowl covered with a lid. Sit it in a warm space so that the dough can proof and rise.
Once the dough has doubled, you just need to sprinkle flour on the work surface and using the rolling pin roll out the dough into a large rectangle almost 18 inches by 12 inches wide.
This dough is easy to roll out and just carefully lift the dough a few times while rolling it out so that you are able to roll out very easily.
once you are rolled out the dough to your desired size, spread the Nutella or white chocolate or preserve or Cinnamon and sugar making sure that you leave at least half an inch on one side so that the log is sealed.
Roll up the dough, dampen the only strip you left blank so that the log seals.
With an extremely sharp knife or as in my case a bench scraper, cut the log in the center to split it into two ropes.
I made this Celtic heart after a little practice but you can make any design you wish to.
all you need to remember is to keep the cut side facing up, because that is what looks the prettiest.
Place the shaped bread on a parchment paper. I used my bench scraper to ensure the dip stay for the heart. You can use a cookie cutter.
If you have a heart shaped cake mould, braid your bread like you would a babka and place it in the mould. That makes life easier and will give you the most gorgeous bread.
Allow the bread to sit in a warm place for at least half an hour or place in the Fridge for a few hours. If you place it in the fridge, ensure you cover it well, or it will dry out.
Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 180C.
I did not use an egg to brush the bread before baking, I just used a little bit of milk. But the best dressing before baking is always done with an egg yolk.
As a standard operating procedure, mix the yolk of an egg with a little water and use that as the brushing liquid.
If you are not interested in using eggs, feel free to omit the egg, but make sure you add at least 40 grams’ extra butter to the liquid, so as to balance out the richness of the sweet bread dough.
Bake the bread for at least 25-35 minutes. The Nutella will begin to caramelize and smell gorgeous. The fats inside will melt and meld with the butter in the dough. The dough will rise to a crisp exterior and soft buttery inside.
Can you call that heaven?
Your whole house will smell like a Christmas party and a brunch buffet rolled into one.
All you need to do is tie a red ribbon on this heart and hang it in the window…keep taking bites and drinking cups of coffee.
This is what bread should be like. Just tear and eat. Not about slicing and eating,this bread is rustic , layered with flavour and awesome.
You can fill it with any filling of your choice. The almond and white chocolate spread was out of a bottle, but the dusting of cocoa took this to another level altogether.