Early Morning Chocolate Swirled Pastry Bread
June 14, 2012 § 3 Comments
I like the idea of getting up early in the morning – seeing the sunrise, soft morning light seeping through tree branches, Biscuit blinking sleepily on his dog bed at the first morning movement, as a whole day looms ahead of me full of endless possibilities. In the morning, everything is new and full of promise. After a deep sleep, things seem more alive and restored. Plants stretch and unfold, soaking in the warmth and light, squirrels scamper up and down trees in the yard, our cat Huckleberry is momentarily good friends with Biscuit and gently rubs against his long legs.
But after about a full minute of enjoying this slow morning time, the pace drastically changes. Biscuit starts whining and Huckleberry starts yammering. They must be fed IMMEDIATELY! I have to make the bed, walk Biscuit, do a load of laundry, pack a lunch, shower, gather all of my belongings together and get out the door as soon as possible. Needless to say, sitting down and savoring breakfast, is not a top priority. Most weekday beginnings, after the first glimpse of morning sunlight, are harried and frenzied.
Saturday mornings, however, are blissful. I rise early, not because of a blaring alarm clock, but because my internal clock tells me to get up. I enjoy the first few moments of morning light, Biscuit’s sleepy eye blinks, stretches, and Huckleberry’s congeniality like weekday mornings, and then I take the time to prepare a slow breakfast.
This week, I prepared chocolate swirled pastry bread. For me, preparing bread early in the morning is one of the wonderful simple pleasures in life. The process is impossible to rush and with this slowing down, things in life also start to become easy, gradual and deliberate. I have been reading the book French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon and came across this quote by Janet Luhrs, “Cooking can be an act of love and delight, or it can be yet another exercise in racing through life on automatic pilot- never stopping for a moment to notice, feel or taste. Cooking prepared as an act of love brings us renewed energy and vigor.” Slow Saturday mornings seemed in perfect alignment with Luhrs’ thinking.
When making the chocolate swirled pastry bread last Saturday morning, I tried to bake as an act of “love and delight” as Luhrs suggested. I enjoyed the process, felt the shapes and folds of the smooth, elastic dough. I inhaled slowly as the chocolate melted for the ganache and took the time to notice the richer more rounded smell as I added the butter, syrup, egg and rum. I observed the beautiful contrast of the dark ganache on yellow pastry dough and how the butter in the dough glistened as it warmed and rose. The bread baked and filled the house with the sweet smell of chocolate and buttery pastry dough.
As I enjoyed two warm slices of bread on the patio table, I felt just as Luhrs described: renewed with energy and vigor. Even though the rising and baking time added up to hours, I did not feel anxious, harried or frenzied like most mornings that I am wrestling with time, but relaxed, rejuvenated, and satisfied. It may not be possible to devote hours to baking a pastry bread every morning, but I do know it is possible to enjoy the remnants of slow Saturday morning baking during the weekday mornings. If only for a couple minutes, I can sit on the patio on warm summer mornings, and slow down momentarily to notice the taste, touch and smell of a slow baked pastry bread made with love and delight.
Early Morning Chocolate Swirled Pastry Bread
For the Brioche Bread:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted
7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg beaten for egg wash spread on top of bread
granulated sugar for sprinkling on top
For the Chocolate Ganache:
1/4 pound good quality bittersweet chocolate chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
5 tablespoons corn syrup
1 tablespoon rum
1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
The Brioche dough is best prepared the day before, but can be made day of by decreasing the amount of flour by 1 cup.
Dough Directions: Mix the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter in a electric mixing bowl or large mixing bowl. Slowly mix in the flour on a low speed until all of the flour is incorporated. Transfer dough to a 5 qt. storage container and allow to sit and rise for about two hours (the dough should double in size and begin to collapse. Refrigerate dough in a lidded, but not airtight, and store overnight
Early Morning Chocolate Swirl Pastry Bread Directions:
Prepare the chocolate ganache first. Melt the chocolate in a double broiler. Immediately remove from heat when all of chocolate is melted. Stir in butter until incorporated.
Mix together the cocoa powder, rum and corn syrup until smooth. Add to the chocolate mixture.
Lightly butter a 9x4x3 inch loaf pan.
Dust the surface of stored Brioche dough with flour and cut off a one pound piece of dough (there will be dough leftover that can be stored and used for more baking) Shape dough into a ball and then roll out into a ¼ inch thick rectangle with a rolling pin. Dust with flour lightly if dough is becoming sticky.
Spread ½ cup of the chocolate ganache over the center of the dough rectangle and spread on dough leaving a 1 inch border on all sides. Start at the bottom short edge of the rectangle and roll dough. Tuck ends of the loaf beneath and form into a oval loaf and place in the loaf pan.
Let dough rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes in a warm spot.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake the loaf for 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Remove loaf from pan and cool slightly.
Spread remaining ganache on top of the loaf and reserve some for dipping.