I’ve been spending much of my precious cooking time – that is those moments inbetween desperately looking for paid work – on learning the craft of bread making. In particular sourdough and the almost mystical powers of the mother culture which I carefully nurture; feed, keep warm, look after. I know, I know there’s no sign of my bread obsession on this blog however that will change. Soon. Its part of my bigger effort to kill the Hydra – the many – headed serpent that is the food industry – and the main reason I set up this new kitchen journal.
With that in mind I’ve looked beyond the familiar artisan sourdough loaf we’re all familiar with and into other yeast breads and cakes, foods that have played a fundamental part in cultures other than my own. This is one such delectable recipe, a chocolate Krantz cake, a classic Jewish yeast bread filled with chocolate sauce, hazelnuts and sugar and rolled in a braid shape.
Before we start. There are a few processes in this cake but if you follow the recipe its pretty straight forward and if you need pictures to help you along check out Yotam Ottolenghi or David Lebovitz. This version came from a London bakery called Honey & Co.
Oh, and if you don’t have a stand mixer – I don’t either – you can give yourself a workout by simply mixing all the ingredients by hand in a mixer bowl before turning out the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and kneading until smooth. And if you have a nut allergy then leave them out. Finally, this is all about time and patience so if you can leave your dough to chill overnight then do.
2 tsp active dry yeast or 20 g fresh yeast
100 g full or low-fat milk, very slightly warmed
1 tsp sugar
90 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
280 g plain flour
100 g unsalted butter, cubed
150 g granulated sugar
80 g bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped (at least 70% cocoa)
40 g unsweetened cocoa powder natural or Dutch-process
1 tsp ground cinnamon
65 g toasted hazelnuts walnuts, almonds or pecans, coarsely chopped
100g caster sugar
125 ml water
1 tbsp honey
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the yeast with milk and sugar and 40 g of the flour. Let rest until small bubbles appear and break the surface, about 10 – 15 minutes.
With the mixer fitted with the dough hook, on low speed, mix in the butter then the egg and salt. Gradually add the flour until it’s incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes.
If your dough seems too soft and is sticking to the sides of the mixer bowl after kneading, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it pulls away from the sides. The original recipe called for a total of 330 grams of strong white wheat flour.
Either cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and refrigerate the dough for 6 hours, or overnight, or roll out in the next step.
Butter a 23 cm loaf pan and line the bottom and up the sides with a piece of parchment paper overhanging the two long sides, which will help you remove the cake later.
To make the filling, melt the 100 g butter in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved or almost completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the cocoa powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough (chilled or at room temperature) to a rectangle 30 x 50 cm. If the dough contracts and resists when rolling it, roll it out partially into a rectangle, let it sit 5 – 10 minutes, then continue to roll it out to the final dimensions once it’s relaxed.
Spread the chocolate filling over the surface of the rectangle all the way to the edges. Strew the nuts over the chocolate. Starting at one of the long ends of the rectangle, roll up the dough tightly so you have a log that’s 50 cm long.
Using a sharp knife, slice the dough completely in half lengthwise. With the cut sides facing up, overlap the end of one cut half over the other (with the cut sides still facing up), then take the other cut half and fold it over the other, making sure the cut sides are always facing up.
Continue making a rope-like formation overlapping and twisting the two halves of the dough together until the dough into one big twist. Any nuts or filling that have fallen out, toss into the bottom of the loaf pan.
Lift the twisted loaf and squidge it into the prepared loaf pan by pushing in on the two ends, so it fits in nicely.
Put the loaf pan in a very warm place, such as near a radiator or in an oven that has a pilot light, and let rise for about two hours, until it’s puffy and almost doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, make the syrup by bringing the water, sugar, and honey to a boil in a small saucepan. Let boil for 4 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface with a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.
Fifteen minutes before you bake the Krantz cake, preheat the oven to 190ºC. Bake the cake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre (in a part where there is less chocolate filling), comes out clean of dough. There may be some bits of chocolate clinging to it, which is normal.
Remove the cake from the oven and spoon or brush the room temperature syrup over the top and let cool completely before lifting it out. Do not try to remove it or slice it while it’s warm, or it will break.
It will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature or can be frozen for up to two months, if well-wrapped.