Chocolate filled “tsoureki”

Labour of love. And by love I mean eternal, unconditional, devotion and worship. I LOVE “tsoureki”. And I have always said that, it’s not just an easter bread but, a year-long enjoyment.

I have tried and tested many methods of making “tsoureki”. If I had to give you one tip is to knead it as if your life depends on it. And for the best possible results, you do need a mixer fitted with a dough hook, unless you have unbelievable strong arms, which I don’t.

I have been recently experimenting with the “tangzhong” method and I have to say, it achieves very fluffy results. In fact, so fluffy, that I needed to bake the “tsoureki” in a loaf pan for it not to spread, and lose its shape.

About the filling, you can go ahead and just use Nutella, but that is too sweet for my taste. I created my own filling with dark chocolate and butter. I did add some Nutella in there, because I couldn’t resist! But the sweetness was just perfectly balanced.

This is a gorgeous and delicious sweet bread. Braiding will take some practice to perfect but, who cares about that, when the taste is so incredibly amazing.

Ingredients:

For the “tangzhong”:

  • 100 g water
  • 25 g strong (bread) flour (“horiatiko”, green label)

For the dough:

  • 30 g orange peel
  • 140 g granulated sugar
  • 100 g whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 500 g strong (bread) flour (“horiatiko”, green label)
  • 11 g dry active yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 115 g unsalted butter

For the filling:

  • 150 g dark chocolate (about 40-50% cocoa solids)
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 25 g cocoa powder
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • 50 g Nutella

Method:

Make the “tangzhong” by placing water and flour over medium-high heat and stirring until a paste forms.

Remove from heat and add directly to the mixer bowl. Pour over the milk.

In a small blender, chop orange peel and sugar. Add to the mixer bowl together with the eggs, flour, yeast, salt and butter. Knead for 10-15 minutes, until dough is very stretchy and doesn’t break when pulled.

Transfer dough in a buttered bowl. Cover and proof for 2-3 hours until double in size.

Make the filling by melting chocolate and butter in a double boiler (bain-marie). Mix in cocoa powder, sugar and Nutella. Mixture will be slightly thick.

Line the base and sides of a 12 x 22 loaf pan with greaseproof paper, leaving some hanging from the sides.

After dough has doubled, tip on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 40 x 50 cm rectangle. Spread the filling on the entire surface of the dough using a small spatula or butter knife.

Roll dough into a log, starting from the wide side. Cut log in half lengthwise to expose the filling. Then half those pieces to create four. Make a 4-strand braid (watch video on how to braid). Alternatively you can create three pieces and make a 3-strand braid.

Transfer braid into loaf pan. Cover with a tea towel and let it stand for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 175 C, fan.

After 30 minutes, bake “tsoureki” for 45-50 minutes. If the surface becomes too dark, cover loosely with foil.

Cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Use the paper overhang to transfer “tsoureki” on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.

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