A movie night out, game night with friends, a full afternoon at a museum... it was a great weekend. The kickoff to the weekend began with a beautiful creation...
And sprinkled with sparkling sugar.
And this is how it's done...
Braided Nutella Cheese Bread
Adapted from smitten kitchenSponge
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with 1 teaspoon water for brushing bread
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
Pearl sugar* or sparkling white sugar for sprinkling
Nutella cheese filling
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons (5/8 ounces) sugar
3 tablespoons Nutella spread
1. To make the sponge, add the sponge ingredients small bowl. Stir ingredients to combine well then loosely cover with plastic wrap. Set it aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. To make dough in a stand mixer, you should combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is kind of chunky, but well incorporated. Switch to the dough hook and knead on until it forms the dough becomes soft and smooth. This should take about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes. The dough should nearly double in this time.
a. (To make dough by hand, you should begin by whisking together sour cream, butter, egg, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in sponge, then add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. This would be a good time to go ahead and use your hands! Turn ball of dough and any incorporated scraps onto a counter and knead until a smooth, soft dough forms. This should take about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes. The dough should nearly double in this time.
3. To make the filling (while dough rises), begin by combining the sugar and cream cheese in a small bowl. Whip together until it becomes fluffy. Add the Nutella and mix until well incorporated and smooth.
4. To prepare the bread, begin by gently deflating the dough and rolling it out on a very well floured counter. Aim for an approximate 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Do your best to transfer the rectangle to a large piece of parchment paper. Press two lines down the dough lengthwise lightly with the side of your hand. This should divide the rectangle into three equal columns. Spread the Nutella cream cheese filling down the center section, leaving the top and bottom two inches free of filling.
5. To create the braid in the bread, cut crosswise strips one inch apart down the length of the outer columns of you dough (the parts without filling). Be sure you have an equal amount of 1-inch strips down the right and left sides. I used a bench scraper that worked wonderfully. Remove the four corner segments (the top two on each side). To “braid” the dough, fold the top flap down and bottom flap up over the filling. Lift the top dough strip and gently bring it diagonally across the filling. Repeat and continue down the entire braid, alternating strips all the way down. When you get to the bottom, you can fold the last couple that hand off under the end of the braid.
6. Very carefully transfer the dough and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Use plastic wrap and loosely cover to rise for 45 to 50 minutes until it gets puffy again.
7. Preheat the oven to 375°F and brush the loaves with egg wash. Sprinkle with the sparkling sugar and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.