Last weekend I went home to visit mom just because I could. After living a minimum of ten hours away from home for the past ten years, it’s nice to be able to hop in the car on a whim and end up there four hours later. I was actually coming down with a cold and I thought I’d seize the opportunity to have someone take care of me, and who better to do that than mom? Usually I end up wallowing in my apartment, surrounded by tissues and lamenting the fact that I am alone in my misery. Not this time.
Since I was showing up in less than ideal condition, I figured I’d bring a consolation prize: White Chocolate Belgian Pearl Sugar bread. I’ve mentioned the wonder that is Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafters before, and despite the fact it is a ten minute walk from my office, I never partake of its delicacies. Mom loves this bread, and when she came for Christmas, they were sold out when we went. To prevent that from happening again, I called ahead to reserve a loaf. Good idea, because the next morning when I picked it up
the next morning before work, it was actually so warm they couldn’t bag it yet and so I walked away with my little cloud of heaven wrapped in tissue paper. I couldn’t wait, so I had a slice for breakfast. Again-HEAVEN IN MY MOUTH.
I figured since I was returning to my favorites, Belgium being one of them, I’d try to create this gloriousness at home. I’m pretty sure that the Bakery’s bread is an original, but Belgium is actually quite famous for raisin bread so I adapted the recipe that I found for that, a bread that’s not as dry and just a flour –water bread, but not as buttery as a brioche. And, having been on a chocolate tour that offers an inside view of the bakery, I knew just how to get the chocolate in the middle. The pearl sugar was a find in Meijer’s international foods’ section. Can I do this…I was about to see.
I noticed when the bread was almost done that the top still looked a bit dry, so I whipped up a simple syrup and brushed that on top of the loaf for the last five minutes and that seemed to make the top glisten appropriately.
The result? Well, not as good as Hendrickx, but good enough that I had to run out the door to go to yoga before I sat on the couch and ate the whole thing. I will say I made these mistakes: I used half and half white whole wheat flour and regular, and I think I should have used all regular. Also, not enough chocolate. I needed to double it. The recipe below incorporates these changes. Thank you Cookstr for providing the backbone for this.
Now that I think about it, I think that the Luxembourg Plum Bread might also be a good base, texture wise. I may have to experiment more…
2 cups flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
½ cup warm milk
2 large egg yolks
2 TB butter, very soft
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
4 ounce white chocolate bar
1/3 cup pearl sugar (or broken up sugar cubes)
Simply Syrup recipe
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1. Place 1½ cups of the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. (Note: My mixer has since recovered from the exhaustion brought on by the Creme Brulee Cake. Thank goodness!)
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the yeast into the milk, then whisk in the yolks. Stir the liquids into the flour.
3. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on lowest speed for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
4. Add the butter, sugar, and salt to the bowl along with the remaining ½ cup of flour and mix on lowest speed until combined. Mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about another 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl and turn the dough over so that the top is buttered. Press plastic wrap against it and allow the dough to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
6. After the dough has risen, scrape it onto a floured work surface. Press the dough into a rectangle and then stretch the dough into a rough rectangle. Add one third of the chocolate to the top edge.
Fold the bread over the chocolate. Add another row of chocolate and fold it again.
Give it one more roll, and one more row of chocolate, three in all. Fold over the other long side and compress to form a tight cylinder. Place the dough in the pan, seam side down. Cover the top with the pearl sugar. Cover with buttered plastic wrap. Allow the loaf to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
7. When the loaf is almost doubled, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
8. When the loaf has completely risen, place in the oven and bake until it is deep golden about 30 minutes.
9. While the loaf is baking, make a the simple syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water over until it boils. About five minutes before the loaf is done, brush the syrup generously over the loaf. Return to the oven for another five minutes.
10. Unmold the loaf to a rack to cool on its side.
11. Try and control yourself.