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Breads, Breakfasts

Erez's Double Chocolate Braided Bread

In the midst of the turmoil currently gripping Israel, a well-known Israeli chef called to tell me something very hopeful: A group of his Jewish and Arab-Israeli colleagues were gathering to prepare a joint meal in one of the villages ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes plus 3 hours rising | Serves 6 to 8
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packages dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks

Step 1Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the lukewarm water in the bowl of an electric mixer. Let the mixture sit a few minutes, then add the softened butter and egg yolk and stir with the paddle. Slowly add the flour, salt, remaining sugar and cocoa. Change to the dough hook and knead until the dough becomes uniform.

Step 2Turn the bread onto a floured board, knead the chocolate into the dough and form it into a smooth round. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise until the dough doubles in bulk, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Step 3Punch the dough down, divide in 6 equal parts on a floured board. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Step 4Roll 3 pieces of dough into a sausage about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Line up the 3 pieces side by side and braid, then pinch the ends together. Repeat with the other three. Place the two loaves on a baking sheet sprinkled with flour. Cover with a moist towel and let rise for an hour, until the dough doubles again.

Step 5Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Fill a pan with hot water and place it on the lower shelf of the oven. Bake the breads on the upper shelf for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake until the bread sounds hollow when tapped, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Note: Lechem Erez, run by Erez Komarovsky, is one of the best of the upscale bakery/restaurants that have recently sprung up in Israel. This double chocolate braided bread is a knockout. Instead of using regular chocolate chips, something available only recently in Israel, Erez uses chopped bittersweet chocolate.
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