Chocolate loves vanilla, especially in this sweet bread! Sweet, vanilla-infused whole grain sweet dough with a generous helping of chopped chocolate kneaded into tender loaves.
This may come as a shock to most of you, but when our family was first diagnosed with severe nut allergies, I went through a panic phase induced by extensive reading of labels and seeing everything as a potential threat to the well being of my family. It was during that time that I decided–much to the chagrin of Bacon Slayer and Son #1–to eliminate all white flour, white sugars, and even most fats like (gasp!) butter from our diets.
Yes, me! Real butter advocate. Lover of all things pie.
So I began baking all of my own bread. I did the silly applesauce-for-fats substitution in my other baking. Bacon Slayer began to rely on Starbucks for coffee and lemon loaf because I didn’t have any granulated sugar in the house. It was right about the time that my mom stepped up and said, “Geez Louise, Kirsten! What are you going to do next? Grow your own wheat?”
You know what I discovered? Baking in an ingredient desert yields baked goods that are about as enjoyable to eat as cardboard on a good day. Dirt covered cardboard, on a bad day. Why? The answer for us is simple. Our bodies need a balance of foods to stay healthy. We need good fats like butter. Whole grain baked goods need a little all purpose flour to give them an enjoyable texture and mouth feel. Completely cutting out sugar made everyone feel cranky and deprived. I knew that if I kept at that rate, I would be baking nightmares instead of memories with my family.
It was the worst three weeks of our collective lives, I tell ya!
All was not totally lost, because it was during this brief foray into (self proclaimed) absurdity that I picked up a copy of King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking Book.
The book is full of recipes for whole grain baking that are delicious and balanced, including chocolate loves vanilla bread.
Son #2 took an immediate shine to their Chocolate Loves Vanilla Bread. We’ve been making it together for years. I’m all for anything that gets my reserved child excited to be in the kitchen. Chocolate motivates him.
When we made these loaves, the conversation went a little something like this:
Son #2: “Mom? Can I help you knead the bread?”
Me: “Sure buddy! Come on over. I’d love your help.”
Son #4 (interjects): “Okay…but jus’ so you know, I’m mom’s OFFICIAL helper!”
Many little hands have helped me slightly tweak the recipe over time so that we find it to be an absolutely perfect balance of texture and flavors while still maintaining the whole grain integrity. Son #2 prefers to enjoy a slice as soon as it’s possible to do so without singeing taste buds off his tongue. He suggests using the remainder of the bread to make “the best french toast in the whole entire world.”
That Son#2…he knows a good thing when he tastes it!
Chocolate Loves Vanilla Bread is definitely a very good thing!
Sweet, vanilla-infused whole grain sweet dough with a generous helping of chopped chocolate kneaded into tender loaves. It’s the perfect balance of soft and sweet with hearty whole grains.
Yields 2 loaves
Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking Book - Sweet, vanilla-infused whole grain sweet dough with a generous helping of chopped chocolate kneaded into tender loaves.
4 hrPrep Time
50 minCook Time
4 hr, 50 Total Time
- 18 ounces (2 1/4 cups) warm milk (110 degrees F)
- 1 Tbs. + 2 tsp. instant yeast (about 2 1/4 packages)
- 4 C. whole wheat flour
- 3 C. all-purpose flour
- ½ C. packed light brown sugar
- 2 tsp. instant espresso powder
- 2 ½ tsp. salt
- ½ C. unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. vanilla bean caviar (scraped from 1 whole vanilla bean)
- 2 eggs
- 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips, finely chopped
- 1 ½ Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
- ½ tsp. vanilla bean caviar (scraped from ½ whole vanilla bean)
- Warm the milk in a 4 cup liquid measuring cup to 100 degrees F. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk, and let stand for a few minutes while starting the dough to give the yeast time to “bloom.”
- Combine the flours with the brown sugar, instant espresso powder, and salt in a large bowl of a stand mixer that is fitted with a dough hook attachment. (Or whisk together by hand in a large bowl.) Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture. With the mixer running on low speed, work the butter into the flour mixture until butter appears crumbly. (To do this by hand, work the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until crumbly.)
- While the mixer is still running, add the vanilla extract and vanilla bean caviar. Gradually pour the yeast and milk mixture into the bowl, stirring until incorporated. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, until each are thoroughly incorporated into the dough. Dough will be soft.
- Knead the dough on Speed 2 of a stand mixer for 5 minutes or until dough smooth and elastic. (Or need by hand for 7-10 minutes to achieve the same result.) Cover bowl with a clean towel and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk; about 90 to 120 minutes.
- While the dough is rising, lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans and set them aside.
- Once doubled, gently press into the dough to deflate. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the chocolate into the dough to distribute. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a smooth ball. Place one ball of dough into each of the prepared pans. Gently flatten each ball to meet the interior of the interior edges of the pan. Cover the pans first with lightly greased plastic wrap, and then with the clean towel. Let the dough stand covered until it rises just over the lip of the pans; about an additional 90 to 120 minutes.
- Once the dough has risen the second time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the bread for 30 minutes. Lightly tent the bread with aluminum foil to keep it from becoming overly brown. Bake the bread for an additional 25 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped and the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F.
- Remove the bread from the oven. Combine the melted butter with the vanilla bean caviar. Brush the vanilla butter over top of each bread round. Let the bread cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Afterward, carefully turn the bread out onto wire racks to cool completely.
- Serve lightly toasted with butter. Chocolate Loves Vanilla Bread also makes lovely French toast.
The texture of the bread is best if allowed to cool completely before slicing to serve. If the aroma of the bread makes it difficult to wait, bread may be sliced after it cools outside of the pans for 30 minutes. If slicing the bread prior to it being fully cooled, the bread round should be consumed that day. Leftover bread may be stored in a paper bag at room temperature for up to three days. To preserve freshness in hot and humid climates, leftover bread should be refrigerated in a plastic bag.
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