Sometimes I see something that looks like it will be hard, but I just want to make it because I want to see if I can. Some of the things I've made that would fall under this heading would be tortillas (I can't--4 different recipes--please don't tell me how easy they are because I won't believe you), this beef wrapped in a pastry that was like a Julia Child recipe (that was pretty good, though it took me all afternoon and I haven't made it again), and homemade barbecue sauce (too watery), just to name a few. This recipe is from the Southern Living Christmas cookbook my mother in law sent me. It has an amaretto glaze that goes over it, but I opted not to make the glaze, because I think the bread sounds (and looks in the picture) like it would be good toasting bread.
Chocolate Swirl Loaves
6 3/4 to 7 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided (I hate ranges. I used 7 cups. I had 3 cups of bread flour left so I used that plus 4 cups of white all purpose)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 pkg active dry yeast (this equals 4 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 (1 oz) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl (of a Kitchen Aid, if you have one); stir well. Combine milk and butter in a saucepan, heat until butter is melted, stirring occasionally. Cool to 120 to 130 degrees.
Gradually add liquid to flour mixture, beating at low speed of an electric mixer until blended. Beat an additional 5 minutes at medium speed (I read you should halve mixing times if using a Kitchen Aid vs hand held or other mixer, so I did 3 minutes). Add eggs; beat well. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Divide dough in half; set 1 portion aside. Turn one portion of dough out onto a lightly floured surface; sprinkle with cinnamon, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes)(mine seemed to be smooth and elastic after like 2 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl and turn to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (top of the dryer), free from drafts (I question if such a place exists in this old house), 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Turn remaining portion of dough out onto a lightly floured surface; pour melted chocolate over dough and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and chocolate is incorporated (possibly the messiest non-nursing thing I have ever done). Place in well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Punch each portion of dough down, and divide each portion in half. Roll 1 portion of chocolate dough and 1 portion of plain dough into 15x9 inch rectangles. Position chocolate rectangle on top of plain rectangle. Roll up, starting at short side, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch ends to seal. Place dough, seam side down, in a well greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Repeat procedure with remaining portions of chocolate and plain doughs.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Cover with foil if necessary during last 20 minutes of bake time to prevent excessive browning. Remove from pans immediately; transfer to wire racks.
I got a callous rolling out the dough. I just have a dinky hand held dough roller. When I told my husband I got a callous, he asked if I also got a Machias. Get it? Smarty pants. So, this was pretty hard. But they came out looking great. Not quite as many swirls as in the pictured example, but still pretty swirly. My chocolate never got completely incorporated, and my hands were starting to hurt, so my layers also aren't delineated as well as theirs were. But all in all, it came out like I thought it would. Though I don't know if I will do this again...
Update: The picture on the left is (probably obviously) from the cookbook, and the one on the right is my bread. Also, at the suggestion of one of my awesome blog readers, we had this for french toast for supper. The bread was 2 days old, and it was perfect french toasting bread. You know how some bread gets really soggy and gross when you try to use it for french toast? Well, this one did not. Used 7 farm fresh eggs from my friend Lisa, 1/2 cup of half and half, a generous sprinkling of cinnamon, and almost the whole loaf of bread (minus two pieces that I toasted at work last night...). Mmmmmm great supper. Thank you for the idea Karen!