Easter Sourdough, Chocolate, Frangipane and Flame Raisin Sharing Bread!
This wonderful sweet bread is a delicious Easter treat; try it served with coffee, for afternoon tea, or as a dessert. It’s also an excellent way to use-up any left-over Easter Eggs! It isn’t essential, but if you soak your raisins for a couple of days, they will be particularly plump. Although this recipe requires you to make several items, the frangipane and the chocolate sauce, these take just a few minutes to make and can be done well in advance. For more details on the different stages of bread-making please see my book: ‘Sourdough Suppers’.
pm – soak the raisins & make the bread sponge
am – make up the dough, incorporate the butter, make the chocolate sauce and the frangipane, and bulk prove the dough
pm – refrigerate the dough for a couple of hours, make up the bread, start to prove the bread at room temperature then refrigerate overnight
am – bring the bread back to room temperature, finishthe final prove (if necessary) then bake
150g Flame Raisins (or any good quality large organic raisin)
100g Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Maury, Sweet Rancio or Water (reserve the soaking liquid after soaking the raisins)
140g frisky wild yeast/sourdough culture (50:50 Hydration)
55g whole milk (from the fridge), plus a little extra for glazing
1 large eggs
75g strong plain flour (e.g. Shipton Mill’s Organic No 4)
Soak the raisins in the sherry (or alternative) over night and keep the soaking liquid to one side afterwards.
Make up the initial sponge. In a medium-sized bowl mix together the yeast cuture, the milk, the eggs, and the four. Don’t worry about a few lumps. Drape a damp cloth over the bowl and leave it at cool room temperature for 6–12 hours by which time it will be frisky and packed with bubbles.
15g soft brown sugar or honey
4g Maldon sea salt
140g strong plain flour
80g unsalted butter, cubed and stored in the fridge (take it out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you need it)
100g organic almonds with skins on
65g caster sugar
100g butter, soft
1 large organic egg
55g of the soaking liquid after draining the raisins (if you have less then 55g left make the quantity up with water)
100g good quality plain chocolate
To make up the dough, stir the sugar, salt and flour into the bubbling sponge and mix thoroughly until it is a sticky mass of dough. Tip it onto an unfloured work surface and knead for about 1 minute. It should feel tacky at this stage and hold it’s shape; if the dough feels at all dry add a little more milk. I suggest leaving the dough on the firmer side to make it easier to roll out later. Cover the ball of dough with an upturned mixing bowl and leave to rest on the work surface for an hour.
Meanwhile, you can make the chocolate sauce. First drain the raisins over a small bowl. Put the raisins to one side and pour the remaining soaking liquid about 55g (or if less, make the quantity up to 55g with water) into a small pan, add the chocolate and the butter then heat over a very low heat until the chocolate has melted, stir well to combine the ingredients into a thick sauce. Put the sauce to one side.
Now make the frangipane. Grind the almonds with the sugar in a food processor until fine. Add the soft butter and cream until it is pale, light and fluffy. Whilst the food processor is running, add the egg, and mix until just combined. Put the frangipane to one side, at room temperature. If you do this in advance it can be refrigerated, but bring it back to room temperature so that it is soft and spreadable when required.
After an hour, uncover the dough and knead it for 4 minutes; by which time it should be soft but not sticky. Cover the dough and leave it to rest for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, resume kneading for a further 4 minutes, then rest the dough for a further 10 minutes. Meanwhile remove the cubed butter from the fridge.
After 10 minutes check the gluten development by using the window-paning method (see Stages of Bread-making in ‘Sourdough Suppers’ for more information).
Pull the dough into a rectangle, scatter over the cubed butter, roll up the rectangle and start to knead the butter in. If at any time the butter starts to melt, or the dough develops a shredded appearance, or it feels slimy, stop kneading and refrigerate the dough for 20–30 minutes. After chiling resume kneading the dough until the butter is fully incorporated.
At this point stretch out the dough into a rectangle and sprinkle over the drained raisins, roll the dough up and gently knead it just enough to distribute the raisins fairly evenly. Rest the dough for a few minutes, after which it should feel silky, soft and smooth.
Shape the dough into a ball, put it into a clean bowl, and cover it with a damp cloth. Leave the dough to bulk prove at a cool room temperature (if possible 10-16C) until it has doubled in size. This can take anything from around 3 to 5 hours; possibly longer depending on the friskiness of your yeast and the room temperature, but the slower the process the better! Now refrigerate the dough for at least a couple of hours.
If the chocolate sauce has hardened, warm it gently over a low heat until it is drizzle-able.
Remove the dough from the fridge and sprinkle the work surface with a fine layer of flour, then roll the dough out into a rectangle 30cm x 27cm. Lift the dough regularly to check that it isn’t sticking to the work surface; add a little more flour if necessary.
Spread the soft frangipane evenly over the dough, taking it right to all of the edges. Then drizzle over half of the chocolate sauce (keep the rest for later).
Fold one long side of the dough into the middle and repeat with the other long side so that the frangipane and chocolate is completely encased and the join is down the centre. Fold one long half over; like closing a book. Lift the bread onto a parchment-lined baking tray and cover it loosely with a piece of oiled cling film. Leave the bread to increase in volume by about 80%. It can then be baked or refrigerated overnight before baking. If refridgerating, bring the bread back to room temperature before baking.
Preheat the oven: 200C/180°C fan-assisted
Remove the cling film, glaze top of the bread with milk,and then with a serrated knife cut about ½ cm slits deep across the dough at 12 equal intervals. The cuts should not penetrate beyond the first layer of frangipane and chocolate, but be enough to enable easy tearing when cooked.
Spray or sprinkle the top with a fine film of water and cover the bread loosely with a dome of foil (this creates a steam bath, it prevents the bread from browning too quickly, and it is also very helpful if you find yourself needing to bake the bread before it is fully proved!). Place the bread into the preheated oven.
Bake the bread for 15 minutes,then remove foil, and turn the heat down to 180C/160C (for fan assisted) and continue baking until the surface is golden brown; this will take about an additional 25 minutes. If the bread is browning too quickly, put the foil back.
Remove the bread from the oven and place it onto a cooling rack. Leave it to reast and cool for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes drizzle the top of the bread with the remaining chocolate sauce. Now put the coffee on to brew!