Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Black and White Sweet Rolls

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved marble pound cake. I loved the swirl as much as I liked the flavor.

When I started thinking about creating a bread with a chocolate swirl, my first inclination was to make a loaf, just like those poundcakes I loved so much. But then I thought that fluffy sweet rolls would show off the swirl even better. And a pull-apart loaf is just plain fun.

The interesting thing about the two doughs in this recipe is the way they feel when you roll them out. The white dough is springy, as you'd expect. The chocolate dough is completely willing to be rolled, almost spongy, with no resistance at all. But they rise equally well, and they are almost identical after baking. Well, with the exception of the color.

If you don't like almond, you can leave out the almond extract, but I think it works well with the chocolate. If you don't like nuts, leave them out. They aren't essential to the recipe, but they add a nice texture. If you have extra nuts, you can sprinkle them on top of the rolls.

As for the icing, it's not necessary, but it looks pretty and people tend to expect that extra jolt of sugar with sweet rolls. I like to add a little vanilla to it so there's something more than just sweetness, but that's your call. If you like a lot of icing, make a double batch.

Black and White Sweet Rolls

For the dough:
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the light half:
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the dark half:
1 tablespoon cold coffee (or water)
1/4 cup cocoa

For the filling:
1/8 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup nuts, chopped

For the icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 - 4 teaspoons of water
almond extract, vanilla, or coffee (optional)

Mix the buttermilk, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer and set aside for 15 minutes until it becomes bubbly.

Add the salt, flour, and egg, and knead until the mixture becomes elastic. Add the butter and vanilla, and continue kneading until the butter and vanilla are fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky.

Remove half of the dough from the mixer bowl and set aside while you work on the remaining half. Add the almond extract to the dough in the bowl and knead until it is completely incorporated.

Move the almond dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until doubled, about 90 minutes.

Put the other half of the dough into the bowl, add the cocoa and the coffee (or water) and knead until the chocolate is completely incorporated. Drizzle with a little oil to coat the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise along with the first dough, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. If you want the extra insurance, spray a baking pan with baking spray. I used a 9-inch square pan.

When the doughs have risen, flour your work surface and roll out the almond dough to a rectangle about 10 x 12 inches. Spread the 4 tablespoons of softened butter on the dough, then sprinkle with the 1/8 cup of sugar.

Next, roll out the chocolate dough to the same size, and arrange it on top of the almond dough. Sprinkle with with chopped nuts, leaving about 2 inches bare on the long side. Roll the dough again with your rolling pin to press the nuts into the dough and to adhere the two layers. Roll so that you're increasing the length to about 16 inches.

Roll up the dough, jellyroll-style starting on the long side, rolling towards the portion you left free of nuts so that you have a log that's 16 inches long. Pinch to seal the seam.

Cut the log into 16 pieces, about 1 inch high, and place them in your baking pan. If you've used square pan, you'll have four rows of four.

Note: I wanted smaller rolls, but you can make them larger, if you prefer. Nine rolls would fit nicely in a square pan.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside to rise, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes, until nicely browned. About 10 minutes before you're done, you can brush the tops of the buns with some melted butter for a softer crust.

Mix the powdered sugar with enough water to make it pourable. If you like, add some almond extract, vanilla, or coffee for a little more flavor.

Remove the buns from the pan and set on a rack. Let cool slightly, then drizzle with the icing.

This was published on Serious Eats and has been submitted to Yeastspotting.


Anonymous said...

i just "discovered" your blog - what delicious looking rolls. but i'm not a big fan of chocolate in sweet rolls - any thoughts on making the other flavor/color orange or something along those lines. though even w/ orange peel you aren't going to get the contrast in color .....

jacquieastemborski AT comcast DOT net

Donna Currie said...

Thanks for the comment, Jacquie -

You wouldn't get such a dramatic difference in color, but using brown sugar instead of white would give you some difference. Then add whatever flavoring you want. Whole wheat flour would also add to the dark color, and make them slightly healthier as well.

Or you could do what the commercial bakeries do, and add caramel coloring. I'm pretty sure they sell it at King Arthur Flour. I think it's just a deeply caramelized sugar, so it's not too "unnatural."

If you want to go with orange flavor, saffron makes dough a very pretty yellow. You wouldn't see it so much in the crust, but you'd see it when you cut into it. And saffron should pair well with orange, as long as you don't overdo it. A little goes a long way.

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