Chocolate Sticks

I actually baked these last week, but due to building work still going on and ‘paid’ work and time spent with the family, I haven’t found time to type this and several other recipes up.  These ‘buns’ sounded just up my street, chocolate and bread, yum!  The first thing that caught my eye was the photo of these in the book.  That’s one thing I really like about this book is that there is a photo of every recipe, so you know what they should look like!!

Jane’s comment on this recipe is:-

“In my first book there is a description of a bread safari in the Western Cape.  One of the amazing bakeries in that lovely region of the world is De Oude Bank Bakkerij in Stelenbouch.  The bread is fantastic and these chocolate sticks are super fantastic.  I have made the recipe up because I forgot to ask for it and I think the result is close to the real thing”

Well, if the photo didn’t make you want to bake these, Jane’s description certainly should.

Ingredients

Predough

  • 100g warm water
  • 150g plain white flour
  • Pinch of yeast (any kind)

Dough

  • 300g plain white flour
  • 50g sugar
  • ½ tsp instant yeast/1 tsp dry yeast or 4g fresh yeast
  • 200g milk, heated up to boiling point, then cooled to room temperature
  • 5g salt

Filling

  • 50g butter (melted and allowed to cool slightly)
  • 200g chocolate chips or chunks

Glaze

  • 1 egg
  • 1tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar

Oven

230°C (450°F), Gas 8.

The first thing I noticed about this recipe is that you have to make a ‘Predough’, which means you need to start this recipe the day before you want to bake it.

So on Day One you need to mix together the flour, water and pinch of yeast in a bowl until they are well blended.  Cover the bowl with clingfilm (or in my case my trusty shower cap!) and put it to one side on your worktop for 12-48 hours.  The longer you leave it the tastier the sticks will be.

I didn’t actually make the sticks the next day, so my mixture had been standing for around 36 hours by the time I decided to (or rather found time to) make them.

I’m beginning to remember that if I want to bake then the first thing I need to do in the morning when I get up for breakfast is to heat the milk up  whilst I’m making my first cup of tea of the day.  This can then be left to one side and by the time I’ve eaten my breakfast, had a shower and got dressed, the milk will by then be at room temperature, so I’m ready for the next stage.

The next stage is to put the flour for the dough into a large bowl and make a well.  Sprinkle the sugar and yeast into the well and pour in the milk.  Flick the flour over the milk to close the well and put to one side to rest for an hour.  This allows me to take the dog out for his early morning walk.  I’m loving how this baking is fitting in with my routine!

Once back from my dog walk it’s on with the next part.  Into the flour I added the salt and predough I had made the other day.  This was brought together into a ball and then pulled out onto the counter and kneaded well for 10 minutes.  This dough didn’t seem too sticky, so I thought I should be able to cope with kneading this myself.  If the dough’s really sticky,  I put it into my KitchenAid for 5 minutes with the dough hook to get it past the really sticky part, as I seem to end up with it all on my hands instead of the board.  At this point melt your butter, so that it has time to cool whilst you knead the bread.  Once kneaded this dough appeared very soft and silky.

I was surprised to see that the dough wasn’t at this stage to be put back into its bowl and left to rest for a couple of hours.  Instead the work surface had to be lightly floured (make sure it’s a surface on which you can cut) and the dough placed on top and rolled out in a rectangle to a thickness of 5mm.  Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter (about a third – as you will need the rest later) for the filling and cover it with cling film.  Now you can leave it to rest for 2 hours.

photo 2

After 2 hours it’s time for shaping!  Remove the cling film and scatter a third of the chocolate chips/chunks over the surface of the dough.  I used plain chocolate but I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t use milk or white chocolate.  I thought the plain chocolate would complement the sweetness of the bread best (similar to a pain-au-chocolat).  You then fold the left edge of the dough into the middle and fold the right edge in to meet it.  Flour the work surface around the edge of the dough.  At this point I turned the dough through 90° and rolled it out again.  The book doesn’t tell you to do this, but looking at the board I had put the dough on, I thought it would be too wide to fit once it had been rolled out again.  Some more of the butter was brushed over the top and another third of chocolate chips sprinkled over the top.  Fold the dough as above and flour around it again.  Roll the dough out flat once more and brush the remaining butter and sprinkle the remaining chocolate over the top.  After this third roll my dough was extremely big – it had literally filled the board I had put it on and was just falling off the edges!  Fold the dough one more time and lightly flour the top of it and then very carefully flip it over so the flour and folded side is down.  Flour the top and cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 45 minutes.

Time now to preheat the oven.  Whilst the oven is preheating, mix together the ingredients for the glaze and brush it over the top of the dough.  I found the easiest way to cut the dough was using a pizza wheel, although you had to push down quite hard to cut through the chocolate chunks.  Cut strips about 2.5cm wide.  I wasn’t sure whether the strips should be really long or not.  My strips were about 30cm long so I cut some of them in half to make some smaller strips and kept some the full length.  Jane does say if they’re too long cut them in half, so looking at the photo she has in the book, I was pleased to see they had been placed next to a flour shaker, so you could work out roughly what length they should be.  The number you should be able to make depends on how big you make them!

photo 3

Once cut the sticks were placed onto the prepared baking tray (lined with non-stick parchment paper) and put into the oven for 15 minutes.  If there’s one thing I love about baking bread it’s the smell that fills the house and with the smell of melting chocolate too with these, it was heaven!!

After 15 minutes the ‘sticks’ were a lovely golden brown in colour.  They were removed and left to cool on a cooling rack.  Ok, that’s a lie, most were left to cool, but after a couple of minutes I couldn’t resist eating one.  They were absolutely delicious.  The bread was so soft and light and the melting chocolate … well, need I say more, go on give them a try I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

They didn’t stay around for long.  I think there were a few left the next day which were some gobbled down by the family for breakfast.  These are definitely something I’ll be making again – and I must admit that since then I haven’t bought any pain-au-chocolats from the shops as these are so much nicer…

photo 1

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