Russian Friday – Sweet Chocolate Braid

Ah, vacation… We had the best time ever hanging out with the family, riding bikes, enjoying the mountains.  However, I found myself missing the kitchen.  In fact I started having a serious baking withdrawal… Naturally, since we got back, I made 5 sourdough loafs of bread, 2 chocolate cakes, chocolate chip cookies, pitas, and naan… all in less than a week.

The old chocolate cake has been such a huge success, I decided to try a Russian version found in the winter’s Fine Cooking issue.  The potato adds a bit of moisture and keeps the dough fresh for up to 4 days!    Enjoy!

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SWEET RUSSIAN CHOCOLATE BRAID

INGREDIENTS:

Dough

  • 1 ½ cups plus 3 tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 tbs water
  • 1 very small potato, peeled, boiled until tender, and forced through a sieve (to yield ¼ cup)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbs cold unsalted butter

Filling

  • 1 cup Pastry Cream (recipe below)
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, beaten

DIRECTIONS:

Make the dough. In a small bowl, mix 3 tbs of flour and yeast and water.  Let sit for about 10 minutes till foamy.  In a stand mixer combine the remaining ingredients, add the yeast mixture and mix until the dough is smooth for about 8 minutes.  It will be very sticky.  Dump the dough on a floured surface and knead with your hands for a couple minutes adding a little bit of flour to make it firmer. Transfer the dough in a large container, seal with plastic wrap, and rise for about 3 hours.

Make ahead.  Instead of letting the dough rise, you can place it in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 4 days.  Pull it out of the fridge and let it stand for 3-4 hours in room temperature before proceeding to the next step.

Make pastry cream (see recipe below) right after the you mix the dough to give it enough time for cooling down.

Shape the braid. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment.  Roll the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle about 13×16 inches and about 1/8 inch thick.  Apply the chilled pastry cream over the dough and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Roll it into a 16-inch cylinder.  Transfer to the baking sheet.  Cut the cylinder in half lengthwise and arrange both halves parallel to one another with a cut side facing up.  Wrap them around each other starting in the middle, pinching the edges of the braid together. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for another 35-45 minutes.

Bake. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F/175⁰C.  Position the rack in the center of the oven. Brush the beaten egg over the braid. Bake until golden brown for about 40 minutes.  Let cool on a rack for 1 hour before slicing.

As you see on the picture below, we couldn’t wait, so the chocolate is still melting under the knife!Yummm!

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PASTRY CREAM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tbs all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 large egg yolks

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk vanilla, sugar, flour, salt, and egg yolks. Warm up milk just until a skin forms.  Add milk to the mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly.  Transfer back to heat and cook until the mixture is thick and glue (for about 5 minutes) constantly steering it with a wooden spoon.  Place a plastic wrap on top of the cream and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

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37 comments

  1. GreedyFrog says:

    This reminds me of a type of brioche our village baker used to sell when I was growing up. I can’t wait to try it!

  2. flyfishbrat says:

    Anastasia this is going onto my to make list. I can only hope mine will look as beautiful as yours. Great job there, I could smell the yumminess from the photo.

  3. {Main St. Cuisine} says:

    Simply beautiful photo. And you’ve been really busy in the kitchen (love sourdough bread!). I imagine your family and friends have been enjoying every minute of it. I’m so tempted to try this!

  4. Karista says:

    This looks so delicious! What a lovely treat to usher in fall. I know how you feel… I live in Seattle and we only get a month or two of summer. Then back to cooler temps.

  5. df says:

    This looks just so stunning and inviting. I love the sound of your baking frenzy after coming back from your holiday!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Напишите что-нибудь по-русски, пожалуйста! У Вас есть русскоязычные рецепты?

    • Anastasia says:

      Все русские рецепты я перевожу на английский :-) напишите, пожалуйста, если Вас интересует что-то в списке моих рецептов – с удовольствием переведу. А пока, включаю рецепт своего любимого шоколадного хлеба, надеюсь Вам понравится! http://russianmomcooks.com/2012/04/19/chocolatecak/ и нажмите на “Распечатать рецепт”

  7. ali b. says:

    your braid looks outstanding! i am getting ready to put this recipe together myself, having just shoved a small yukon potato through a fine mesh strainer… but i have a quick question about the yeast. i’m not used to proofing instant yeast, which you call for in this recipe. did you use active yeast and proof the yeast as you called for? or could i use instant and add it to the dry ingredients, as i usually would? if so, should i omit the small amount of water you used to proof the yeast? or is there some benefit i don’t know about to proofing the instant yeast??

    thanks for a great recipe!

    • Anastasia says:

      If you are sure in your yeast – it probably wouldn’t make a difference! The only benefit in proofing I see is that you make sure your east is active. But I’m not a professional, so may be I’m missing some other important reasons. Have a good time baking!

  8. viveka says:

    This look good enough to eat, never hear about chocolate braid before – but there is a lot of things I never heard about .. *smile – looking so good. Not a baking person, yeast and I don’t agree .. but this is very tempting.

  9. christinajane says:

    Just about the bake this (potato boiling away) with a little sourdough in the starter, and vanilla bean seeds instead of powder (can’t find that up here). Can’t wait to have it for Saturday afternoon goûter with Jesse!

    • Anastasia says:

      Have fun! And I’m so glad you found something interesting here! I think I made your pitas 20 times already!

      By the way, how is bread making?

      • christinajane says:

        Oh there is plenty interesting here! I love that you enjoy the pitas! They are so versatile huh. The pastry cream for this braid is wonderful. It’s great! We have been enjoying some overnight loaves, like yours, trying out different seed and flour combinations!

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