When a neighbor of ours went in for some major foot surgery – surgery that would leave him house-bound for quite a while – Kel and I thought it would be nice to drop off something comforting to help with his convalescence. I occasionally send a fresh loaf of whole grain bread this neighbor’s way – the man appreciates a good loaf of bread – but this time I wanted something a little extra special to help with the healing process.
I’m a firm believer in the healing powers of chocolate, the comforting qualities of the smell of cinnamon and the health benefits of fresh- and home-baked bread. Together those qualities must offer unbeatable rehabilitative properties, right?. And since I was going to the effort anyway, I doubled the recipe so that Kel and I could comfort ourselves, too. Thank goodness neither one of us required surgery.
Makes 2 loaves
1 tsp. agave nectar
2 packages dry yeast
1 1/2 cups soy or almond milk, warmed
6 tbsp. maple sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. egg replacer + 3 tbsp. water (whisk together until frothy, then set aside)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour
3 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
8 tbsp. vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup maple sugar
1 tsp. powdered stevia
6 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz. semi-sweet vegan chocolate, finely chopped (chocolate chips work, too)
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and agave in the warm soy milk and let sit for about 5 minutes. Stir in the maple sugar, vanilla extract, salt and egg replacer mixture. Add the bread flour and about 2 cups of the whole wheat flour and stir until well-blended. Add the butter and stir again. You’ll have a very sticky dough.
Now’s the time to knead the dough. Lightly flour the counter and knead, adding whole wheat flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking too badly to your hands. You should have a soft, slightly sticky dough by the time you’re done (8-10 minutes). Place dough in a large bowl that’s been lightly sprayed with oil. Cover and let rise for an hour and a half, or until doubled in size. Punch dough down and let rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Line the bottom of two 9″x5″ loaf pans with parchment and lightly spritz the sides of the pan with cooking oil.
Divide the dough in two and starting with one piece (keep the other piece covered), roll it out to a 16″ square. Sprinkle filling over the dough, leaving a 1/4″ border. Roll up the dough just as you would for cinnamon rolls. Pinch the ends to seal. Holding the roll by the ends, gently twist the dough as if wringing out a towel. Fit the dough into the pan. I formed mine into a u-shape to get it into the pan. It looks funky, but comes out beautifully as it rises and bakes. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Cover both pans with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise for about 45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350F.
Bake the loaves for about 40 minutes or until nicely browned. The bottom should sound hollow when tapped. Cool the loaves in the pans for about 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on wire racks.