If you've perused through enough of my posts and recipes, you may have noticed my slight obsession with the creation of stripes, swirls and spirals in my edibles. As well as a borderline addiction to pinks and purples :-). As idiosyncratic as it sounds, these are the things make me happy...my brain probably swims in a pink and purple sea of swirls and stripes on a daily basis. Imagine that. I like to think that I'm quite normal; each to his own, wouldn't you say?
Well, you may be relieved to know that today there is not an ounce of bright color in my recipe. In fact I've decided to go for neutrals and earthy (is that a color?). Ah, but wait...there are stripes and there are swirls, because I've gone and made something called a "stripe" bread. I thought it was about time to contribute something to Susan's Yeastspotting again, so this post is linked there too.
Nutella and peanut butter filling.
The stripes that make up the bread are actually layers of filling, in this case nutella and peanut butter, an irresistible combo to anyone but those poor souls who, for whatever reasons, wish to always watch their weight. I suppose you could just spread the filling on top of the bread dough, but what I did was to spread the nutella and peanut butter mixture in the shape of a rectangular sheet, freeze it for about 30 minutes and once the sheet was firm, place it on top of the dough. I think it just makes the dough easier to roll flat, without the filling seeping out as you manipulate the dough.
There are a number of folding and rolling steps involved (see Method below for pictorial). Very good for letting off some steam if you've had a bad day. On a good day, it's just lovely to feel something this soft and pliable in between your fingers. I am referring to the dough, you're still with me, right?
There's also braiding involved and let me tell you this, I suck at it! Even when I try to braid my own hair, the end result always looks like bits of straw trying to escape from the messy bundles on either side of my nape. So this is a four-braided bread...(cue incredulous laughter), and sadly I can't even describe to you in the instructions below how I managed to do it at all.
Anyway, the stripes are visible on the outside while the swirls are apparent when you slice into the bread. Of course, when it's still warm, the decadent filling will be soft and fluid so if you want the swirls to be more prominent, wait until the bread cools down fully before you cut into it. But who in their right mind can wait that long? As you can see, I couldn't!
Instead of a ending with a song today, I'd like to share with you one of the TED talks that I really enjoy. I'm in danger of sacrificing my cool factor here by admitting that I'm also a nerd. There, I said it. I listen to TED talks (there are 900+) as much as I surf your blogs because I so enjoy learning from other people's experiences in their different fields of expertise.
This particular talk titled "Taking Imagination Seriously" is by Janet Echelman, a sweet woman who builds larger-than-life, fluid sculptures in cities all over the world. She's truly inspiring because in situations where most people would have quit, she soldiers on and finds innovative solutions to produce the most jaw-dropping pieces of art that comes from the very heart of her being. Listen to her and be inspired.
(PS. If you have streaming issues, download the video to the lowest resolution video option. There are also translation options!)
Nutella and Peanut Butter Stripe Bread
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Nutella-Peanut Butter Filling
2 tablespoons nutella
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1. For the dough, dissolve yeast in warm milk, add sugar, vanilla and butter. Combine flour and liquid and knead with your fingers until a soft dough forms. Add more milk or flour as necessary to achieve a pliable, non-stick dough. Place dough in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
2. For the filling, place the nutella and peanut butter in a heatproof bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute, stir to mix it and spread into a rectangle shape (10 x 4 in) on a piece of parchment paper or silpat. Place in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.
3. Roll out the bread dough into a rectangle (16 x 12 in) on a lightly floured work surface. Peel the sheet of filling and quickly place on the middle part of the dough. Wrap both ends of the dough over to cover the filling completely and seal the edges tightly by pinching.
4. Roll dough flat starting from the center and going outwards to the edges to form a rectangle. Do this gently to prevent the filling from oozing out. Fold the dough into three folds. Roll dough flat from center to the edges to form a rectangle again. If you want to create more stripes, repeat this step twice. Roll, fold and roll.
5. Make three cuts in the middle (length wise), leaving one end uncut. Twist and plait the four strips of dough over each other.
6. Place plaited dough in greased loaf pan, tucking the ends underneath the loaf. Cover with a kitchen cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C /350°F.
7. Bake stripe bread for 30 minutes or until it's golden brown on top. Remove from oven and take the bread out of the mold. Let the loaf cool on a wire rack. Wait until the bread is completely cold before slicing.