Nutella Swirl Bread

I famously hate working with dough. First, you’ve got to wait for it to rise, and I usually simply don’t have the patience from that. If I’m baking something I want it in the oven and out and in my mouth within an hour – max. Second, working with dough usually involves rolling it out. My kitchen has limited space, and I desperately wish for an granite-top counter/island where I could peacefully roll out my dough. Sadly, I had to settle for my kitchen table and copious amounts of saran wrap to keep the flour on the surface from getting everywhere! Maybe in the future under different circumstances I’ll fully embrace working with dough. I can’t deny that it produces delicious results! But for now, working with dough is an incredibly rare occasion. I’m glad to say that this nutella swirl bread recipe looked soooo yummy and enticing that I just had to tackle it, covered in flour and all!

So, I have an obsession with bread. Any type of bread, really, but particularly for artisan breads (that soft interior but with the satisfying crunch of crust) – ugh, don’t get me started. Nothing better than a slice of a good italian round (so happy that my local grocery store’s bakery provides excellent bread!) topped with soft butter or nutella. It takes me back to memories of fresh baguettes consumed with nutella in Belgium, when I visited a few years ago (Five? Six? Has it really been that long?) and stayed with a host family. Anyways, the point here is that bread and nutella is a fantastic combination, and what could be better than a loaf of bread with ribbons of nutella baked right in? The bread was flaky and soft, and I was so excited to take out my puffed-up loaf of bread out of the oven since I’d never made it before! The nutella swirls looked gorgeous. The addition of nutmeg to the nutella contributed flavor and it smelled great combined with the scent of freshly baked bread 🙂 However, when I took it out of the oven when the top was golden brown, I noticed the few middle slices were a little under-baked and…doughy. Next time, I would reduce the temperature a couple notches and bake the bread longer to ensure it’s evenly baked! This recipe is super versatile and although I didn’t bake any other versions this time, I don’t doubt it would take well to a cinnamon-sugar and raisin filling, or swirls of your favorite type of jam/preserves. Go crazy!

Nutella Swirl Bread
adapted from Inquiring Chef

1 pack active dry yeast
1/4 c sugar, + 1 pinch
1 1/4 c warmed milk (the recipe calls for whole, but I used skim)
1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 3/4 c all purpose flour

Nutella filling
1/2 c nutella
1/2 tsp nutmeg (the nutmeg was just a tad bit too strong for me, so I might reduce it to 1/4 tsp or just a few sprinkles for a subtle hint of flavor)

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, 1/4 c warmed milk, and pinch of sugar. Stir gently. Let it sit for about 3 minutes.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine the butter, remaining 1 cup of warm milk, and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar on low speed. Add the salt, egg, and vanilla, and continue mixing on low. Finally, add the yeast mixture, and combine well.

With the mixer continuing to run, add 2 3/4 cups of flour to the mixture. After combining for a few minutes, add in 1 more cup of flour and turn the mixer to medium. The dough should come together into a ball with clean sides of the bowl. If this does not happen, gradually add up to 1/4 c more of flour until it does.

Turn the dough out into a lightly oiled large bowl (I used a pot) and cover with a towel. Allow it to rise in a warm place for about 1.5 hours.

After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a large surface dusted with flour. Roll the dough out into a roughly 24″ x 24″ square (mine ended up more of a horizontal rectangular shape, despite my best rolling efforts. The limitations of my scant work space…). In a small bowl, microwave the 1/2 c nutella for about 10 seconds to soften it. Add the nutmeg and mix well. Spread the nutella mixture evenly over the dough.

Starting from the edge of the dough closest to you, roll the dough up jelly-roll style.

Butter or lightly oil (or use baking spray) a 9 x 5″ loaf pan. Place one end of the dough roll in the loaf pan, and fold it over itself to fit in the pan. Tuck the end of the dough under itself so the top of the loaf is smooth. (This is MUCH easier said than done. I was panicking the whole time I was handling my dough because I thought the roll was going to break in half!)

Loosely cover the loaf pan with a towel and allow it to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (*re: my note – I would consider dialing the oven down to 350 degrees and baking for 30 minute intervals each). After the dough has risen, bake it in the oven at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes*. After that, place a foil tent over the loaf and bake it for another 20-25 minutes. Check if the bread is done when the top is golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped.

Transfer the pan to a rack and brush the top with about a tablespoon of melted butter. Allow to cool. Turn it out of the loaf pan, slice up, and serve!

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