I’ve been so excited for Skye McAlpine‘s A Table in Venice cookbook to come out and it finally has and let me tell you that it is well worth the wait. It’s beyond beautiful, and one of the few times where I’ve actually read a cookbook page to page. It feels like I’m there in Venice, and I’ve already learned so much, and I haven’t even finished reading the book. It’s amazing. One of the reasons why I was looking forward to this cookbook is because I’ve been taking an Italian class at my local community college. It’s just for fun, twice a week, and it’s great to not do something involving food or social media or taking photos. I’ve really been enjoying it. This book is feeding into my curiosity of all things Italian.
This breakfast bread called out to me from the book mainly because it’s an excuse to have a sweet chocolate bread first thing in the morning. Also, I’m giving away a copy of this book to one lucky reader! It’s a gorgeous cookbook, and so if you’re feeling adventurous and want to travel to Venice without leaving your house, then you’re definitely going to want to get your hands on it. All you have to do is leave a comment below letting me know what your favorite Italian food or dish is. It doesn’t have to be authentically fancy. It can be something simple from your nearby Italian American restaurant down the street. If you want to let me know why it’s your favorite, by all means please do. I love reading all of your comments and stories. You have until Friday to enter. Only one entry per person, let’s keep things fair. As always, the winner will be picked at random and notified via email. Good luck to everyone!
Let’s start by soaking some raisins with brandy. The longer the raisins sit soaking up the brandy, the more plump and flavorful they’ll become. Set to the side while you prepare the dough.
**Tip: If you don’t have brandy on hand, you can also use apple juice!**
This dough is almost like a rich buttery brioche. I find it a bit more flavorful than just a regular cinnamon roll dough that we’re used to. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in the yeast.
**Note: You can make this dough by hand, but I’m not here for too much work so I just used my stand mixer. For this step I used the paddle attachment, but then I switched it out for the dough hook attachment.**
Warm the milk for about 1 to 2 minutes just until warmed, not hot, and then pour into the flour mixture along with a large egg. Stir until the flour is completely incorporated. Then knead on medium-high speed for about 10 minutes until the dough is soft.
Shape into a bowl and place into a well greased large bowl. Turn over to coat both sides, and then cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot and allow to double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
**Tip: I like placing it over the stove or on top of the fridge since it’s a warm area. You can also turn on the oven for a few minutes, shut it off and then use that as a proofing box so to speak.**
While the dough rises, let’s get the filling together. In a bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar and bread crumbs until it forms a thick paste. Stir in the milk and mix until combined. Stir in the roughly chopped dark chocolate and blanched hazelnuts. Set aside.
Once the dough has doubled, cut off about a third of the dough and roll it out to a circle so that it fits onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Grease the pan really well with butter before placing the dough in.
Then roll out the remaining dough into a large rectangle. Stir in the fresh orange zest and raisins (along with any rum left) into the filling. Sprinkle and spread the filling into a single layer as best you can. Roll, lengthwise, into a log. Trim the ends to make it even and then cut into about 10 even pieces.
Place the pieces, swirly side up, onto the bottom of the pan on top of the dough. Place the dough rounds snuggly into the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot and allow to nearly double in size, about 45 minutes.
Once the bread has nearly doubled in size, brush the top and sides with egg wash. This will give the bread a perfect shine and deep brown color.
Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. You can insert a knife in the center of the bread and if it comes out clean, you’ll know that the bread is done. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly in the pan before removing the sides of the springform.
I love this cake because it’s just slightly sweet. I don’t always have the biggest sweet tooth, but I love when desserts aren’t overly sweet. This breakfast bread is just that. But if you want to, you can totally dust the top with powdered sugar or glaze with a simple vanilla powdered sugar glaze.
**Note: Honestly though, I don’t really think you need it. Although, if you’re like me and love more savory than sweet, then it’s perfect. BUT if you like a bit more sweet, then by all means add the powdered sugar or glaze on top.**
If you want to make this ahead of time, you can prepare it up until the second rise. Cover with plastic and keep in the fridge overnight. Then just let it come to room temperature, glaze and bake as directed in the morning.
This bread is best when eaten warm, from the oven, and on the same day you’ve baked it. I mean, it won’t be the worst thing the next morning, but just keep in mind that it won’t be as soft and/or moist. It’ll dry out the next day, but the good news is that it’s great with a cup of coffee or tea if you’re into that in the morning.
**Note: If you have leftovers, just wrap the bread very well in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out too much! Then you can rewarm in the microwave for a few seconds before eating, if you want to softened it up a bit.**
Don’t forget to leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a copy of this gorgeous cookbook. Just let me know what your favorite Italian food/dish is. You have until Friday to enter. Only one entry per person, let’s keep things fair. Good luck, I’m rooting for you!
- 3¾ cups bread flour
- ⅓ granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 packet (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, softened
- scant 1 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup raisins
- 3 tablespoons brandy
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ light brown sugar
- 1¼ cups plain bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- ½ cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- ½ cup roughly chopped blanched hazelnuts
- 1 medium orange, zested
- 1 large egg, for glaze
- In a small bowl, combine the raisins and brandy and set aside.
- To make the dough, sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast. Add the butter and blend until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Gently warm the milk in a small saucepan for about 1 to 2 minutes, until just above room temperature. The mixture should feel warm but not uncomfortably hot. If the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast and stop the bread from rising properly.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour in the warm milk and add the egg. Stir the dough, bringing in the flour into the well, until incorporated. Head the dough vigorously for 10 minutes or so, until it feels smooth and elastic. Lightly oil or butter a large bowl, shape the dough into a ball, roll it around to coat it with oil, and set it in the bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp tea towel, and place it somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
- While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and bread crumbs together with an electric mixture to form a thick paste. Pour in the milk and beat again until creamy and smooth. Stir in the chocolate and hazelnuts, then cover and set to one side.
- Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter. When the dough has doubled in size, tip it out of the bowl and onto a work surface, and knock the air out of it. Take one-third of the dough and roll it out or stretch it to fit the bottom of your pan; this will form the bottom of the loaf.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the rest of the dough, roll out the rest of the dough into a large rectangle, roughly 12 by 9 inches. Stir the raisins and orange zest into the chocolate and hazelnut filling, and then spread the filling over the dough as evenly as you can right up to the edges. Roll it up from a long side until you have a giant sausage, then use a sharp knife to cut it into 8 to 10 slices, each roughly two to three fingers wide. Arrange the rounds snuggle on top of the dough in the cake pan, swirly side up. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp tea towel, and set somewhere warm to rise until nearly doubled in size again, this time around 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Just before putting the bread in the oven, in a small bowl, whisk the egg for the glaze with a fork and use a pastry brush to lightly glaze the top of the dough.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden on top. If you insert a knife into the bread, it should come out clean and easily. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. It's great warm from the oven, but can also be enjoyed at room temperature. It's best when eaten on the day of baking.