Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns #Chocolateparty

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns #chocolateparty by Bakewell Junction

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns #chocolateparty by Bakewell Junction

Easter has come and gone but I think Hot Cross Buns are a great treat any time of year.  This is the second time I made this recipe and I made some changes this time because the first time they didn’t turn out so well (at least to my definition of well).  This doesn’t mean that no one liked the first batch – to the contrary, my husband’s co-workers couldn’t get enough of them.  They just weren’t like Hot Cross Buns, they were more like a thick, dense cookie bar.

On to the success story…  My second attempt worked out wonderfully.  The buns turned out fluffy, light and delicious.  How did this happen (you might ask)?  There are three reasons:

  1. I’ve changed how I get my breads to rise.  I still put the dough in the oven but I don’t warm it by turning it on, I just add a pot of boiling water to warm the oven and turn the light on to ensure the temperature stays warm enough.
  2. I changed the amount of the chocolate chips and the timing of when to add them to the dough.
  3. Instead of using milk, I used buttermilk.

The chocolate party is a linky party hosted by Roxana’s Home Baking and has a different theme every month.  As it turns out, the #chocolateparty theme for April pairs buttermilk and chocolate which is great considering the modifications I made to this recipe.  The only thing I would change the next time I make this recipe is to use milk chocolate chips with a rough chop (just because they’re larger than the semi-sweet chips).  I like the flavor of milk chocolate better in some recipes.  Would you keep the semi-sweet chips or change to  milk chocolate?

chocolate party logoEnjoy!

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

Yield:  15 or 16 Buns                  Cook Time:  20 minutes

Dough:

  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, warmed to 110 degrees
  • 1 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 4 1/2 cups flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted melted butter plus additional for greasing the bowl and baking pan (or you can use cooking spray instead of additional butter)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or substitute milk chocolate chips chopped in half or quarters)

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot water

Crosses:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water

Directions:

Step 1:  Warm milk in the microwave to 110 degrees.  One minute and 25 seconds works in my glass 2 cup measure.  I used my candy thermometer to check the temperature.  If you are transferring to a small bowl, warm the bowl so the milk doesn’t cool.  Add the sugar and yeast to the milk and stir to combine.  Set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes.  I used the boiling water in the oven method for this step too.  The mixture should grow and become foamy.

Step 2:  In a large mixing bowl of your electric mixer, stir together flour and salt.  In the center of the flour form a well.  Add the butter, egg and yeast into the well.  Mix the ingredients and slowly incorporate more and more flour until the flour is completely incorporated and a dough is formed.  Using a dough hook on your electric mixer, knead the dough for approximately five minutes.  The dough should now be smooth and elastic.  If necessary, you may add a little more flour.

Step 3:  Prepare a large bowl by greasing it with butter or cooking spray.  Transfer the dough into the bowl and turn it so the entire dough becomes greased.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour (I used the boiling water in the oven method here too).   After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size.

Step 4:  On a clean work surface, lightly sprinkle some flour.  Place the dough on the floured surface.  Deflate the dough.  Add the chocolate chips.  Incorporate the chips by kneading the dough.  Using a bench scraper or a sharp knife cut the dough into 15 or 16 evenly sized dough balls.  If you’re using a 9 by 13 inch pan, you may want make 3 by 5 rows of buns or your pan may fit 4 by 4 rows of buns.  Let this determine whether you should make 15 or 16 buns, otherwise you could wind up with a few oddly shaped buns.  Place the buns in a greased or parchment lined baking pan.  The buns should be set closely together in the pan.  Cover the buns and let them rise for 20 minutes (since I have a double oven, I used the boiling water in the oven method here too).

Step 5:  In a 400 degree preheated oven, bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes.  The buns will be golden brown and smell delicious.

Step 6:  Glaze:  While the buns are baking, combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons of hot water in a small bowl.  Mix until the sugar dissolves.  If necessary, additional hot water in small increments but do not exceed a total of 3 tablespoons (i.e. the original 2 tablespoons plus up to an additional 1 tablespoon).

Step 7:  After the buns are finished baking, take them out of the oven.  Using a pastry brush, coat the buns with all the glaze immediately after removing them from the oven.  Move the buns to a wire rack and let them cool in the pan.

Step 8:  Crosses:  In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk (or water) to create the icing mixture.  You may add up to 1 additional tablespoon of milk to get to the a piping consistency.  Fill a piping bag with the icing and pipe crosses on the buns.  Alternatively you can fill the corner of a plastic ziploc bag, and snip 1/4 inch opening in end to pipe the crosses.  Many like these buns served warm but I thought they were delicious at room temperature.

Storing:  Store buns in a sealed plastic container or covered with plastic wrap for a few days.

Tips:  If your house is chilly like mine always is and your dough doesn’t rise, you can boil a pot of water while preparing the dough and place the water and dough in a cold oven.  The boiling water will create a warm moist environment in the oven for the dough to rise well.

Enjoy!!!

Recipe from Seeded At The Table, originally from Butter Baking.

This post may also be entered in the following linky party. Click the button below to see the other great posts in the blog hop.

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Chocolate Babka #TwelveLoaves March

Chocolate Babka #TwelveLoaves March | Bakewell Junction
Chocolate Babka #TwelveLoaves March | Bakewell Junction

Mmmm….  Look at those chocolate swirls.

Chocolate Babka #TwelveLoaves March 2 | Bakewell Junction
Chocolate Babka #TwelveLoaves March 2 | Bakewell Junction

Chocolate Babka is one of those things that I’ve wanted to try baking for several years.  I had printed a copy of the recipe I had seen on Smitten Kitchen and had it with all my other recipes (this was long before Pinterest became popular).  Thinking this would be a great recipe for #TwelveLoaves March which is featuring Holiday Breads, I decided to make it.

Babka in Polish means Grandmother and was traditionally made for Easter.  It was also a tradition in Lithuania, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine and Western Russia.  Another version of Babka (Chocolate Babka) is associated with Eastern European Jews.  The history behind Babka is a little confusing.  From what I’ve read on the internet, it’s debated as to who started the Babka tradition but it’s usually made around Easter.

This recipe contains a ton of butter and a ton of chocolate.  It is decadent, delicious and smells heavenly.  I would highly recommend breaking the Lenten fast with this sweet bread.  Although it takes a while to make this recipe, I had great results – my dough rose well and it was easy to roll out.  I did have one mishap because I don’t have three of the 9 by 5 loaf pans, so my attempt to put two of the loaves side by side in a half aluminum tray didn’t work out so well.  They were very dense and gooey in the middle but that didn’t alter the taste and they were devoured quickly anyway.  The only thing I would change for next time it to double the crumb topping recipe – you can never have too many crumbs.

Have you ever had Babka?  Which type do you prefer – chocolate filling, cinnamon filling, raisins, etc?

If you’re interested in additional Easter recipes that I make, try my Easter Bread or Prosciutto Bread (Lard Bread) recipes.  They’re delicious too.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Babka

Yield:  3 Loaves                  Cook Time:  70 minutes

Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk, warmed to 110 degrees
  • 2 1/4 ounce packages active dry yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus a another pinch
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 6 cups flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature plus additional for bowl and loaf pans (or you can use cooking spray instead of additional butter)

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Filling:

  • 2 1/4 pounds very finely chopped semisweet chocolate (I substituted a combination of Hershey’s and Lindt’s milk chocolate candy)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

Directions:

Step 1:  Warm milk in the microwave to 110 degrees.  One minute and 25 seconds works in my glass 2 cup measure.  I used my candy thermometer to check the temperature.  If you are transferring to a small bowl, warm the bowl so the milk doesn’t cool.  Add the pinch of sugar and yeast to the milk and give a quick stir.  Set aside for about 5 minutes.  The mixture should become foamy.

Step 2:  Stir together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs and yolks in a medium bowl.  Combine yeast and egg mixtures and mix thoroughly.

Step 3:  Add the flour and salt to the bowl of an electric mixer and give a quick stir.  Add the wet mixture to the flour and beat on low with the paddle attachment for about 30 seconds to combine.  Swap out the paddle attachment for the dough hook.  Cut 2 sticks of butter into 1 inch pieces and add to the dough.  Beat with the dough hook until butter is combined.  This will take approximately 10 minutes.  The dough will be soft and barely sticky.

Step 4:  On a clean work surface, lightly sprinkle some flour.  Place the dough on the floured surface.  You may need to scrape the bowl and dough hook to get every last bit of the wonderful dough.  Knead a minute or two.  Prepare a large bowl by buttering it or spraying with cooking spray.  Transfer dough to prepared bowl and turn to coat butter/cooking spray.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let dough rise in a warm spot for 1 hour to double in size.  My house is always cool so, while I prepare the dough, I boil a pot of water and place it in my oven along with the dough.  This creates a great environment for the dough to rise.

Step 5:  Filling:  Mix the chocolate, 1 cup sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Cut in 1 1/2 sticks of butter using a pastry cutter until you have a homogeneous mixture.

Step 6:  Egg wash:  In a small bowl, beat egg and heavy cream together.

Step 7:  Butter the loaf pans or spray with cooking spray then line with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and wait for 5 minutes before cutting into thirds.  Cover resting dough while working with the first piece of dough.  Flour the work area.  Roll the first piece of dough until it’s about 1/8 inch thick.  It should be about 16 by 16 inch square.

Step 8:  Using the egg wash, moisten the edges of the rolled dough.  Evenly crumble 1/3 (about 2 1/2 cups) of the chocolate mixture minus 2 tablespoons on rolled dough up to about 1/4 from the edge of the dough.  Beginning at one side of the dough, roll the dough up until you reach the opposite side.  Pinch the dough together to seal the edges.  The dough needs to be twisted along it’s length 5 or 6 times.  Moisten the top of the rolled dough with the egg wash.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the chocolate mixture on half the roll and press into the dough.  Fold the side of the dough roll without the chocolate mixture onto the side with the chocolate mixture.  Seal edges by pinching.  Twist the roll twice and place in loaf pan.  Repeat  rolling dough through placing in loaf pan for each of the other doughs.

Step 9: Streusel Topping:  Add powdered sugar, flour and butter in a large bowl.  Mix to combine and create small to large crumbs.

Step 10:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let doughs rise for 20 to 30 minutes in a warm spot.  Moisten the tops of the loaves with the egg wash.  Sprinkle the top of each loaf with 1/3 of the streusel.

Step 11:  Place loaves in preheated oven and bake 55 minutes until golden, rotating loaves midway during baking.  Lower temperature to 325 degrees and bake another 15 to 20 minutes until loaves are darker golden.  Cool completely on wire racks.  Depan loaves and try not to eat an entire loaf.

Storing:  Store loaves in a sealed plastic container or covered with plastic wrap.

Tips:

  • To finely chop the chocolate easily, break it up into inch size pieces initially.  In small batches, use a food processor or mini chopper to chop it finely.
  • The dough can be frozen for 1 month after preparing up to the point where they are ready to be placed in the oven.  Remove the dough from the freezer and wait 5 hours before baking.
  • If your house is chilly like mine always is and your dough doesn’t rise, you can boil a pot of water while preparing the dough and place the water and dough in a cold oven.  The boiling water will create a warm moist environment in the oven for the dough to rise well.

Enjoy!!!

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Martha Stewart.

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What is baking this March in the TwelveLoaves kitchens? Holiday Breads!

#TwelveLoaves March:  Holiday Bread.  Bake a bread, yeast or quick bread, loaf or individual.  This #TwelveLoaves is all about the incredible holiday breads featured in March.  Do you have a favorite Easter or St. Patrick’s Day Bread?  We would love to see it.  Let’s get baking!

Look at what our very talented #TwelveLoaves bakers have created this March!

We would love to have you join our #TwelveLoaves group; it’s easy!
1.  When you post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your blog post; this helps us to get more members as well as share everyone’s posts.  Please make sure that your Bread is inspired by the theme!
2.  Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of Lora’s blog (Cake Duchess) or the link below.  It must be a bread baked to the Twelve Loaves theme.
3.  Have your Twelve Loaves bread that you baked this March, 2013 posted on your blog by March 31, 2013.

You are next… Click here to enter

Follow @TwelveLoaves on Twitter

See what’s freshly baked for #TwelveLoaves on the growing Pinterest board.

This post may also be entered in the following linky party. Click the button below to see the other great posts in the blog hop.

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Spatulas On Parade

Prosciutto Bread (aka Lard Bread)

There’s a bread that can be found at most Italian deli’s in New York City – it  used to be called Lard Bread but it’s been referred to more recently as Prosciutto Bread.  It’s an unbelievably delicious bread and I’ve always wanted to make a homemade version of it.  Some of my research stated that the bread is usually prepared for Easter but I don’t recall that being the case.  What I do recall is thinking that there should be more prosciutto and less black pepper.  By baking the bread myself, I can change it to my taste.

When I’m having antipasto, I normally like to buy Parma Prosciutto (which tastes out of this world) but when you’re cooking with it, there’s no need to use the most expensive one.

For Mother’s Day, I tried two different Prosciutto Bread recipes and my family absolutely loved this one.  I had to hide some of the remaining loaf, so I would have some for the pictures in this post.

Enjoy.

After kneading the dough needs to rest.

Ready for the oven.

Hot out of the oven.

Take a bite after tearing the bread into a nice big hunk.

Prosciutto Bread

Yield:  1 loaf                Cook Time:  30 – 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 plus 3 tbsp cups bread flour, divided
  • 1 tbsp. malt powder (or 1 tbsp sugar)
  • 3/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper (I used regular grind pepper and a scant 1/2 tsp)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water (70F -90F)
  • 8 oz. Prosciutto, 1/8″ thick, cut into 1/4-inch dice (no need to use Parma Prosciutto for this bread and you can substitute salami, sweet capicolo or pancetta or, if you don’t like the meats, you can try cheese but you should probably use half the amount)
  • 4 tsp. bacon fat, lard, or butter, melted

Directions:

Step 1:  Mix 2 cups flour, malt powder and yeast in a stand mixer.  Combine salt with flour mixture – this is done separately from the first mixing so the salt doesn’t retard the action of the yeast.

Step 2:  Add water to mixing bowl and mix with flour with dough hook on low to moisten.  Knead for seven minutes on medium speed.  Mix in prosciutto on low speed.  Dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky.  If dough is too sticky knead in more flour a little at a time.  If the dough is too dry, spray with a bit of water and knead.

Step 3:  Shape dough into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface.  Sprinkle dough with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

Step 4:  Roll dough into an 18” cylinder and form into a ring.  Ensure the ends stick together and place on parchment paper on a large cookie sheet.  Spray dough with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled for about 1 hour.  I usually heat my oven to the lowest setting and then shut it off before placing dough into it to allow it to rise.  Also, I like to let the last rise happen overnight but I didn’t have time for that this time.

Step 5:  Use a pizza stone or baking sheet on a low shelf of the oven and place a baking sheet on the lowest shelf of the oven (or on the bottom of the oven if your heating element isn’t on the bottom of the oven).  Preheat oven to 450 degrees for at least 10 minutes.

Step 6:  Transfer bread to pizza stone or baking sheet in the preheated oven and brush with about 1/3 of melted butter.  Add about half to a dozen ice cubes into the baking sheet on lowest shelf of the oven.

Step 7:  Bake 15 minutes.  Remove parchment paper and turn bread front to back to allow for even baking.  Brush bread with about another 1/3 of melted butter.  Add another dozen ice cubes.  Bake another 5 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 400 degrees.  Bake another 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 8:  Turn off oven and leave bread in the oven with door propped open for another 5 minutes.

Step 9:  Remove bread from oven and brush with the remaining butter.  Allow to cool but if you aren’t having company or bringing this bread to a function, this bread tastes delicious slightly warm and crispy.

Enjoy!!!

Recipe adapted from Seriously Good (originally from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible).

Easter Bread

My family has come to expect me to bake Easter Bread for Easter Sunday.  I’ve used this recipe for the past few years and my family really loves it.

A few years ago I was looking for an Easter Bread recipe to remind me of the bread my Grandmother used to make every Easter.  Although my Grandmother’s recipe was delicious, we no longer have the recipe and the bread was a little dry and heavy.  I searched the internet and I wanted a recipe that produced bread that was moister, lighter and sweeter than the one I remember as a child.  I had seen an Easter Bread recipe on the La Lama Mountain Ovens site and modified it to my liking.  Although I’ve said before that I usually have more difficulty with yeast recipes, this one went well from the first time I tried it.

I usually double this recipe to make six breads because I give at least four away.

Enjoy the recipe.

After rolling out the dough for one bread.

After braiding the dough.

Form the braid into a circle and pinch ends well.

Transfer into the pan and add colored egg(s).

Hot out of the oven.

Easter Bread

Yield:  3 breads                Cook Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients

Starter:

  • 2 packages dry yeast (1 package yeast = 5 – 1/4 teaspoons; therefore substitute 2 1/2  or 2 1/4 teaspoon jarred yeast)
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 or 4 handfuls of white unbleached flour

Bread:

  • 8 cups white unbleached flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 oz melted butter, cooled (one stick)
  • 1/2 cup Rum (possible substitutes whiskey or bourbon)
  • 6 dyed Easter eggs (eggs don’t need to be hard boiled as they will cook during baking; be careful not to crack)

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • nonpareils

Directions:

Step 1:  For the starter, add 1 teaspoon sugar to warm milk, then dissolve yeast in the milk.  Use your fingers to mix the yeast until it dissolves.  Whisk (or stir) in flour by the handful until about the consistency of a thick pancake batter.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour or until bubbly and about double in bulk..

Step 2:  While the starter is rising, mix 8 cups flour, 2 cups sugar and 1 teaspoon salt together and put this mixture onto a large wooden table.  Make a well in the center large enough to hold all of the starter plus the wet ingredients in the next step.  I have a huge platter that I use for this step so if my flour well gives way, I don’t have a mess dripping onto the floor.

Step 3:  Beat eggs in electric mixer until light and foamy, add melted butter and rum and just beat to mix.  Scrape the starter from step 1 into the well of dry ingredients.  Pour egg mixture in slowly while using a fork to start incorporating the flour into the well, making a soft dough.  This will take some time and a lot of patience because you do not want to collapse the flour walls while you have a very runny egg mixture in the middle.  Once you have a soft dough working, start kneading vigorously using a dough scraper to help it along.  The dough will start off being very sticky.  Keep adding dustings of flour and kneading until it is soft and velvety, being careful not to add so much flour that it become hard or dry.  This kneading will take about 15 min.  Place in a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to double.  It will take 2 or 3 hours.

Step 4:  Deflate the dough but do not knead it.  Cover again and let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours.

Step 5:  Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces of about 2 lbs each (make large thick loaves – yields softer bread).  Cut each piece in half for a total of six pieces and roll each piece into a long log, working from the center out.  Rotate working each piece, resting the others. This relaxes the dough and makes it easier to work with.  When all are the size you want (2 to 3 feet) to form them into twisted rings to fit the pan, then take two of the rolled logs and twist together to form a braid, pinching ends together well.  Place on greased (using cooking spray) sheet pans (I use the disposable aluminum half steam tray pans – the bread turns out better) and insert two dyed eggs per bread between the braids but so they are still visible – I usually place one on each side of the bread for visual appeal.  Cover bread with clean towels and let rise overnight.  Repeat for the other two breads.

Step 6:  Preheat oven to 350.  Place all three uncovered breads in the oven.  Bake until golden brown for 30 minutes to yield soft moist bread.  Rotate the breads 180 degrees and top shelf to bottom shelf for even baking when adding egg wash.  After 20 minutes of baking, brush each loaf with a mixture of 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk and sprinkle with nonpareils.

Step 7:  Cool completely before wrapping.  Keep breads well wrapped, so they don’t dry out.  You can double wrap and freeze if not eating in the near term.

Recipe adapted from La Lama Mountain Ovens.

Tips:  When handling the dough make sure your hands and all the implements you use are well dusted with flour.  Use your dough scraper as one “hand” when kneading.  You may consider preheating your oven to “low” for 10 minutes and then shut oven off to make a good environment for the various raising stages.  This can dramatically shorten the process time from start to finish.

This post may also be entered in the following linky party. Click the button below to see the other great posts in the blog hop.Sweet 2 Eat Baking

Pandoro (also Pan D’oro)

For Easter Sunday I visited my sister and planned to bring Pandoro and Easter Bread.  I’ve baked this Pandoro a couple of times already and I think this is the best version yet.  The result was a light and sweet Pandoro.  My sister and head taste tester really liked it.  My sister-in-law said the Pandoro was better than those commercially made.

I had seen this on La Lama Mountain Ovens site some time ago and had set it aside for a while before trying it.  This past Christmas I decided it was time to give this recipe a try.  I usually have more difficulty with yeast recipes, so this one took a few tries before I got it to where I was happy with it.  As you can see in the pictures I didn’t use a Pandoro pan, I used disposable aluminum pans that are similar to angel food cake pans but without the center hole.

Enjoy the recipe.

After mixing is competed.

After de-panning.

Ready to take a bite.

Pandoro

Yield:  2 cakes                Cook Time:  60 – 70 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 7 large eggs, lightly beaten, divided
  • 2 large yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/4 tsp, instant dry yeast OR 7 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Step 1:  Combine flours in a large bowl.  Remove 3/4 cup for kneading later.

Step 2:  Make your starter by placing 2 3/4 cups of the blended flour, 1/2 cup warm water, 3 eggs lightly beaten, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 stick (2 oz.) of unsalted butter and yeast in your mixer bowl.  With the paddle attachment, mix until well blended.  The consistency should be of a very thick pancake batter.  Tightly wrap the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft free place until it doubles in volume.  This should take 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Step 3:  Combine remaining dry ingredients while the starter is rising.  Add 1 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp salt to the blended flour and mix with a wooden spoon.

Step 4:  Assemble the dough by stirring down the raised starter in the mixer bowl.  Add the remaining blended flour from Step 3, the lightly beaten 4 eggs and 2 egg yolks, 2 tsp vanilla and 2 1/2 sticks of softened butter.  Begin mixing at the lowest speed with the dough hook for 2 minutes.  Gradually increase the mixer speed to 1/2 speed for an additional 3 minutes.  Prepare your kneading surface with the 3/4 cup flour reserved for kneading.  Dust your hands with flour  and, using a spatula, move the dough onto the kneading surface.  Gently knead while adding flour until the dough feels very silky and buttery and kneads to the point of just barely sticky.  You may find it easier to use a dough knife to help with kneading.  It is important not to add too much flour as the dough must remain very soft.  Place the dough in an oiled large ceramic bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free area until it doubles in volume.  This should take between 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Step 5:  For panning and proofing (overnight), punch down risen dough gently until deflated.  Turn onto lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a sausage shape and then into a tight ball.  Using cupped hands on top of the dough ball, rotate the dough around in a circle continuously until the surface feels taut, always maintaining the ball shape.  Do not put too much flour on the kneading surface as you want some friction between the dough and the surface it will slide on, just as you want to exert some friction on the ball with your hands as you rotate it – this is what tightens the dough ball.  Finally, turn the ball over in your hand and pinch the seams which have opened up on the flat bottom tight in the center.  Reverse again and place in a well buttered pandoro pan and gently pat down until surface is flat.  Place the two filled pans in a warm, draft free area and let rise until the dough reaches the top of the pan, until the next day.

Step 6:  Bake and de-pan by placing both pans on lower rack of preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce temperature to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until cooked through (check at 20 minutes and then test with a toothpick or skewer every additional 10 minutes, at least twice).  Remove from oven and place on cooling racks.  Do not attempt to de-pan the loaves until completely cool. Remove from pans and sift confectioner’s sugar over if serving, or double wrap and freeze.

Recipe adapted from La Lama Mountain Ovens.

Tips:  When handling the dough make sure your hands and all the implements you use are well dusted with flour.  Use your dough scraper as one “hand” when kneading.  You may consider preheating your oven to “low” for 10 minutes and then shut oven off to make a good environment for the various raising stages.  This can dramatically shorten the process time from start to finish.  Do not open the oven to peek until the whole baking cycle is done.  It is critical to let the loaves cool to room temperature before de-panning the loaves.