Honey & Co., you make me feel like an inadequate baker. Please don’t misunderstand…. I am madly in love with both Honey & Co. as well as Honey & Co. The Baking Book, but the baking-centric recipes (rather than, say, the lamb siniya) take me a couple of repetitions before I feel like I’ve succeeded. Some of them are simple and work the first time around, some of them are not. Everything I’ve tried has been completely worth the extra effort, mess, and occasional frustration, including this lovely chocolate hazelnut cinnamon krantz loaf.
What is a krantz loaf? Simply a babka (recently enjoying a massive surge in popularity), where the filling is on display along the top of the loaf rather than hidden inside the braided bread. In Honey & Co’s version of a krantz loaf, the chocolate-hazelnut-cinnamon filling to dough ratio is practically one-to-one. And while I just called this a bread, because it’s baked in a loaf pan with yeast and bread flour and calling it bread gives me permission to eat more of it, it is really a yeasted cake. It’s rich and buttery and decadent chocolate-y with exactly the right hint of cinnamon.
It’s probably pretty obvious from scanning the recipe that making this chocolate hazelnut cinnamon krantz loaf will be a lot easier if you have a kitchen scale. If you don’t, fear not – I measured in cups and tablespoons to convert everything, so while the volumes are in rather precise fractions, they should work.
Part of my struggle with the recipes in Honey & Co. The Baking Book has to do with conversion from centimeters to inches. The recipe for their chocolate, hazelnut and cinnamon krantz loaf states very clearly that it fills 1 kg (2 lb) loaf tin. I didn’t stop to consider what that meant the first time I made it, and only realized as I was trying to roll my dough out to their specified 50-by-30 cm rectangle that a 2 lb loaf tin is a Pullman loaf pan, and I don’t own one of those. I am not sure I know anyone who does.Since I was utterly unable to roll out the dough beyond a rectangle with the longest edge measuring 40 cm (16 inches), and since braiding the split loaf decreased the length even more, I endeavored to fit my krantz loaf into a single 9-inch loaf pan. It almost fit, but it bulged up a bit at the ends. This led to some undesirable blackening on the top of the loaf and a slightly underdone middle after 30 minutes. No one complained, and my imperfect first attempt at chocolate hazelnut cinnamon krantz was devoured by chocolate-loving friends.
Still, for my next attempt at this chocolate hazelnut cinnamon krantz loaf, I split the filled and rolled dough twice – first lengthwise and then horizontally. Because more of my filling ended up in the middle rather than at the edges, I rotated one of the split lengthwise halves so that the middle was pointed outwards before I braided them together with the other split half. Does that make sense? I took some demo pictures, but not any of the actual twisting part. My hands were too messy to touch my camera… It would also be possible to braid the dough, then coil it and bake it in a cake pan instead of dividing it into two loaves.
Don’t let the length of the instructions fool you – this yeasted cake is incredibly simple to make, you just need a little patience to wait through the two risings and a lot of patience to wait as the cake cools. While you do need to work rapidly with the filling, it’s pretty fast to prepare, and it’s not even necessary to ensure the chopped chocolate fully melts. Any small pieces that remain only contribute to the visual (and edible) appeal of the hazelnut-studded filling. One of the steps I enjoy most in making this chocolate hazelnut cinnamon krantz loaf is pouring the sugar syrup over the freshly baked loaves. It sizzles as it hits the hot filling, and creates a beautiful shiny coating on top of your krantz cake.
Original Source: Honey & Co. The Baking Book
- 2¼ teaspoons dried yeast (or 20 g fresh yeast)
- 2⅔ cup (330 g) strong white bread flour (like King Arthur Flour)
- scant 3 tablespoons (40 g) superfine sugar*
- pinch of Kosher salt
- 1 large egg, gently beaten
- 5¾ tablespoons (85 g/ml) whole milk, lukewarm
- 6⅓ tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter
- ½ cup + ⅓ cup (190 g) superfine sugar*
- rounded ½ cup (80 g) 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup (40 g) dark cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅓ cup (60 g) roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- scant ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- scant ½ cup (100 ml/g) water
- 1 tablespoon honey, glucose, or light corn syrup
- Place the milk in a small bowl, then sprinkle with the yeast and stir once. Allow yeast to bloom, bubbling gently on the surface, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the milk-yeast to a mixing bowl, then add the egg, butter, and sugar. Stir briefly to combine. If using a mixer with a dough hook, attach the dough hook, add the flour and salt to the liquid ingredients, and knead at low speed until the mixture forms a glossy, cohesive ball of dough, about 5-6 minutes. [If you do not have a mixer with a dough hook, knead by hand on a clean, lightly floured work surface.]
- Cover the dough in the mixing bowl and chill it in the refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Line your loaf pan(s) with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang at the long ends to enable lifting the baked loaf out. If your parchment paper doesn't cover the sides, butter the sides of the pan(s).
- Set up a mise-en-place. Place your sugar in one bowl and stir together the chopped chocolate, cocoa, cinnamon in a second bowl.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter (or use the microwave). Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat, add the sugar, and stir to quickly dissolve. Moving quickly, add the chocolate, cocoa, and cinnamon, and stir to combine and melt the chocolate. The chocolate does not need to completely melt into the butter.
- Set aside briefly to cool at room temperature while you roll out the dough. Don't wait too long, as this filling solidifies quickly and is difficult to spread.
- Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and place it on a clean, lightly floured work surface. Roll it out into a rectangle about 16-by-12-inches (40-by-30 cm), with a thickness of about ⅛th of an inch.
- Spread the room temperature filling (it can't be hot, otherwise you'll melt your dough) evenly over the surface of your dough rectangle, reaching all the way into the corners as best you can. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over the filing.
- Starting at the long edge closest to you, tightly roll the dough away from you to produce a 16-inch long dough spiral log. [If the dough has softened too much and is difficult to handle, place it on a tray in the refrigerator to re-chill, about 10 minutes.]
- Using a sharp knife or pastry cutter, evenly split the dough log down the middle lengthwise, exposing the layers. Place the two halves side-by-side, with the filling facing up. Lift one half over the other, crossing at the middle. Working from the middle out, braid the strands over each other, keeping the filling layers pointed up as much as possible. If making two loaves, split the braided loaf horizontally.
- Place the braid(s) in the prepared loaf pan(s) and cover loosely with a cloth towel or plastic wrap. Leave to rise again for 1.5 - 2 hours at room temperature or up to 14 hours in the refrigerator. The dough will appear soft and fluffy, increasing in size by almost double.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F, letting it equilibrate for 10 minutes after reaching the specified temperature.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolk and cream for the egg wash. Remove the loaf/loaves from the refrigerator, if stored there. Brush the surface of the loaf/loaves with the egg wash and let the dough finish rising as the oven preheats.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 425 F, then rotate and bake another 5 minutes at 425 F. Decrease the temperature to 375 F and bake for another 15 minutes.**
- While the bread bakes, prepare the simple sugar syrup. Add the sugar, water, and honey to a small pan. Stir to combine and start dissolving the sugar. Bring to a boil, skim off any residue on the surface, then remove from the heat.
- As soon as the krantz is finished baking (30 minutes total), remove from the oven and immediately pour the sugar syrup over the hot bread. It will look like a lot, but it's supposed to be (alternatively, store leftover sugar syrup in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.) Place on a wire rack and let the krantz loaf cool completely in the baking pan, otherwise it will fall apart.
**If baking a 14-inch Pullman loaf, you can leave the oven temperature at 425 F for the first 20 minutes, then drop it to 375 F for the final 10 minutes.