There are a lot of beautiful things out there. And I am going to list some of my favorites now.
This pink wine.
This wine cave.
This coffee shop.
This bar in Paris.
This offbeat illustrator.
These cookie cutters.
And now this cake.
Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I thought I’d post something va-va-voom-y. With chocolate. (Just in case the baked molasses apples and references to Edgar Allan Poe didn’t quite do it for you last year.)
I had a very hard time figuring out which picture to select to début this thing called a chocolate kranz. You see, each step of making the yeasted cake is beautiful. Each inch. And so I documented it all. On Twitter. (The images are embedded in the instructions below.) Not an entirely dreamy approach, but neither is naming something “kranz cake” and expecting people to swoon.
I guess, in the end, it all boils down to this:
“There are things you do because they feel right and they may make no sense and they may make no money and it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other and to eat each other's cooking and say it was good.” -Brian Andreas
I hope you enjoy chocolate cakes; pink wines; and peculiar, beautiful things with your loved one(s) this week.
Chocolate Krantz Cakes
Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook
for the dough
4¼ cups (530g) all-purpose flour, sifted (plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (100g) sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
grated rind of a lemon
½ cup water
rounded ¼ tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup (150g) unsalted room temperature butter, cut into ¾ inch cubes
canola oil, for greasing
for the filling
scant ½ cup (50g) confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
4½ oz (130g) dark chocolate (I used Taza chocolate), melted
½ cup (120g) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (100g) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp demerara sugar
for the syrup
2/3 cup water
1¼ cup (260g) sugar
sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine flour, sugar, yeast, and lemon zest; mix on low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer still on low speed, add eggs, one at a time, and then slowly add the water and mix for a few seconds; increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes or until the dough comes together. Add the salt and then begin to add the butter, a cube at a time, with the mixer still running. Continue mixing for 10 minutes on medium speed, until the dough becomes shiny, smooth, elastic, and slaps the sides of the bowl. (During the mixing you may need to scrape down the sides of the mixer or add a dusting of flour if the dough is sticking.)
Place the dough into a bowl lightly oiled with canola oil; cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight in the fridge to rise.
The next day, make the filling by mixing together the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, melted chocolate, and melted butter. You’ll get a spreadable mixture a little more watery than a paste; set aside.
Grease two loaf pans 9 x 4 inches with some canola oil and then line them with parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and leave half covered in the bowl in the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the dough into a rectangle 15 x 11 inches. Be sure to trim the edges to make them straight and even (the corners should be at 90 degree angles), this will greatly help when you roll up the dough.
Using an offset spatula (or knife) spread half the chocolate filling mixture over the dough, leaving ¾ inch around all the edges uncovered. See here. Sprinkle half the pecans on top of the chocolate and then half of the demerara sugar on top of that. See here.
Brush a little water along the short side of the dough at the end farthest away from you. Using both hands, roll up the dough, starting with the short end closest to you, like you are rolling up a yoga mat, carpet, roulade, etc. (take your pick). Turn the dough 90 degrees, so that it is parallel (and no longer perpendicular) to you. Rest the rolled up dough on its seam.
Using a sharp knife, trim a ½ inch off both the ends of the roll and then cut the roll in half, lengthwise. (The long inner chocolate ribbons will become exposed with this step; it will feel wrong, but it won’t be.) Position each half so that the ribbons of chocolate are facing up towards you (again, the inner layers will be exposed here). Gently braid the two halves together by tucking one half under the other and then repeating this with the top half, by crossing it over and then tucking it under the other half. Continue until the halves are fully entwined. Pinch each end together. See here for what the finished product will look like.
Carefully lift the braided dough up and place it into one of your prepared pans. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough reserved in the fridge. See here.
Cover the pans with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot 1-1½ hours (it will only rise slightly). While the loaves are rising, set the oven to 375 degrees.
When ready, bake the cakes for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of each cake. While the cakes are baking, make the syrup by combining the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar just dissolves; set aside. (The syrup can be warm but it should not be piping hot.)
When the cakes come out of the oven, immediately brush all of the syrup over the cakes. It will feel like there is too much syrup, but be sure to use it all. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired. Leave the cakes to cool until they are warm (not hot) to the touch and then remove them from their pans and let cool completely.
Makes 2 loaf cakes
-My plan for the next round of cakes: more salt and some orange zest in the dough plus some citrus juice and orange blossom water in place of some of the water for the syrup. The cakes were lovely, but were pleading for more citrus, in my opinion. Perhaps some cardamom too. This is an intense cake, but extremely pleasurable to make. And indisputably beautiful.
-For the chocolate I used a mixture of 60% and 80% Taza chocolate.
-If you can’t find demerara sugar, you can use granulated or brown sugar.
-Leftovers can be easily stored in the freezer.
-This recipe is not easy, nor is it quick. But the dough is lovely to work with. And the end result is perfect with a cup of coffee for breakfast.