This is a very fun and simple bread recipe using the water roux method. The texture of this bread, due to the water roux, is very soft, almost cotton like and the bread stays soft for more than 3 days. It is not very sweet because sugar was not added to the chocolate layers…
My husband was a little disappointed because he expected a sweeter chocolate layer…and he was like “looks like chocolate, but does not taste like it”. Once I explained to him that I used unsweetened cocoa powder, he settled for “Oh! So the chocolate color is just for looks”. Anyway, to boost the flavor you can always spread jam or Nutella.
I used my Zojirushi bread machine, but this simple recipe can be easily done manually. I made them into three mini bread pans; they came out very “cute”.
Water roux or Tangzhong
1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup water
2 ½ cups bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk powder
100 ml of water plus 2 tablespoons water
1 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons yeast
2 tablespoons butter
In a small pan, mix all the ingredients of water roux, place in a low heat and stir constantly until the temperature reach 65oC (150F), or if you do not have a thermometer, cook until ripples form. Set aside to cool by covering with a plastic film.
In the bread machine bucket, add the water roux, and all the other ingredients, except for the butter, water and cocoa powder.
Turn the machine to knead mode until it forms soft dough. Add the butter and let it knead until the butter incorporates into the dough.
Divide the dough in approximately 2/3 and 1/3 portions. Remove the small portion and set aside by covering with a plastic film.
Knead the bigger portion until the dough is smooth and elastic. Remove from the machine and set aside in a bowl by covering the dough with a plastic film.
Place back the small portion in the bread machine and add cocoa powder and water as needed and let it knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the chocolate dough and set aside in a bowl by covering with a plastic film.
Let both dough proof until the dough doubles to its original size.
Knock back both dough and let it rest for 5 minutes on the counter, cover both dough.
Flatten the chocolate dough into a rectangle shape of approximately 6 x 9 inches and the white dough to 12 x 6 inches. Layer the chocolate rectangle in between the white rectangle. Flatten the rectangle and cut in 2 equal portions. Layer one piece on top of the other and flatten again. Repeat this procedure a couple of times.
Cut the flatten dough into 3 equal pieces. Then again cut into 3 equal strips. Gently roll the strips and place 3 together and make a braid. Place the braided bread in the tins. Cover the tins with plastic film and let them rise in a warm place until the dough has almost tripled its original size.
Meanwhile, preheat oven at 350F. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter. Remove from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
If you enjoy this Asian style bread you might want to check on red bean buns or cinnamon rolls.