Crazy soft & fluffy bread filled with a dark chocolate sauce and shaped into a tall ring that looks like wool. This lovely layered bread is deceptively easy to make and an absolute stunner on the table.
Sometime in early spring, a photo of a gorgeous looking layered bread showed up on my IG explore page, the caption called it wool bread (it does look like yarn doesn’t it?!). I was immediately smitten – just by the look of it. I thought, this must be one of those really involved breads – maybe I’ll make it when I have like six hours to dedicate to it.
Then I found this youtube video by a blog called Apron, that made the technique popular and I couldn’t believe how simple it was. It helps that the author behind this recipe gave us such an easy and lovely video to follow! I tried her technique and boom, I had the most gorgeous bread on my hands. I don’t know where the technique originated; this youtube video was published before Apron’s and some commenters on Apron’s video said their mothers used to make this bread… so far it’s unclear. If I find out any more info, I will update this section.
I can’t remember what my original idea was – maybe cheese? I still think cheese would be great here actually. But I am forever a lover of this milk bread chocolate babka and this buttermilk cinnamon roll dough (a very popular recipe on this site) and so I decided to combine all three.
And, well this bread is AMAZING. It’s got the fluffiness of milk bread (thanks to a Chinese tangzhong method which gelatinizes some of the flour’s gluten), the dark chocolate filling that you’d normally slather over brioche to make a babka (in this bread it gathers mostly in a little spiral so you get a full mouthful) and it’s all encapsulated in this stunning ring that looks like… wool! Ok, ready????
Buttermilk powder: from The Saco Pantry; this is dehydrated buttermilk until it becomes a powder. Many bread recipes use milk powder; it’s concentrated sugars and proteins make the dough very soft. I love using buttermilk powder for the same reason, but I think buttermilk powder makes it even more tender. I use it in my buttermilk cinnamon rolls too!
Bread flour: A high protein bread flour makes for a chewier bread with a good structure. You can sub AP if needed.
Instant yeast: or ‘rapid rise’. You can use active dry yeast if needed, just add 25% more. I dissolve both yeasts in warm water.
Canola oil: Can sub any flavorless oil. Olive oil could work well to here, it goes with chocolate nicely.
Eggs: Large eggs. No substitutes for this recipe but if you need an eggless dough see this option.
Butter: No subs here. Butter is fine cold as we’ll melt it on the stove.
Chocolate: Semi-sweet or dark chocolate is best as we don’t want an overly sweet filling. If using chocolate chips, use a good quality.
Cocoa: Dutch process gives the paste a rich chocolaty taste. The Saco Pantry makes a blend of rich and natural cocoa which I really love.
Powdered sugar: If it’s lumpy sift it. Organic or non organic is fine here since it’s heated.
This bread looks like a magical work of art, you’d think it took hours to create… But, actually it’s incredibly simple and anyone can do it! You simply need to divide the bread into four sections, roll each one out into an oval/rectangle shape, make slits in the top half, spread filling onto the bottom and then roll it up. Placed next to each other these rise up and create this beautiful effect. Watch this incredibly helpful video – I believe this is the video where the technique went a bit viral.
I’d like a different filling, what are my options?
You can use nutella or cinnamon sugar (like you would in a cinnamon roll, see this recipe for a brown butter one – it’s fantastic).
I can’t find buttermilk powder, what can I use instead?
You may use milk powder. If you can’t find either then swap ½ cup water in the roux with milk and prove the yeast with ⅓ cup warm milk (instead of the ¼ cup water).
Can this be made ahead of time?
The dough can be made ahead of time (the first rise can be done in the fridge overnight) but I’d bake it the day I plan to serve it, if not serve it right when it comes out of the oven. It’s wonderful warm!
Why are you making me cook flour with water?
This is called making a tangzhong, a Chinese method made popular by Japanese milk bread. Doing so
I don’t have a tube pan, how can I make this?
You can make it in a bundt pan or a ring mold or even a round cake pan like the original did (it should be quite deep). Depending on the size of the pan you are using you’ll want to adapt how much dough you add to it. If your pan is smaller than a traditional tube pan, add less. You want enough room for the bread to both rise and bake – it will at least double in size.
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