Soft, sweet spirals of sweet dough, filled with cinnamon-spiced chocolate, arranged in a pretty Christmas star around a pot of irresistible salted toffee sauce. The sauce makes itself in the oven while the bread bakes making this a simple, yet impressive looking party bake. To make in advance, either complete the bake and reheat in the oven for a few minutes, or pop the star in the oven once assembled, remove from the fridge 45 minutes before baking to allow to come to room temperature and start to rise.
You will need a ramekin or glass jar, around 10-12cm diameter for the sauce, this must be oven safe.
For the dough:
• 80g unsalted butter (softened)
• 100ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
• 7g instant yeast
• 1 egg
• 250g strong white bread flour
• 30g light brown soft sugar
• 5g fine sea salt
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling:
• 150g dark chocolate
• 50g butter
• 100g light brown soft sugar
• 1 tsp cinnamon
For the sauce:
• 100g light brown soft sugar
• 50ml double cream
• ¼ tsp salt
• 25g butter
1) Add all the dough ingredients to a large mixing bowl (or to the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook – if you have one), bring together with a spoon until a sticky, shiny dough forms, this will take a good 10 minutes or so and some vigorous mixing if doing by hand!
2) Place in a warm area to prove for at least an hour, or until roughly doubled in size.
3) Meanwhile, make the sauce mix – combine the sugar, butter, salt and cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, transfer to your ramekin or glass jar and set aside – it will thicken up as the bread bakes.
4) When the dough is risen, make the filling – add the chocolate, butter, sugar and cinnamon to a saucepan and gently heat (on the lowest heat setting possible) until the butter and chocolate have fully melted, do not let the mixture boil. Set aside to cool slightly, until the mix has the consistency of a chocolate spread.
5) Flour the work surface (this is needed – the dough is very sticky!) and tip out the dough.
6) Divide the dough in half, and roll out each piece into a circle, with a diameter of around 30cm.
7) Spread the filling over one circle of dough only, and place the other circle on top, making a sandwich, pop this on to a baking sheet, lined with baking paper.
8) Pop the whole thing in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes, this will allow the filling to firm up enough to shape much more easily.
9) Place your ramekin or jar of sauce mix in the middle and cut around it using a sharp knife. You can bake this circle of filled dough at the same time as the rest – perfect to try before your guests arrive to eat the rest.
10) Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, make full-thickness cuts in the dough from the edge, in towards the middle, leaving 1cm of dough uncut next to the ramekin each time (so the dough is still all attached in the middle. 24 cuts are needed, imagine a clock face, and make a cut in from where each number would sit, then divide each piece in half again.
11) The folding pattern is up to you – but a simple and effective design is to fold every other strand over its neighbour, going round clockwise, then fold the remaining strands back over the edges of those that have already been folded (moving anticlockwise this time). Alternatively, let the filling soften slightly then twist the strands.
12) set aside to prove again for about half an hour, before pre-heating the oven to 170° fan – Don’t go over 180° in a conventional oven, the bread may take a few more minutes, but the caramel sauce may catch if cooked hotter.
13) Bake for 20 minutes until golden and risen, transfer carefully to a wire rack to cool.
14) Serve warm or cold, the whole thing (the dough and sauce) can be popped back in the oven for 3 minutes to re-heat.