Freshly baked bread puts just about everyone in a good mood. Add a bit of chocolate to the bread, and it becomes a legendary loaf fit to serve the person you “knead” the most—your mom, of course!

This loaf is just as fun to make for adult bakers as it is for small hands—let them measure, roll, and lick the Nutella spoon for a moment of pure bliss. Little in life is more precious than a child serving his or her favorite person breakfast-in-bed. A cup of coffee, sliced strawberries, and a hunk of this delicious, made from scratch, easy, sweet bread makes for memory making at its finest. The most difficult, and the most fun, part of making this bread is trying to figure out how to get the braid just right. The directions below create a stunning, show stopper of a loaf that may take a few tries to get just right. It is also possible, however, to take a short cut. Simply complete steps 1 and 2 of the “To Braid the Bread” directions below. In step 3, place the two wide braid strips side by side and braid as if you were braiding hair. When the loaf is braided top to bottom, simply take one end and roll it up as if making a cinnamon roll (tuck the ends under), proceed with the egg wash, and bake as directed. With any luck, you will be able to take a photograph before your family slices the warm bread and half of it disappears while you have gone to change over the laundry (see photograph).  

The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight. —M.F.K. Fisher

Ingredients

1/3 cup whole milk, warmed to between 105 to 110 degrees F. 2 teaspoons dry yeast 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup milk (room temperature) 3 tablespoons granulated sugar Zest of 1 orange 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, optional 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 cup unsalted Kerrygold butter, dice and leave to warm to room temperature 1 cup Nutella 1/2 cup chocolate chips Egg wash (1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon heavy cream, 1 pinch kosher salt)

Directions

  1. Fit an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle the yeast into the mixing bowl and wake it up by pouring the warm milk over. The yeast is ready when it begins to bubble, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour, milk, orange zest, Grand Marnier if using, sugar, and salt. Turn the mixer on low speed just until a sticky dough forms, avoid over mixing.
  3. Add the butter and continue mixing until a smooth soft dough forms and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl to form a smooth ball of dough on the hook, about 4 to 7 minutes.
  4. Rub a bit of butter over the surface of a medium sized bowl and place the dough in it. Turn the dough over so the top is also buttered. Loosely cover, move to a warm (not hot) area of the kitchen, and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, about an hour depending on how warm it is in the kitchen.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 2 minutes.
  6. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Form each part in a rough rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 1 to 2 hours.
  7. Remove one of the rectangles of dough from the refrigerator and roll it into a 8” W x 24” L rectangle.
  8. Warm the Nutella in the microwave for 30 seconds (this makes it easier to spread).
  9. Spread 1/3 of the Nutella onto the rolled out rectangle, leaving a 1/4” border all the way around. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the Nutella.
  10. Begin rolling from the longest edge to form into a long log. Wrap the dough log in plastic wrap and put back in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes to an hour.
  11. Repeat with the remaining two rectangles of dough.
  12. Take one log of dough from the refrigerator and roll it on a Silpat, lengthening it with your hands until the log is about 3 feet long. Cut the log in half lengthwise to reveal the alternating layers of dough and Nutella, and set the two long strips aside. Repeat with the other two logs.
  13. Butter a sheet of parchment paper and loosely cover the long strips of dough. Let the strips rise for an hour.
  14. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  15. Braid the loaf.
  16. Gently brush the bread with the egg wash. Bake the loaf for 45 to 55 minutes. Halfway through the baking, check to see if the bread is darkening on the outside too quickly. If so, cover the loaf with foil and continue baking until the loaf is a deep golden brown and an instant thermometer reads 190 degrees F.

To braid the bread

  1. Place 3 log strips side by side so that the edges are touching.
  2. Repeat with the 3 other logs.
  3. Place the two wide braid strips side by side and gently move one onto the center of the other to form a cross.
  4. Wrap the strip on the bottom over the top making a slight twist as you place it over the top strip of dough, twisting slightly before laying it down.
  5. Pick up the strip of dough on the far bottom-right of the cross and place it over the top strip of dough.
  6. Pick up the end of the dough to the right of the bread and fold it over the strip directly to the left and closest to the center.
  7. Take the strip to the left of the new center strip and fold it over and it becomes the new center piece.
  8. Three pieces of dough will now be in front of you. Braid as if braiding hair and tuck loose ends under forming a rough dough loaf.
  9. Proceed to Step 16.