A buttery enriched dough rolled around layers of dark chocolate ganache and baked in a bundt tin for a beautiful and festive loaf.
I love going all out when it comes to festive and Christmas desserts. I host our family Christmas dinner every year with my immediate family and it’s always a full on culinary experience.
There’s a variety of starters, mains and always a shop stopping dessert. It wouldn’t be Christmas without being over the top and pulling out all the stops, would it?
I can guarantee that this recipe will be a hit for your festive dinners. It also makes for a great breakfast on boxing day. Serve alongside a mug of coffee or mocha and you’re on to an absolute winner.
What’s the story behind this chocolate bundt loaf?
One of the desserts I love to make for our Christmas dinner is this chocolate bundt loaf. It’s got my favourite things in it…. dark chocolate and butter. It’s most definitely and indulgent treat and solely reserved for this time of the year.
Whilst the chocolate bundt loaf bakes it makes the entire kitchen smell like a bakery. That’s better than any fragrance you could ever buy.
The chocolate bundt loaf consists of layers of enriched dough which encases even more layers of dark chocolate ganache. It’s then layered (yes more layers) in a bundt tin, proved, and baked till golden brown all over.
The result is a buttery, sweet, and flaky bake filled with strands of beautiful dark chocolate ganache. The dark chocolate adds the perfect flavour and creaminess to the centre of each slice and creates an incredible marbled effect.
It almost resembles a chocolate babka or brioche in its flavour, though the former has a different folding and method whilst the latter is a different dough.
It pairs beautifully with a mug of coffee or a mocha, or any hot milky drink in all honesty! But this dessert is one that will certainly ‘wow’ your dinner guests and make you look like the next Great British Bake Off winner.
What is an enriched dough?
Yeasted doughs can fit into two different categories, enriched or lean.
The most common type of dough that we consume day-to-day would be lean doughs. These are doughs that contain a very low percentage of fats and sugars, e.g. a crusty loaf. On the other hand enriched doughs are doughs that contain a higher percentage of fats and sugars.
Traditionally this is in the form of eggs, butter and milk.
By adding fat into the dough it acts to tenderise it by coating and shortening the gluten strands within it. This allows for a softer crumb and crust, whilst also making the dough ‘richer’ and providing a smoother mouthfeel.
But one thing to note when working with enriched doughs is that the additional fat will slow down the yeast, thus increasing the proving time. Sugar also helps to retain water molecules which helps to increase the shelf life and keep the bread fresh for longer.
With enriched dough, it’s important to ensure that the addition of fat is carried out at the right stage. It must be added later on during kneading once there is already a good level of gluten formation. The fat hinders the formation of a gluten network so it’s better to add it once this network has already formed.
The fat molecules will then coat the gluten strands. This is done by kneading the dough without the fat for a considerable amount of time first. Then add the fat and allow it to slowly incorporate and continue kneading until it forms a smooth, elastic dough.
The kneading is done when the dough reaches the ‘windowpane’ stage. This refers to a test where a small portion of dough is slowly stretched until it becomes thin and translucent without tearing – that’s the sign of good gluten development.
For this chocolate bundt loaf, the dough will be proved overnight in the refrigerator.
This is for several reasons, firstly it allows the yeast to slow down and in turn produce more flavourful acids. This will therefore provide a better tasting (and even smelling) loaf. The difference between the overnight cold rise and a room temperature risk is huge.
The cold prove also allows for a slower and stronger gluten network formation. This contributes to structure, and frankly structure is key when it comes to making a good enriched dough.
The cold also allows the fats to firm up slightly and the dough to become less sticky. This will make it far easier to manage when rolling out and handling.
The dough can be kept in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours up until 48 hours.
What you’ll need to make this chocolate bundt loaf
The full recipe can be found at the end of the blogpost
For the dough you’ll require
- Strong white bread flour – this has a higher protein content than plain flour and hence allows for much better gluten formation and a stronger gluten network. This is key for developing the right structure
- Yeast – this is the leavening agent used. Ether fresh yeast, active dry yeast or instant/fast action dry yeast can be used. Fresh yeast and active dry yeast require reconstituting in warm liquid and sugar in order to activate them. Instant/fast action dry yeast can be added directly into the flour
- Whole milk – this should have around a 3.7% fat content. This adds flavour, fat and richness
- Cinnamon – for a subtle spiced flavour
- Unsalted butter – avoid salted butter as the salt will be far too overpowering, especially as the dough requires a substantial amount of butter
- Vanilla extract – this will add an abundance of flavour and will make your kitchen smell like a bakery whilst this loaf is in the oven
This chocolate bundt loaf only requires a few ingredients. One thing to note is that it’s eggless and hence all of the fat will be added from the butter and the whole milk. These two ingredients are crucial for adding the necessary richness.
For the chocolate ganache filling you’ll require
- Dark chocolate – I recommend using around 70-75% however if you can switch to milk chocolate if you’re not a huge fan of dark. Use one that’s of a good quality as it will make a huge difference in flavour
- Unsalted butter
- Icing sugar
- Cocoa powder – this should be pure cocoa powder and not hot chocolate powder
And lastly for the bundt tin you’ll need:
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How to make this chocolate bundt loaf
Let’s first make the enriched dough
1+2) First melt the butter in a saucepan/microwave and then allow it to cool whilst you prepare the dough
3) Mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon, and then add in the milk and vanilla extract
4) Mix the dough for around 4-5 minutes on a medium low speed until it has combined and starting to form a cohesive mass. No dry flour should be present
5) Add the slightly-cooled melted butter
6) Continue to mix on a medium low speed until all the butter has been incorporated. This can take around 5 minutes
7) Once the butter has been incorporated, place the mixer on a high speed and mix for a further 4-5 minutes. You should end up with a dough that leaves the base of the bowl when mixing. It will be a slightly sticky dough but it’s still easy to handle
8) Transfer the dough to a clean work surface using a dough scraper or lightly oiled hands
9+10) Start to pick up the dough and fold it in on itself
11 +12) Keep folding the dough in on itself and you will notice it feeling more tight and less sticky. This helps to develop surface tension and structure
13) Finally shape your dough into a ball. Do this by dragging the dough against your counter, as if you were dragging it to yourself. Cup your hand around the dough and gently pull towards you, then turn the dough and repeat. It will very quickly form a ball
14) Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with a lid or cling film and allow to prove. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
Next let’s prepare the chocolate ganache (this will need to cool completely)
1+2) Melt the chocolate and butter together on a low heat. Whisk to ensure it is completely melted and incorporated
3+4) Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the cocoa powder, icing sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk until completely incorporated. It may have a slight grainy texture to it which is absolutely fine. The main thing is to ensure that there are no lumps.
Set this aside to cool completely, do not refrigerate as it will solidify. If this happens it will need to be re-heated again to melt it and then cooled once more to room temperature
Let’s assemble the dough and the ganache
5) Remove the proved dough from the fridge and turn out onto a floured surface
6) Lightly dust the top surface with flour and roll out to a 19×14 cm rectangle which will be roughly 0.5cm thick
7) Spread your cooled chocolate ganache all over the surface into one layer, leaving a 1cm clear border all around
9+10) Once the ganache has been spread all over, start rolling the top edge down, try and keep the rolls quite tight
11+12) Continue to roll right till the end. Lightly wet the bottom corner with water with your finger and pinch the seam together (the water helps it to stick) in order to seal the roll
13+14) Using a shark knife, cut into 16 even pieces. Do this by first cutting into halves, then quarters, then eighths and so on. This will ensure all pieces are relatively even
Now to finally assemble the bundt tin:
15) Brush your bundt tin with butter generously to prevent sticking. Don’t use any baking paper, it doesn’t tend to work well with bundt tins. Start by layer eight pieces across the bottom, make sure these are evenly spread out. Then place another 8 pieces on top of those. This will form 2 layers of 8
16) Cover with cling film and allow to prove till roughly 1.5x in size (about 1.5-2hrs, possibly 1 hour on a warm day)
17) Once the dough has proved, bake in a preheated oven at 170’C fan/190’C conventional for 30 minutes. The loaf will rise substantially during baking but it will level out as it cools.
18) Allow the loaf to rest for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. This should come out with ease
Chocolate bundt loaf serving suggestions:
This chocolate bundt loaf is great served alone, or with a warm cup of coffee. It’s got the lightest texture that almost melts in your mouth and a creamy chocolate centred filling. There’s not much else it needs.
But having said that, I do have two personal favourite ways of serving this loaf:
- Whilst the loaf is warm, melt 1 tbsp of butter and brush the entire surface with it. The loaf will be glistening, but we’re not going to stop there. Mix 30g of white granulated sugar with 2 tsp ground cinnamon and lightly scatter this all over the loaf. The cinnamon sugar really adds a special touch and the most amazing smell. Enjoy warm, you won’t be disappointed.
- Now, my favourite way. Slice up the loaf and toast it in a pan with salted butter until golden and brown on both sides. This will take a couple of minutes on a medium low heat. Then top this with a light layer of cinnamon sugar, toasted hazelnuts and serve with vanilla ice cream. You’ve got the warm, buttery, toasted chocolate slice with a little cinnamon sugar and a hint of salt from the butter. Paired with the toasted hazelnuts and vanilla ice cream just takes this to the next level. It’s become one of my favourite desserts and it’s how I’ll be serving this loaf up for Christmas.
I highly recommend the second method, it looks incredibly elegant and makes for the perfect plated dessert. Get all your pans on the stove and you can have 8 of these toasting at once. Your guests will be blown away.
Question and answers
What if I don’t have a bundt tin?
This will also work in a 9″ round cake tin. Assemble the tin in the same way I have for the bundt tin here. Place 8 rolls across the base as the first layer, and another 8 on top for the second layer.
This will mean you lose the traditional bundt shape and you’ll be left with a more traditional round cake shape. But this can still be sliced and enjoyed perfectly.
Can I make this vegan?
You certainly can, use a vegan butter and your favourite plant based milk. I find this works best with oat milk (personal preference) and with soy (but you do get a hint of the soy flavour).
How long will this keep?
This will last up to 5 days refrigerated in an air tight container. To re-heat either toast in a pan or place slices in the microwave until warm.
Can I use all purpose/plain flour instead of bread flour?
Preferably not as the flour contributes greatly to the texture. Bread flour has a higher gluten content and hence develops more structure whilst also absorbing more liquid than plain/AP flour.
It will still work with plain/AP flour but it won’t be exactly the same. If you do use plain/AP flour you’ll likely need to add more flour during the kneading stage.
Can this be made be kneaded by hand rather than using a machine?
Technically yes. But you’ll be looking at a minimum of 30 minutes of kneading in order to develop the same amount of structure as you would with the stand mixer. But it can be done, it’s just a huge arm workout.
If you have a stand mixer, definitely use it.
Chocolate Bundt Loaf
- Stand mixer recommended
- 27cm/10.5″ bundt tin
For the dough:
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 100 g white granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 7 g instant yeast 10g active dry yeast or 25g fresh yeast (see notes on how to use)
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 300 ml whole milk
- 70 g unsalted butter melted
For the chocolate ganache filling:
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 100 g chocolate I recommend a 74% dark chocolate (personal favourite)
- 60 g icing sugar
- 25 g cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
For the dough:
- First melt the butter in a saucepan and then allow to cool completely
- Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and cinnamon together, and then add the vanilla extract and milk. Mix together on a medium low speed in a stand mixer for 4-5 minutes. It will start to form a cohesive dough with no dry flour remaining
- Add the melted butter and continue to mix on a medium low speed for a further 5 minutes or until all the butter has been incorporated
- Then place the mixer on a high speed for a further 5 minutes. The dough will clean the bowl and will leave the base of the bowl when mixing
- Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and begin to lift the dough and fold it in on itself. Repeat this motion several times, you will feel the dough tightening up. If the dough is sticking, use some additional flour or lightly oiled hands
- Form a doughball and place this into a container covered with a lid or clingfilm. Place in the refrigerator and prove for 12-24 hours
Preparing the loaf:
- First prepare your filling by melting the chocolate and butter in a saucepan on low heat. Whisk to ensure they are fully incorporated
- Then remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the icing sugar, cocoa powder and the salt. Whisk to incorporate and allow this mixture to cool completely at room temperature (do not refrigerate)
- Once the dough has proved, transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out with a rolling pin in to a 19x14cm rectangle that is around 0.5cm thick
- Spread the cooled chocolate filling over the dough leaving a 1cm border all around
- Start to roll the dough down starting from the long side until it forms a roll
- Lightly brush the seam with water and pinch to seal
- Cut into 16 even pieces with a sharp knife
- Layer 8 pieces into a generously buttered bundt tin. Then place the remaining 8 on top as a second layer
- Cover with cling film and allow to prove for a further 1.5-2hrs. On a warm day this may only require 1 hour
- Preheat your oven to 170’C fan or 190’C conventional
- Bake the loaf for 30 mins
- Allow to rest for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely
For another great Christmas recipe, try out my apple and almond pie: