- Makes 2:
- For the starter:
- 1/2 cup milk, lukewarm
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- The dough:
- 4 cups (720 grams) bread flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
- 2 large eggs
- zest of an orange
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon ground mahlepi
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- The egg wash:2 egg yolks plus 2-4 tablespoons milk
- The Chocolate Sauce:
- 7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
The Hazelnut Chocolate Filling:13 ounces (370 grams) chocolate hazelnut spread
Optional fillings:dried cranberries, raisins, chopped nuts, candied fruit, ground cardamom, toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips
Note: This dough can be prepared in a table top mixer or kneaded by hand in a large bowl or on the countertop. Using a mixer will require less kneading time. About 10 minutes. If making the dough by hand, knead it at least 15 minutes so that the gluten forms well to achieve the desired consistency and texture.
To make the dough: Combine the starter ingredients together in the bowl of a tabletop mixer. Whisk and set aside for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. It is ready when a puffy cloud forms above the mixture.
In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar, orange zest, salt, and mahlepi together. Mix well to combine.
Whisk the eggs, vanilla extract, and milk together in a small bowl and set aside.
Once the yeast is activated, add all of the remaining ingredients to the mixer's bowl. Turn the mixer on low and knead for 8 minutes.
Add the softened butter and increase the speed to medium (4 on the Kitchen aid) and knead for 2 minutes.
Place some oil in the bottom of a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Toss around to coat and form a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in volume. About 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours.
Quick Rise Tip: My favorite place to keep the dough so that it rises quickly is in the dryer. Here is what I do:
1) I put 3-4 clean bath towels in the dryer and turn it on (high heat setting) for about 5-6 minutes.
2) I place the bowl with the dough into the dryer (on top of the warm towels) and close the door.
3) Make sure the dryer is OFF!!
4) Remove from the dryer when it has doubled in volume.
This trick usually cuts 30 minutes from the rise time.
Make the Chocolate Filling:Place the butter and sugar in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until they melt. Place the chocolate, cinnamon, salt, and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl and pour the melted butter/sugar liquid over them. Whisk together until chocolate melts and everything is combined.
Make the Vasilopita: Punch down the dough to remove the air. Cut into 2 equal portions.
Roll each portion into a large rectangle approximately 13 by 18 inches. Spread the chocolate sauce or the hazelnut spread over the surface of the dough. Roll it up starting from the wide side and form into a long log.
Cut the log down the center to create 2 ropes. Twist the two ropes together and pinch the edges to connect. Join both edges to create a wreath. Place each wreath on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm area until it rises for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
Brush the tops of vasilopita with the egg wash.
Bake in the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool at least 30 minutes before serving.
Once baked and cooled, the bread can be frozen up to a month. Just make sure to wrap it well with plastic wrap.