Photo credit: G. Drakopoulos - Food Styling: T. Webb
For the dough
- In a mixer’s bowl, add the water, yeast and 50 g of flour. Mix with a spoon and cover the mixture gently with the rest of the flour. Let it rise for about ½ an hour, until the yeast activates and its bubbles rise and break through the surface of the flour.
- While you are waiting for the yeast, beat the aromatics - sugar and mahlab, vanilla and mastic in a blender, until they are finely ground. You can also do this with a mortar and pestle.
- Heat the honey, 100 g of butter, orange zest and sugar and aromatics mixture in a pan until the butter melts. Do not let it burn, heat only until it warms up and melts.
- Remove from heat. Add the eggs and then transfer the whole mixture to the mixers bowl that contains the yeast mixture.
- Beat for about 5 minutes, on low speed with the hook attachment, until the mixture starts to pull back from the sides of the bowl. After 5 minutes, add the 50 g of chilled butter while the mixer is running. Add it a piece at a time waiting for each piece to be completely incorporated in the mixture before adding the next. When the last piece has been incorporated, remove the mixers bowl, cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise for about 1-2 hours. Make sure the place you leave the dough is not too hot.
- When ready, divide the dough in half. This is enough to make 2 sweetbreads.
For the filling
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave or a bain marie.
- When melted, stir until the mixture is smooth and combined.
- Add the sugar and cocoa powder. Divide the mixture in to 2 halves.
- Chop the walnuts and set them aside.
For the sweet breads
- Knead and fold the dough quite a few times. Roll it out using some more flour to help you. Fold it over on itself again and again and roll out once more. This helps the sweetbread to create lots of “fibers” while baking. Repeat this process 4-5 times and divide the dough in half. Roll out into a rectangular shape.
- Spread the filling over the rolled out dough with a spatula. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the filling. Roll the dough into a log, rolling from the shorter side.
- Refrigerate the roll for 10-15 minutes so the filling can become more solid.
- When ready, cut the dough in half, lengthwise. You can now see the layers of chocolate between the dough. Turn the cut sides upwards so the filling won’t run out. Shape the 2 pieces of dough into a braid, being careful that the cut sides are always facing upward so that the filling doesn’t run out while baking. Transfer braid to a baking pan or loaf pan. Repeat the same process with the other half of the dough.
- Let it rise from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180* C (350* F) Fan.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes.
For the syrup
- Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and it is ready when the sugar has dissolved.
- Divide the syrup into 2 halves. and carefully pour each half over each sweetbread when you remove them from the oven.
- Remove the sweetbreads from the oven and carefully pour each one with the syrup.
- Set them aside to cool before cutting into pieces and serve.