We Knead To Bake #37 : Leopard Patch Bread
There was a time when animal prints on clothing and upholstery and other home furnishings were the rage, probably sometime in the 60s and the 70s. It feels like people couldn’t get enough of it then because I have memories of seeing animal stripes, spots and patches just about everywhere as a child.
After almost half a decade, it would seem as if animal prints are back again in fashion and not just on clothing or fashion accessories. This time, it’s gone a step forward and is becoming the craze in food; in bread to be more precise!
Sometime late last year, I came across a Leopard Patch Bread on Pinterest and was so taken up with the idea that I marked I to make later. I am particularly fond of breads that make a visual statement. It was this month that I finally found the time and opportunity to make it and picked it for the We Knead To Bake group’s bread for the month.
My inspiration for this bread comes from this “Pao de Leite Leopardo” by Patricia Nascimento who first came up with the idea for it. Pao de Leite Leopardo loosely translates as Leopard Patterned Milk Bread. This bread is less about the actual process of making bread and more about the technique involved in creating a visually beautiful bread. It is an easy bread to make, and involves just a little bit of effort to shape it. I used a standard sandwich bread recipe and adapted it to include the dough for the leopard patches.
This is basically a sweet bread flavoured with cocoa and if you want to add more flavour, you can add vanilla to the dough. You could reduce the sugar a bit for a less sweet bread but this bread is best a little on the sweeter side because the cocoa in it can make it a slightly bitter experience without the sugar to sweeten it up.
As a variation on this if you just colour one half of the bread with enough cocoa to make it dark and then follow the recipe with just two different colours of dough, one white and one dark, you can make A Giraffe Patch Bread!
The light and dark colouring in the “patches” in my bread are not as strongly defined because I used a darker coloured cocoa which was what I had on hand. If you can find it, I would suggest using a lighter coloured cocoa for the lighter coloured dough and a darker cocoa for the darker dough to produce a more differentiated and well define patch pattern.
All-purpose flour 2 cups
For the darker brown coloured dough:
For the lighter brown coloured dough:
- To make the dough, combine all of the ingredientsin a large bowl and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. Or mix and knead the dough using an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine set to the dough or manual cycle.
- Divide the dough into two halves. Shape one half into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover loosely and let it rise till double (about 2 hours). This is the white coloured dough.
- Take the other half and divide it into two equal portions. To one portion, add the 3 tbsp cocoa powder dissolved in the 1 tbsp of milk and knead well until uniform in colour. This is the dark coloured dough for the leopard’s patches. I would suggest mixing the coloured dough the processor if you have one as it makes short work of mixing in the cocoa beautifully into the dough. Shape it into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover loosely and let it rise till double.
- Add the 1 1/2 tsp of cocoa powder dissolved in the 1 tbsp of milk to the other half of dough an knead well till the colour is uniform. This is the light coloured dough for the leopard’s patches. Shape it into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover loosely and let it rise till double.
- Gently deflate the dough and then divide each of the coloured dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each of the light brown portions into long ropes about 8 1/2“ long. Now also roll each of the dark brown portions to ropes of similar length. Flatten the dark brown ropes a little so they can enclose the light brown ropes. All the enclosures don’t have to be complete or perfect as the imperfections create the unevenness that will show up as beautiful “leopard patches”.
- Now roll out the white dough into ropes of similar length, roll to flatten them out and enclose the brown ropes making sure they’re completely covered. Now gently roll the completely enclosed ropes gently increasing their length to about 17”. Cut each of the 7 ropes exactly in half to make 14 ropes about 8 1/2" long.
- Now arrange them a little unevenly in a greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, cover and let it rise for about an hour until it has almost doubled in volume. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that refills slowly. Brush the top with milk.
- Bake the bread at 180C (350F) for 30 to 35 minutes, until it's light golden brown and done. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.