Warm, freshly baked bread is basically the food manifestation of love. The scent brings back memories of my grandmother baking soft round loaves during summer visits, and of trips to cafes and bakeries in the winter, when the heavenly smell would warm you up from the cold air outside. All this, and it?s pretty much the simplest food that people enjoy.
This is why, for Valentine?s Day this year, I?m baking these really sweet heart-shaped loaves. The magic of this recipe is really in the technique for shaping the dough before the second rise. You could probably use any bread recipe with this technique ? but I?ve put together a nice vegan french bread that has a touch of whole wheat, and I think it was delicious.
Years ago, I lived two doors down from a really fantastic bakery in Newfoundland. It was both the best and worst thing that ever happened to me, as on the one hand, I got to pick up a freshly baked croissant each day as I started my commute; on the other hand, I ate a freshly baked croissant every day. But it?s hard to regret something so delicious. Anyways, for Valentines day that bakery made a heart-shaped pastry that was glazed with sugar and gorgeous. I bought one, took it home and took a photo for Instagram, and?found it super tough to eat. The bread was too crusty to make a good small pastry, and it ended up being too hard to really enjoy.
Learning from this experience, I made this recipe with a softer dough that doesn?t develop as hard a crust when baking. I suggest dividing the dough from the recipe below to make two heart-shaped loaves, and baking them right on a baking sheet instead of using a pan. The double rise will allow the bread to still have enough height even without the support of a moulded pan.
If a sweeter bread is what you’re looking for, I’d suggest adding a sweet glaze on top of these loaves. I brushed the top with melted coconut oil before baking in order to get a nice colour on top. You could do the same, making a sweet glaze of icing sugar to put on after the loaf is cool. Up to you!
Sweet Heart-Shaped Bread
A soft and fluffy French bread loaf, shaped into a big heart!
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/2 tsp white sugar
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- olive oil
Combine the yeast with the hot water, and keep it in a warm place until the yeast fully proofs.
In a stand mixer, combine the two kinds of flour, the 1/4 cup of sugar, and the salt. Mix together briefly to combine.
Pour in the yeast and the additional cup of water. Allow the mixer to blend for about 5 minutes, until a solid lump of dough is formed.
Lightly coat the dough ball with a little olive oil and put it in a large covered bowl for an hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
When risen, lightly knead without trying to squish out too many of the air bubbles. Divide the dough into two halves, and for each, roll the dough into a long tube.
To make the heart shape: In the middle of the dough tube, twist the tube so that it creates the top join of the heart. Laying the tube on a baking sheet, arrange the two halves down into points at the bottom. Twist the two points together and tuck the end underneath, arranging so the join is neat.
Allow the bread to rise again on the baking sheets for a half hour.
Glaze the top with coconut oil or a non-dairy milk. Bake the loaves for 25 minutes, checking at 20 minutes.