“I changed my mind.”
My mom shifted the car into park and turned off the ignition before looking over at me. “What do you mean? You can’t change your mind now; we’re already here.”
I looked out the window at the hair salon and then turned back to my mom. “Can’t I just get a trim, though? I really don’t want short hair. Please.” My 5-year-old voice teetered on the border between whining and shouting.
My mom shook her head. “We already made the appointment and told her what we wanted done. We aren’t spending all this money for just a trim. It’s just hair; it’ll grow back. Come on.”
Before I knew it, I was seated in a pleathery chair in front of a giant mirror, looking at my long blonde locks. Jessica, our hair stylist, sensed my unease. “Let’s just get it over with all at once, okay?” she asked as she tugged it into a ponytail. I could barely nod. A few snips later, my ponytail dropped to the floor with a whisp of finality, and the newly free remnants of my hair fell around my face. They barely reached my ears.
Silent tears began rolling down my cheeks as I calculated how long I’d have to wait to have long hair again.
My hair was really only one facet of my style troubles. In addition to bowl cuts, my mom had a penchant for “hammer pants.” She made many of my outfits by hand, including a hammer-panted onesie (I couldn’t make this up) with candy-pink stripes and gigantic, ceramic ice cream cone buttons. I think it might’ve also had a big lace collar. I posed in it with my bowl cut and a reluctant smile for many a photograph.
Then there was the red-and-denim hammer-panted contraption with the ceramic cow buttons. God bless my mother for sewing clothes for me, seriously, but I considered running away.
At least I was loved? Indeed, my childhood style woes remind me of this quote from food writer Angie Mosier about red velvet cake: “It’s the Dolly Parton of cakes: a little bit tacky, but you love her.”
Incidentally, I think I would’ve rather dressed like Dolly Parton than M.C. Hammer, but that’s neither here nor there.
This red velvet pull-apart bread has all the fun, tacky redness of red velvet with some extra chocolatey goodness thrown in. It began life as a chocolate yeast bread recipe that I modified into a pull-apart loaf. It’s sweet, melty, gooey, and with a cream cheese glaze drizzled over the top, reminiscent of your favorite red velvet desserts. As a plus, there are no hammer pants or bowl cuts in sight.
Tell me about your tackiest fashion choices (or the tackiest fashion “choices” imposed upon you by parents).
Chocolatey Red Velvet Pull-Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze
Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, adapted from Chocolate Bread by Paula Oland of the Balthazar Bakery
Yield: 2 loaves
Pull-apart loaves are downright addictive. Each layer is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. This loaf is made from yeast dough with a sweet chocolate flavor, hunks of melty chocolate throughout, and a bright red hue! The cream cheese glaze kicks it right over the top. Schedule out the recipe in advance to allow for the rising/resting times and enjoy!
Bread Starter Ingredients:
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Red Velvet Yeast Bread Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) red food coloring plus 1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup minus 3 tablespoons lukewarm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
vegetable oil for lightly oiling bowl
3/8 – 1/2 cup granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you like things)
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli’s 60% cacao)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Cream Cheese Glaze Ingredients:
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 3 tablespoons milk as
mini chocolate chips for sprinkling
Note: In recipes that call for hunks of rising/resting time like this one, I like to draw out my schedule with different size boxes representing “hands on” and “hands off” prep time to get a visual feel for how long it will take. If you’re a visual person like me, drawing out your schedule is a great technique to try! Otherwise, a good old fashion list of what you’re doing at what time would also be beneficial.
Make bread starter: Dissolve the yeast in the 100-110 degree water for about 10 minutes. Completely mix in the flour. Cover the bowl loosely and leave it at room temperature to proof for around 6 hours.
Make red velvet yeast bread: Mix the cocoa powder, red food coloring, and 1 tablespoon water into a paste in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, mix together the paste, flour, 1/3 cup sugar, yeast, water, and 1/4 cup of your bread starter (save the rest to use for other recipes). Let this mixture rest for 15 minutes.
Knead in the salt and butter and then knead for about 10 minutes by hand or about 4 minutes on a mixer fitted with a dough hook, or until smooth and elastic. Scoop dough out into a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a dish cloth. Let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Leave the dough in the bowl at this point but fold it in thirds like you’d fold a letter. Recover it and let it rest for 30 more minutes.
Shape and bake pull-apart bread: Prepare two 7″x 3″ x2″ loaf pans by greasing them (I use Wilton’s Cake Release, but you could also butter and flour them). Flour a large work surface. Use a dough scraper or sharp knife to help you cut your dough into halves. Turn out half of the dough onto your floured surface, keeping the other half covered.
Roll your dough out to a 15 inch long and 12 inch wide rectangle, lifting corners periodically to make sure it’s not sticking. If it seems to be snapping back, cover it with your damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing.
Spread the melted butter over the surface of the dough with a pastry brush and then sprinkle the sugar and chocolate chips over the top, patting them down to ensure they mostly stick. Some will inevitably fall out as you do the following steps — just stuff ‘em back in and don’t worry too much about perfection.
With the long edge of the rectangle toward you, cut it into 6 strips (do this by cutting the rectangle in half, then cutting each half into equal thirds. I used a pizza cutter). Stack these strips on top of one another and cut the resulting stack into 6 even portions (again, cut it in half, and then cut the halves into equal thirds). Place these portions one at a time into your greased loaf pan, pressing them up against each other to fit them all in. Cover the pan with your damp cloth and place it in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour to double in size. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the second half of dough.
While the dough rises, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 if you have a glass loaf dish instead of a metal pan). When it’s risen, place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until dark on top (if you take it out at light brown, it’s liable to be raw in the middle, so let it get good and dark). Cool until just warm on a cooling rack in the loaf pan while you make the glaze.
Make the cream cheese glaze: Beat the cream cheese until fluffy, and then add sugar and vanilla. Add the milk to thin it to drizzling consistency. Drizzle some of the glaze over the slightly warm bread (save the rest for drizzling over individual slices) and sprinkle it with mini chocolate chips. Serve immediately.