This Italian Angelica Cake or Torta in Italian, is not only delicious it is also beautiful. The perfect soft brioche bread full of chocolate chips perfect for the holidays. A special occasion sweet bread.
This gorgeous bread would make the perfect Christmas morning treat or even dessert. This year I plan on serving my Fresh Cream Vanilla Cake and of course it wouldn’t be Christmas with an Old Fashioned Gingerbread Cake.
Yes i am back to bread making, and there is nothing better than a soft brioche bread full of chocolate chips to make everyone happy.
I discovered this Italian holiday sweet bread, Angelica Torta in a recently purchased cookbook, Sorelle Simili – Pane e Roba Dolce.
I knew i had to give it a go as soon as i saw it. And I knew I had to share it as soon as we tasted it.
It may look elaborate and difficult but it isn’t. I hope my step by step photos will be really helpful for you. Happy Baking!
For the biga
- Honey – or granulated sugar (same amount)
- Flour – all purpose flour
- Yeast – active dry yeast
- Flour – all purpose flour
- Milk – I use 2% or whole milk
- Egg yolks – large egg yolks
- Sugar – granulated sugar
- Butter – softened butter
- Butter – melted
- Chocolate chips – unsweetened or milk, regular or mini chocolate chips
- Powdered sugar – also known as icing or confectioners’ sugar
- Vanilla – vanilla extract
- Milk or cream – I prefer cream
How to make the Angelica Cake
- Making the Biga – In a small bowl add the flour, yeast and water, mix together.
- Knead into a compact ball.
- Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic and a clean tea towel and let rise in a warm draft free area for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
- Second Knead – In the bowl of the stand up mixer whisk the flour and salt together.
- Make a well in the middle and add the milk, egg yolks and sugar, start to knead with the dough hook.
- Once it is combined add the butter in pieces, knead between additions until completely combined.
- Then add the biga a little at a time and knead between additions until completely combined.
- Knead for about three minutes.
- Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm draft free area for 2-3 hours.
- Final Knead – Roll the dough to a rectangle, brush with melted butter and then sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.
- Tightly roll the dough up lengthwise.
- Slice the roll down the middle lengthwise in two ropes with a very sharp knife.
- Then crisscross the two ropes one over the other like a braid, form into a circle and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
- Cover and let rise 1 hour.
- Brush lightly with an egg wash and bake for approximately 25-35 minutes.
- Let the cake cool then drizzle with the vanilla glaze before serving.
What is a Biga?
You may think that a Poolish and a Biga are the same, but the main difference is that a Poolish is a liquid dough and a Biga is a solid dough.
A Biga is a type of rise used in Italian baking. Many popular Italian breads, including a ciabatta and Pandoro, are made using a Biga.
The addition of a Biga is said to add more flavour to the finished product and is also used in breads that need a light, open texture with holes.
What to use instead of mini chocolate chips
In Italy besides using mini chocolate chips people love to use candied fruit, raisins or even nuts. A mixture of chopped nuts and chips would be delicious.
Tips for making the best brioche bread
- If the yeast is old or you think it may not be good any longer test it. Sprinkle a teaspoon of yeast and a pinch of sugar over the top of a half cup of water, stir it, then let it stand for about 3-4 minutes. If the yeast is still good, it will dissolve completely into the water and the liquid will start bubbling.
- Make sure the temperature of the water is not too hot or too cold, the correct temperature should be between 100-110F.
- Be sure to lightly oil the bowl before adding the dough and roll the dough in the bowl to lightly cover the top, this prevents the dough from crusting on top.
- Be sure to cover the dough and let it rise in a warm draft free area.
- Brioche bread is not hard to make just time consuming, make sure you have the time before you start.
- If the top of the bread is browning too much, then lightly cover it with foil and continue baking.
- Once the bread is baked move immediately to a wire rack to cool.
How to know when the Angelica Cake is done
It should sound hollow when tapped, and the temperature at the centre of the braid will read 190°F (375C) when using an instant-read thermometer.
How to store the bread
The baked cooled bread should be stored tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature. It will last up to three days.
Can you freeze it?
The cooled bread can be frozen. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe bag. It will keep for up to two months. I would recommend freezing it without the glaze.
More Delicious Italian Cakes to enjoy
This delicious sweet bread would make the perfect Christmas morning breakfast or even a stunning dessert. Let me know if you give this Angelica Cake a try. Enjoy!
Italian Angelica Cake / Torta
- stand up mixer with dough hook
- large cookie sheet
FOR THE BIGA
- 2 1/2 tablespoons lukewarm water
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour (73 grams)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
FOR THE SWEET DOUGH
- 1 1/2 cups +2 tablespoons all purpose flour (210 grams)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk* (60 grams)
- 2 large egg yolks*
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup butter softened (52 grams)
*Remove from fridge 45-60 minutes before using.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter melted
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (135 grams)
- 1 cup powdered / icing sugar (120 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons milk or cream
MAKING THE BIGA
- In a small bowl stir together the water and honey, then add the yeast and flour, mix together, then move the mixture to a flat surface and knead into a compact ball. Place in a small lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to lightly cover in the oil, cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel and let rise for one hour in a warm draft free area.
MAKING THE SWEET DOUGH
- In the bowl of the stand up mixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour and salt and whisk together, then make a well in the middle and add the milk, egg yolks and sugar, start to knead on low until combined. Then add the butter a little at a time, make sure the butter is combined before adding more. Knead for about 2-3 minutes until smooth and all the butter is incorporated.
- Add the Biga the same way a little at a time until completely combined, kneading again 3 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rise two to three hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Roll the dough into a 20 x 12 inch (52 x 33 cm) rectangle. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the chocolate chips.
- Tightly roll the dough up lengthwise, using a very sharp knife slice the roll down the middle lengthwise in two ropes. Then join the two ends at the top and criss cross the ropes into a braid. Form into a circle joining the remaining two ends (wet the ends with a little water to keep them together). Place the dough circle on a large parchment paper lined cookie sheet, cover and let rise one hour.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C).
- Brush the bread lightly with a little milk and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes. If the top is browning too much at the 18-20 minute mark then lightly cover with foil and continue baking. Once the cake is baked move immediately to a wire rack to cool. Let cool before drizzling with glaze. Enjoy!
- In a bowl combine the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk or cream. Whisk together until creamy. If too runny then add more sugar.