This is my twist on a very traditional Polish sweet loaf. It’s absolutely addictive and the aromas waft through the house when you’re preparing it. Change up any of the filling ingredients to make it your own. I’ve heard that many Polish families covet their recipes passed on from generation to generation. I know why – it’s hard to eat just one piece!
In a small bowl, combine warm milk and 2 tsp. sugar. Stir to blend. Sprinkle dry yeast on top and let foam 5 minutes.
In a bowl of mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, whole eggs and yolk, vanilla and orange zest. Add the foamed yeast mixture and work on medium speed until blended. Add 3 ½ cups of flour and salt and work dough on low speed until just incorporated, about 3 minutes. Change to the dough hook attachment. Add the soft butter and continue working dough for about 8 to 10 minutes on low speed until dough is stretchy but still sticky and all butter is blended.
Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead in the remaining ½ cup flour to the dough to a smooth consistency. The dough will still seem slightly sticky to the touch.
Transfer dough to a large buttered bowl. Cover. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.
Soak raisins in hot water until plump, about 15 minutes. Drain well.
In a small bowl stir together, the brown sugar, soaked raisins, rum, cinnamon and slivered almonds. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a tube pan.
Punch down dough and roll on a very lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 15-inchesx 17-inches, about ¼-inch thick. Make sure the long end is horizontal. Brush dough with soft butter. Sprinkle evenly with the raisin mixture. Lastly, sprinkle evenly with chopped chocolate.
Roll into cylinder, horizontally, rolling away from you and keeping a fairly tight grip. (This is to avoid large air pockets when the dough is rising.) Roll several times to the fasten edges. Transfer to a well-buttered tube pan or angel food cake pan. Fasten two ends of roll together and pinch to close.
Cover the dough. Let rise for about 30 minutes or until the dough has risen about 1-inch higher in pan. Brush bread with a little butter and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until top is nicely browned and puffed, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and cool completely on rack. Cut into 12 to 14 slices.