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nosh friday: chocolate-cherry bread

May 2, 2010

[Pretending it’s Friday, sssshhhhhh.]

As I stirred together this bread and let it rise and do its yeasty business, I will admit — I was pretty sure this would be a defeated entry with a photo of flat bread. When I lifted up the towel after two hours of “rising,” it looked the same to me.

However, when I am wrong, I am wrong.
And I was wrong.

This recipe comes from David Lebovitz — I tweaked it a wee bit by adding dried cherries instead of nuts and the results are certainly tasty. I love the chewiness of the cherries with the soft, husky dark chocolate of the bread. Nuts would be good too (particularly toasted almonds, pecans or hazelnuts). It’s up to you and your imagination. The next time, I might let the yeast, sugar and milk play together a little longer or wrap the bowl in a warm towel while it rises. However, on my first attempt, I must say I did better than I expected — a happy surprise!

Chocolate Bread
(from David Lebovitz)

3/4 cup (180 ml) whole or low-fat milk, heated until just tepid
1 envelope active dry yeast (1/4 ounce, or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
6 tablespoons (75 g) sugar
4 tablespoons (55 g) butter, salted or unsalted
3 ounces (85 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder (optional)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups (280 g) bread flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces, 90 g) chocolate chips or coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup (70 g) toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Add one tablespoon (11 g) sugar, then set aside in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbles form on the surface.

2. While the yeast is activating, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.

3. Once the yeast mixture is frothy, mix in the remaining sugar, the instant coffee (if using), the egg, vanilla, and sea salt.

4. Stir in half the flour and cocoa powder, then the melted butter and chocolate, then the remaining flour mixture, stirring until well-incorporated. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and beat for five minutes, until smooth. If making by hand, mix vigorously with a flexible spatula for the same amount of time. The dough will seem quite moist, resembling sticky brownie batter when ready.

5. Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

6. Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) loaf pan.

7. Stir in the chopped chocolate and nuts, if using. Then use a spatula to fold the dough over on itself in the bowl for about thirty seconds, then transfer it to the buttered pan, pressing a bit to spread it to the corners. Let rise in a warm place for one hour.

8. Ten minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC.)

9. Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, until it feels done and sounds hollow when you tap it. You can stick an instant-read thermometer in the bottom if you’re unsure; the bread is done when the temperature reads 180ºF (82Cº).

I can’t wait to have some of this with a big cup of coffee. I just ate a slice (well, I AM watching “Chocolat”…can’t do that without chocolate) and it was heavenly. Bon appetit!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    May 3, 2010 12:26 pm

    oh. my. gosh. YUM

  2. Caroline permalink*
    May 3, 2010 1:02 pm

    @ Amanda!

    Trust me, it was all I could do not to eat the whole loaf. So I brought pieces to work to give away.

    It’s surprisingly soft but not too rich. I used dark cocoa powder and 60% cacao chocolate and it gave the bread the most amazing dark, smoky aroma. I would definitely recommend this recipe (though I need to work on creating a warm environment for things to rise).

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