Happy New Year everyone. A very belated one but still sincere. I have taken some time off from blogging over the holidays so I can enjoy myself and live in the moment. My little girl and I were lucky enough to once again go to New York for 6 weeks to be with my mom for Christmas. This year was filled with many bonuses. Two of my sisters came home to spend Christmas with us as well ; it’s been 20+ years since any of my sisters spent Christmas morning with us. My sister Stacey brought her husband and 3 kids with her (it’s been 4 years since I have seen my beloved nephews and niece). Then 2 days before Christmas my husband calls to say he is flying in on x-mas eve, courtesy of his good brother! While my oldest sister flew back to Atlanta the day after Christmas, her daughter, who now lives in Toronto, called on the 30th to say she was driving down to spend New Years Eve with us. With her husband (who I had never met) and her new 6 month old baby boy! Seriously, when they talk about spending time with your loved ones during the holidays, this is what they meant. What a treat for us all.
While I baked up some 16 varieties of cookies, 12 panettone, 4 cakes for church coffee hour, 2 birthday cakes, 2 stollen, and a buche de noel (whew!), I did not make time to write about it. It takes me hours to get a post up. I don’t know how people can post everyday. Truly I don’t. I’m lucky if I do 2 or 3 a month. Or on this case, none. Maybe there is some secret I don’t know about…
Anyway, I have been back in Calgary for a week now and already have loaded myself up with new cookbooks to look at. One of them is “The New Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. This is a revised edition (30 new recipes) of their bestseller Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day and is perfect for anyone who is a.) afraid of baking bread, b.) doesn’t own a stand mixer, or c.) loves bread. Much to my delight, I then saw that Jamie of Life’s a Feast picked a recipe from this very book for the Bread Baking Babes. Being a bread buddy is a delight of mine so I started right away with giving this a go since I had some chopped prunes already in the closet. An overnight soak in brandy helped (doesn’t it always?) deepen their complex flavor.
I still don’t understand how the gluten develops without any kneading, but who am I to question this apparently successful method. The dough is high hydration, almost more cake batter like when you mix it up, which is why it can stay in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, making it possible to have fresh-baked bread within a 2 hours notice. That is, as long as you have some dough in the fridge. The only downside I see to this book is that you have to prepare the dough in advance at least the day before. I still love the traditional way of baking though, there is something so organic about kneading, proofing, shaping, waiting some more and then baking. Or feeding your sourdough starter that’s been sitting on the counter and lovingly been attended to for months (or years). That being said, this is pretty darn cool, and easy. I will be trying a few more recipes from this book just to confirm this. Poor me, having to eat fresh bread….
So, on to this very interesting bread. It is bread, as in real bread, not like banana bread, which is cake-like. It is also deep and dark in flavor, thanks to dark cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate, but it is not sweet. Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea (I tried both). I made three versions, one with prunes, one with dried cherries and hazelnuts and the last with just toasted hazelnuts. And more chocolate, of course, since bittersweet chocolate is good for you. so get your mixing bowls out and Bake On!
CHOCOLATE BREAD RECIPE (Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread)
Makes two 2-pound loaves. This recipe is easily doubled or halved.
2 ½ cups (565 ml) lukewarm water (100°F or below)
¾ cup (170 ml) vegetable oil
1 Tbs (0.35 oz / 10 g) granulated yeast
1 to 1 ½ Tbs (17 to 25 g) kosher salt – * use less if using fine table salt, more if using coarse salt
1 cup (7 ounces / 200 g) sugar
5 ½ cups (1 pound, 11 ½ ounces / 780 g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (3 ounces / 85 g) dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups (6 ounces / 170 g) bittersweet or sweet chocolate chips
Mixing and storing the dough:
Mix the oil, yeast, salt and sugar with the water in a 6-quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and the chocolate chips without kneading, using a spoon or heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). If you are not using the machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle with cold. Refrigerate the container of dough and use over the next 5 days. Beyond the 5 days, freeze the dough in 1-pound (about 450 g) portions in airtight containers for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise time.
Chocolate Prune Bread:
Makes one 1 ½ pound loaf
1 ½ pounds (about 680 g – the size of a small cantaloupe) of the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread dough
Softened unsalted butter for greasing the pan
2 ounces (55 g) high-quality bittersweet chocolate – * use 6 ounces (170 g) if you did not add chocolate chips to the original Chocolate Bread Dough
¾ cup chopped pitted prunes
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbls water)
¼ cup (50 g) sugar for sprinkling over the top of the bread and preparing the pan
On baking day, generously grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ – inch (22 x 11 ½ cm approx) nonstick loaf pan with butter, sprinkle some sugar evenly over the butter and shake the pan to distribute. Besides making a regular loaf pan I also used 3 medium-sized panettone papers.
Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 ½ pound piece (for the smaller loaves I used 12 ounce pieces) Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a ½ – inch-thick (scant 1 ½ cm) rectangle. As you roll out the dough, use enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface but not so much as to make the dough dry.
Sprinkle the chocolate and chopped prunes over the dough and roll up the dough jelly roll style to enclose them. Fold the dough over itself several times, turning and pressing it down with the heel of your hand after each turn. This will work the chocolate and prunes into the dough; some may poke through.
With very wet hands (I floured my hands instead), form the dough into a loaf shape and place it into the prepared pan. Allow to rest and rise for 90 minutes, loosely covered with plastic wrap
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). A baking stone is not required and omitting it shortens the preheat.
Using a pastry brush, paint the top of the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (I used Swedish pearl sugar) . Bake the loaf in the center of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes until firm. Smaller or larger loaves with require adjustments to baking time.
Remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool on a rack before slicing and eating. Enjoy!
Bake My Day – Karen
Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
girlichef – Heather
Lucullian Delights – Ilva
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien