Friday, August 26, 2011
I hardly have any luck baking breads, which is why you hardly see any on my blog. Nine out of 10 times, it will be a disaster. As such, when I do bake breads at all, I tend to limit myself to the easiest, simplest recipes I can lay my hands on.
I was intrigued by this Chocolate Bread by David Lebovitz because it was a no-knead recipe. You only need to use a spatula and fold the dough over and over within a bowl. Hey, right up my alley! ;) It's not that I don't like kneading, it's just that I don't like the mess that comes with it. Anyway, everything went well all the way to the oven, and I thought to myself, "Yay! This might just be one of those odd occasions I'm actually gonna get it right."
Until I sliced it open. It was all ... cake. HUH?
I didn't think I did anything wrong, so I went back to that post and trawled the comments section. Then I realised it was meant to be that way. In David's own words (in his reply to someone): "It does not rise as much as traditional bread, I think because of all the chocolate in it. It should be ... somewhat like a yeasted cake."
Whew! All is not lost, and there is still hope for me.
But did I like it? Uh, no. I wanted bread. BREAD, people. I'm talking pull-apart, tear-away-as-you-eat BREAD. I wanted long, beautiful gluten strands. I wanted ... oh, nevermind.
My children, though, had no problems finishing it, especially the youngest, who demanded twice, "I want some more CAKE."
(from David Lebovitz)
- 3/4 cup (180ml) whole or low-fat milk, heated until just tepid
- 1 envelope active dry yeast (1/4 ounce, or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 6 tablespoons (75g) sugar
- 4 tablespoons (55g) butter, salted or unsalted
- 3 ounces (85g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 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 (280g) bread flour
- 1/4 cup (30g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces, 90g) chocolate chips or coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup (70g) 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 3 ounces (85 g) 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 (82ºC).