Sunday, May 3, 2009
It began as a reverie which featured chocolate bread in many guises. First there was French toast, then bread pudding and, finally, a stray slice waiting for a smear of hazelnut spread. Cinnamon toast and chocolate bread were the snack du jour of my childhood. They disappeared as wartime rationing ended and the economy improved, but you've missed a slice of Americana if you've never tried them. Cinnamon toast is easy to recreate, but I haven't seen chocolate bread in years. I decided to make my own. The bread of my childhood wasn't sweet. It was yeasty with a chocolaty flavor that came from unsweetened cocoa powder. It looked like a loaf of whole wheat bread, but it had a vague taste of chocolate that was especially pronounced in its crust. On special occasions grated chocolate would be added to the dry ingredients and the dough would be rolled into a rectangle and sprinkled with more chocolate before being formed into a loaf. My plan was to make the simplest version of the recipe. I had a vague recollection of the enhanced bread being sticky and difficult to work and I didn't want to spoil my remembrance of things past. I used a beginners bread recipe and added good cocoa powder to it. The next time I make this I'll use coffee as the liquid to give the bread better color. This is a simple recipe that would be great for beginning bread bakers. We've just had it "buttered" with hazelnut spread and plan to use what's left for a chocolate bread pudding. Here's the recipe for those of you who are tempted to give it a try.
4 cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups warm water
1) Place flour, cocoa, salt and yeast if a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine ingredients.
2) Pour in warm water and oil. Mix with a wooden spoon to form a dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. An electric mixer with a dough hook can also be used. If using an electric mixer, mix at medium speed until dough leaves sides of bowl and begins to climb the hook.
3) Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat both sides. Cover, let rise until double in volume, about 1 hour.
4) Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a loaf. Place in a lightly greased 2-quart bread pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
5) While dough completes final rise, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake risen loaf for 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 1 loaf.
I'm sending this recipe to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeast Spotting event.