I've been having the biggest craving for chocolate bread for quite a while. And not just any chocolate bread. Specifically, a yeasted, not-too-sweet chocolate bread with a tender, fine crumb and a very dark-chocolate taste. I'm not really sure why, because I don't think I'd ever had a bread like this before. But, you know, cravings are your body's way of telling you what it needs (ha!), and they are not to be ignored. Especially not when they are for delicious things like chocolate. So chocolate bread it would be.
Of course I couldn't find a recipe for the bread I wanted. I did find one that looked somewhat close, a recipe for Balthazar's chocolate bread. So my recipe is a very loose interpretation of their recipe.
And it was really, really good.
This is a slow rise bread, which gives it a really great, almost brioche-like texture. But please don't let that scare you! It really isn't any more difficult than an ordinary bread. I promise.
Oh, and if the mention of "chocolate" wasn't enough to convince you...this tasted really, really chocolatey, and as far as chocolate goes, it was actually pretty innocent calorie-wise. And you can let it rise in the fridge over night, and just pop in in the oven when you wake up in the morning. Thirty minutes later you'll be enjoying a piece of warm, tender chocolate bread, studded with little pockets of melted chocolate. Yum.
Ok, enough with this restaurant-menu description stuff. Get cooking!
(Oh, and it really is important to use good quality chocolate, and for the chocolate to be chopped, not in chip form! )
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/8th tsp yeast
Mix all ingredients and let them sit at room temperature for 6 hours. The mixture should be bubbly and have expanded somewhat.
approx. 2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
6 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
scant 1 cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp margerine, cut into small pieces
4 oz. 70% chocolate, chopped
optional: 1/2 cup dried cranberries or diced dried apricots
turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top of the bread
Dissolve the yeast in the water. Put the starter and all dry ingredients through salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast water and begin to knead, either in the bowl if it's large enough or on a board lightly dusted with flour. Sprinkle on the margarine pieces, and knead them in. Knead for 10 minutes. Just before the dough is done, sprinkle on the chocolate chunks (and dried fruit, if using) and knead them into the dough.
Cover the dough with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for until doubled in size, about 3 hours.
Now shape the bread. Line a baking sheet with parchement. Gently punch down the dough and cut it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth, round roll. Place the rolls into the pan. It's fine if they are touching a bit.
You could also bake this as a boule, or you could bake it in two small, greased loaf pans.
At this point you can either let the dough rise for 2 hours at room temperature, or you can cover it and let it rise in the fridge over night. Just let it sit out at room temperature while the oven preheats the next morning if you do that.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Brush the dough with soy milk and and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Bake until the bread has a slightly hollow sound when you tap tops with your finger, 40-45 minutes. Turn the bread out of the pan, and put it on a wire rack; let cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic and store up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month