Chocolate Cherry Bread

Believe it or not, this is not sweet chocolate cherry bread. It would be fantastic with grilled or smoked chicken or ham and honey mustard sandwiches with bread and butter pickles.

Chocolate cherry bread also makes great breakfast.

I have been perfecting a no-knead formula. Trying out different things, discovering what the dough can and can’t do has led to some interesting discoveries, such as this variation.

1. Replace 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup special dark cocoa

2. Hydrate 1 cup tart cherries,drain, fold the cherries into the bread after the first rise.

I mixed 1 tablespoon of cocoa into the flour used on the board when folding in the cherries. I did not line the rising baskets with cocoa, just flour.

If I keep making this, I’ll invest in some heavy linen cloth to line the baskets so the cloths will get stained from chocolate, not the baskets.

Recipe for Chocolate Cherry Bread

Makes 2 large loaves

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, soaked in warm water at least 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar, if desired

For handling dough: Mix 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder into 1 cup of bread flour. Use this to dust the rolling surface and any sticky parts of the dough as you shape the loaves.

Combine salt, flour and cocoa powder in a large bowl

Mix the dry ingredients together before adding the wet ingredients

Combine the flour, cocoa, salt in a large bowl, stir to combine.

Warm water to 110°F sprinkle yeast on top and let bubble for 5 minutes. (This ensures the yeast is active)

Whisk the yeast and water together and pour over the flour mixture, fold until all liquid is absorbed and all flour is incorporated.

Pour in the wet ingredients and mix until everything is incorporated; form into a ball on the bottom of the bowl. Let rise for 2 hours or double in size.

Doubled in size

Form into a ball in the bottom of the bowl, cover with an oiled piece of cellophane wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size. This usually takes 2 hours.

Remove and sprinkle the top of the dough with cocoa/flour mixture, scrape to deflate and separate into equal balls of dough.

on a well floured surface, flatten one ball into a rectangle, sprinkle with hydrated cherries and cinnamon sugar if using, fold in thirds, sprinkle more cherries and cinnamon sugar, fold in half. Flatten the dough into another rectangle and roll into a log.

Pre-heat your oven to 450°F for 15 minutes before the bread is ready to bake.

Slash the loaves and place them into the hot oven for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reached a minimum of 190°F. Steaming is optional, if you want a crispy crust, steam is recommended. See how to add steam by reading the No Knead Bread post for a full description of baking off the loaves at home.

Shape into a log or ball; let rise for 1 hour or nearly double

As I mentioned before, this bread isn’t sweet. Even if you add the cinnamon sugar, the cinnamon adds to the complex flavor of the cocoa and the cherries. Simply divine for a smoked ham or turkey sandwich with whole grain mustard, lettuce and tomato.

Light lunch

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“Charlotte Cooks” Bread

In January, we filmed an episode of “Charlotte Cooks” about making no knead bread. The episode was released and began airing on TV and You Tube on April 2.

The comedy of errors that went with the taping, I think, were glaringly obvious. The process made me think this is how Lucy Ricardo would have made bread. In spite of the dough getting out of hand, she would have continued on, so I did too.

To shoot the episode, I had to have bowls of dough in various stages in order to shoot continuously. The camera crew was not prepared to step up the pace we normally shoot. The idea was to keep one step ahead of the rising dough. Russ had to keep telling me to slow down. Guess I was trying to keep pace with the dough rising.

I had 5 bowls on dough going at various stages, all while trying to talk about the different stages and move them along to the next for a supposedly seamless show. I gave up on seamless.

The loaf you see me plop on the baking stone turned out the size of a small car and looked and tasted fantastic. That loaf finished baking after we finished shooting so we didn’t get shots of it. With all the different loaves and bowls around, maybe it wasn’t clear as to which one to shoot, but we shot everything. I think there were around 17 loaves finished for the set that day. (Thank God for commercial steam ovens.)

As you watch the episode you will see, by the bowl of dough that gets plopped into the oven, the dough had a mind of its own. Things got to a point where everything was comical; flour everywhere, dough spilling over the sides of the bowl and the oven at 450°F in addition to the camera lights. So the room was perfect for rising dough quickly.

I didn’t think we had enough good material to actually put together a show but Russ, the main man on the show, did a great job. I love my camera crew!

Setting the set for filming

The Main Man, Russ

You can read my post and get the recipe for No Knead Bread here. Yeah, you can cut it half and make a single loaf, but then you wouldn’t have the fun playing with 2 balls of dough.

If you want to make the Chocolate Cherry Bread, reduce the flour by 1/2 cup, add 1/2 cup dark cocoa. Just as you use raisins, substitute dried cherries and put 1/2-1 cup of dark chocolate chips in the flour. Everything else is the same!

Watch the next 20 minutes and let me know what you think.

No Knead Bread

As far as bread making goes this if fast, tasty, chewy bread with a crispy crust. This method creates a wonderful artisan loaf.

Best of all, this no-knead method does not require the use of a cast iron dutch oven or 18 hours of proofing time!

Use this tool or a razor blade to slash the dough

For best results it is highly recommended you have a pizza stone  for baking your bread on and a pizza peel for getting the bread in and out of the oven. Also, you will need a broiler pan (something sturdy that won’t warp in high heat) for adding water to create the steam that makes the crust crispy and a razor blade or bakers peel for slashing the dough. You can find both the pizza stone and the peel for less than $20.00 total, even less if you are a clever shopper. (Hint: check out Target.)

Are you ready? Grab the flour and let’s get cooking!

No Knead Bread

      • 3 cups water 100°F
      • 1 tablespoon yeast
      • 1/2 cup sour dough starter (or 1 additional tablespoon of yeast for a total of 2  tablespoons)
      • 4 1/2 cups King Arthur AP or bread flour (use any brand you like)
      • 2 cups whole wheat flour
      • 2 tablespoons non-iodized salt (kosher, sea, etc)

Mix the starter and yeast with the water. Allow this to sit and bubble while you measure the remaining ingredients.

Measure the flours and salt into a large bowl.

Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast, starter and water mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix it all together.

Cover the bowl with an oiled piece of plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for the next two hours. If your home is chilly, use the oven on a proof setting or set at 100°F. A gas oven with a pilot light is often enough warmth to proof the bread.

Risen Dough

The dough should double in size. Depending on how warm your proofing area is, this may take longer or shorter time than 2 hours.

Now here is where it gets tricky.

The dough is very wet and sticky. You do not want to handle it very much.

Heavily flour your working station and your hands.

Remove 1/2 of the dough from the proofing bowl and place on the flour.

Flour the work station

Shaped Boule

Shaped Loaf

Cover any sticky spots with flour so the surface feels smooth and not sticky. Using a well floured rolling-pin, work the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

Fold the left edge over 2/3’s of the bread, fold the right edge over the folded left side. You should have three layers. Turn the bread 1/4 turn, roll and repeat 4 times.

Lastly, roll into a rectangle. Take the edge closest to you and begin rolling the dough into a cylinder.

Peel with a good layer of cornmeal

Place a good layer of corn meal on the surface of the pizza peel; place the loaf on the peel, near the edge so the dough does not have a long way to slide when placing into the oven.

Shape and cover with towel to rise

Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for about an hour.

In the meantime, while the oven is cold, place the pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven. Place the broiler pan on the bottom shelf and remove the top shelf. You want the bread to have plenty of room to rise!

Pre-heat the oven to 450°F. The oven needs to heat for 30 minutes at 450°F before baking. This ensures the temp is good and hot which is necessary for great ‘oven spring’.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in something it is easy to pour,  like a kettle.

Once the oven has heated for 30 minutes and the dough has been rising for an hour, and the water is boiling, it is time to bake the bread.

Now, you are going to look at it and say it is floppy and loose and not going to work. Trust me, just go through the process, be patient!

You have to work quickly here. Decide what you are going to do and do it!

Take the peel with the bread on it; remove the towel. Using a razor blade or bakers peel, make 3-4 deep slashes across the top of the bread. This prevents the bread from breaking while it expands in the oven.

Open the oven door and with a quick firm motion slide the bread to the baking stone from the peel. A quick forward back movement is all it takes as long as you have enough corn meal on the peel.

Hint: Once the bread hits the stone, don’t move it.

Quickly close the door.

Put oven mitts on your hands to prevent steam burns. Take the kettle of boiling water; open the oven door, pull the broiler pan out enough to easily pour the water into the pan. CAREFUL, it steams! Fill the bottom of the broiler pan by 1/2 inch. Quickly close the oven door so as not to let all the steam escape.

The steam is what creates the crispy crust. Commercial bread ovens have “with steam” options, home ovens do not.

There are several theories as to how to add steam in the home kitchen.

One will tell you to spray the bread with water while it is cooking.

Folks, if you spray cold or warm water on a 450°F light bulb in the oven, it will burst.
Same with your baking stone: CRACK! So this is not a good method.

Another is to brush the loaves with water just before putting them into the oven.

This dough is already wet. Additional moisture would hinder a smooth slide from the peel to the stone.
Besides the dough is so tender that brushing it at all would collapse whatever has risen.
Slashing is all it can take.

The broiler pan method is most useful.

It does not endanger the stone or bulb.
Just protect yourself from a nasty steam burn.

After you have added the water and started to create the steam, close the door quickly then set the timer for 15 minutes.

Make sure you have more boiling water at the 15 minute mark; open the door and add more water for more steam.

Note the color and the rise on the bread! The amount the bread rises once it hits the heat is referred to as “oven spring” and this bread formula has great oven spring. Yay!

In about 10 more minutes, remove the bread from the oven and take its temperature.  When the bread reaches 190°F the bread is done. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack until it is cool.

Slice and enjoy!

Loaves and Boules No Knead Bread

No Knead Loaf

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