Yeah, yeah, yah. I know I’m supposed to eat more whole wheat, whole grain, whole lotta fiber-fabulous bread.
But can you blame me for choosing this “Double Chocolate-Honey Bread” instead?
After all, it’s got all the best characteristics of your favorite artisan loaf — but with cocoa powder suffused throughout, and big chunks of gooey deep, dark chocolate hidden inside.
The recipe is from the new “Kneadlessly Simple” (Wiley) by veteran cookbook author Nancy Baggett.
It’s a bread book all about making loaves using the slow-rise, no-knead method that’s all the rage now.
To be honest, I haven’t been all that tempted by this new trend. So ya don’t have to get your hands dirty by kneading dough. Instead you have to figure out what exact time to stick the dough in the refrigerator, when to take it out for the first rise, then when to put it in a pan for the second rise, and lastly, when precisely it’s ready to go into the oven. Advanced calculus was easier than this.
When it comes to chocolate baked goods, though, I’ll go to great lengths. So for this chocolate bread, I was willing to give it a go. And the results were so extraordinary, I’d gladly put myself through these timing gymnastics again.
This is definitely not a cake, even if from the outside it might resemble a tea loaf of sorts. There’s no delicate, tender crumb here. This is honest-to-goodness bread with a sugary, crisp hard crust and a dense, yet soft interior that’s shot through and through with chocolate. If you like the French tradition of nibbling on a baguette topped with a piece of good dark chocolate, you’ll find this bread a pure slice of heaven.
I used Valhrhona Noir 68 percent, which I chopped up into rough chunks to mix into the dough. You can top the cake with an optional rich glossy chocolate drizzle, if you fancy even more chocolate.
I don’t know if this bread qualifies as breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. But really, do you need a precise time to enjoy it? I sure don’t.
Double Chocolate-Honey Bread
(Yields 1 large loaf)
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour, plus more as needed
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process, sifted after measuring
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
Generous 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
3/4 teaspoon instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
1/2 cup clover honey or other mild honey
1/4 cup corn oil, canola oil, or other flavorless vegetable oil, plus extra for coating dough top and baking pan
1 3/4 cups ice water, plus more if needed
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
Glossy Chocolate Drizzle (recipe follows)
First Rise: In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together flour, cocoa, 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, salt, and yeast. In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk honey and oil into water. Thoroughly stir mixture and chocolate morsels into the bowl with the flour, scraping down sides and mixing until well blended. If too dry to mix together, add just enough more water to facilitate mixing, but don’t over-moisten, as the dough should be stiff. If necessary, stir in enough more flour to stiffen it. Brush or spray top with oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. If desired, for best flavor or for convenience, you can refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours. Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.
Second Rise: Vigorously stir dough. Using an oiled rubber spatula, fold dough in towards center all the way around (this organizes the gluten for shaping the dough into a loaf). Invert it out into a very well-greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. evenly brush or spray top with oil. Smooth dough and evenly press into pan with an oiled rubber spatula or fingertips. Cover pan with nonstick-spray-coated plastic wrap.
Let Rise Using Any of These Methods: For a 1- to 2-hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature; for a 1/2- to 1 1/2-hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup boiling-hot water; or for an extended rise, refrigerate, covered, for 4 to 48 hours, then set out at room temperature. When the dough nears the plastic, remove it and continue the rise until dough reaches the pan rim or doubles from its deflated size.
Baking Preliminaries: 15 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lower third of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Baking: Sprinkle the loaf top evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake on the lower rack for 40 minutes, or until loaf is well browned. Cover top with foil and continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes, occasionally testing with a skewer inserted in the thickest part. When it comes out with just slighly moist particles clinging to the bottom portion (or until the center registers 204 to 206 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), bake for 5 minutes more to ensure center is done. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 15minutes. Loosen loaf with a knife, then place on the rack. Cool thoroughly. Garnish cooled loaf with Glossy Chocolate Drizzle, if desired.
Serving and Storing: Serve warm, or cool, or toasted; the bread slices best when cool. Cool thoroughly before storing in plastic or foil. Keeps at room temperature for 3 days. May be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months.
Glossy Chocolate Drizzle
(Makes enough to accent 1 large coffeecake)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more if needed
1 1/2 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons hot water or fresh hot coffee
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 ounce (about 3 1/2 tablespoons) finely chopped unsweetened or ultra-bittersweet chocolate
Sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a small, heavy saucepan. Stir in water and corn syrup, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute; immediately remove from heat. Place chocolate in a small, deep bowl and pour cocoa mixture over it; don’t stir. Let mixture stand for 3 to 4 minutes, until heat melts the chocolate. Stir until completely smooth, then let cool to warm; it will gradually thicken and develop a drizzling consistency as it stands.
If it stiffens too much, thoroughly stir in a little warm water. Drizzle the warm mixture decoratively over coffeecake or bread. Then let stand until completely cooled. The glaze will set up glossy and will firm up in about an hour.
From “Kneadlessly Simple”