Thursday, March 10, 2011

No-Knead Chocolate Bread

Makes 2 loaves
Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen

I couldn't help myself. When I read the recipe, it sounded so good. It's definitely a dessert, but it's not sweet. This has the exact texture of a thick, tender bread, but with the chocolate flavor. I have vowed to only make this once a year, otherwise, I'd end up with hips as wide as our couch. With spring coming on, I was thinking this would make a lovely offering for a tea with friends. The chocolate bread would also make a nice bread for a special breakfast. The recipe makes enough dough for two loaves, but I used one half of the dough for the bread you see here and the other half to make Chocolate Raspberry Rolls. Of course, I bought all the ingredients at my favorite community-owned grocery store, Lost River Market & Deli.

Special Equipment: 6-8 quart plastic container with a lid (If the container is airtight, drill three holes in the lid.); parchment paper; cookie sheet; plastic wrap; oil spray; cooling rack

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
½ cup unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups lukewarm water (about 100°F)
1 ½ Tablespoons yeast (2 packets)
1 ½ Tablespoons Kosher salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup honey
5 ½ cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method (plus more for sprinkling on baking day)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 egg plus 1 Tablespoon water for an egg wash on Baking Day

Making the Ganache:
Melt the 4 oz. of chocolate and the butter in a double-boiler or microwave until the chocolate is meted. Blend together and set aside.

Preparing the Dough:
Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, and honey with the water in the plastic container. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder, ganache and the 5 oz. of chocolate. Mix with a wooden spoon. You can finish mixing with really wet hands to make sure that all the flour is wet. Do not knead. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. Cover with the plastic container lid. Allow the mixture to rest at room temperature about 2 hours. Place the dough in the refrigerator overnight. The dough may be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. (Beyond 5 days, freeze the dough in 1 pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise time.)

On Baking Day:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle the parchment paper with flour. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with oil and set aside. Remove the plastic container from the fridge and take off the lid. Sprinkle the dough with flour. Pull out half the dough with floured hands. (Replace the lid and return the remaining dough to the refrigerator.) Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Resist the temptation to get rid of all the stickiness by adding too much flour.
Place the shaped dough onto a piece of parchment paper that has been sprinkled with flour. Cover the dough with the oiled plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 40 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and brush the dough with egg wash (1 egg plus 1 Tablespoon water) Place the bread in the center of the oven and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Place the bread on a cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing.

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