I recently did an inventory of the different flours in my pantry. I have eight different types – some fresh, some not so much. Before the holiday baking begins in earnest, I wanted to use up my older flour. Ideally, flour – especially whole wheat flour – should be kept in the freezer. I don’t have that much space, however, so it ages faster.
For this recipe I didn’t use whole wheat flour. I had the hankering to make bread with chocolate in it, so I went hunting for ideas. I found one, posted on a baking message board. For my bread, I changed the ingredients and method slightly.
This bread is slightly sweet, but it isn’t a dessert bread, per se. The bread gets its chocolate flavor from unsweetened cocoa powder. The next time I make it, I think I’ll add some dried sour cherries. I’m also going to try turning it into french toast.
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 4 cups (17 ounces) bread flour
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup sour cherries, diced (optional)
Step 3. Add the beaten eggs and the melted butter and milk to the dry ingredients, then knead until smooth, soft and supple, about 7 minutes. Two-thirds of the way through the kneading process, add the sour cherries if using. Transfer to another bowl brushed with vegetable oil and let rise for 90 minutes.
Step 5. Roll the dough balls into long strands, 18-24 inches long. This dough is really fun to work with – it easily stretches out. Prepare for braiding and shaping the loaf by laying out a sheet of parchment paper.
To braid, press the four strands together, then gather two strands to the left and two to the right. Take the outer-left strand and place it on the inner-right side. Then take the outer-right strand and place it on the inner left. Repeat until the loaf is completely braided. Press the ends of the strands together at the base of the loaf, then tuck them underneath. Do the same at the top of the loaf.
Step 6. Let rise for 1 hour, preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Before baking, Brush with water and sprinkle with sugar. (Note: I brushed with egg white and the sugar crust didn’t look nearly as nice, especially against the bread’s dark background.)
Bake for 30 minutes, then cool for at least an hour before slicing.