Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Homemade Bread Day: Dark Chocolate Cherry Levain


Monday was Homemade Bread Day, but I wasn't home. However, it's never too late to make homemade bread. I used to love to bake bread, but I haven't recently. I live in the San Francisco Bay area, and we have so many fabulous bakeries, it's just easier to buy it sometimes.

There was one bread that I really liked to bake that is especially appropriate to this blog: Chocolate Cherry Sourdough. I couldn't locate my recipe since it's been awhile, so I started looking on the Internet for something close. I found several recipes on The Fresh Loaf, a great site for "News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts." That would be me, and I hope you.

Here's JMonkey's Blog from February 11, 2007 for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Bread. Great recipe and terrific photos and instructions. This seems very close to the one I used to make. There are a few comments I'm unclear on, so my recommendation is do what you usually do. And, I should say I bake in a regular oven.

This recipe and blog elicited a lot of discussion on The Fresh Loaf, and I found another recipe, this time for a Dark Chocolate Tart Cherry Levain posted by unbreadman, December 2, 2007. These recipes complement each other, so have a look at both before you decide to try one.

Dark Chocolate Tart Cherry Levain
1.5 lbs Bread Flour (Golden Buffalo)
1lb 2ozs water
.5oz salt
Small amount of refreshed s.dough culture (adjust depending on taste/rising time preference)
8ozs dark chocolate, broken into small bits
12ozs dried tart cherries (if sugar is added, its okay. They will come out during soaking)

1) Soak cherries for at least 30 minutes to remove any added sugar and prevent burning
2) Mix flour, salt, and water until fully hydrated, let sit for 30 minutes (can do while cherries soak)
3) Cut up levain, add to dough with cherries, mix until fully distributed, knead to develop gluten, but be gentle not to destroy cherry integrity
4) Bulk ferment until approx 1.5x volume increase, folding once* halfway through.
*During fold, add chocolate bits in between each fold over. JMonkey's blog illustrates this well, here.
5) Very gently shape the loaf, trying not to puncture the future crust. While it's not tragic if it does happen, if there's a leak, chocolate can leak out and burn, and it might make you a little sad. But you'll be fine! It's okay!
6) Bake on a preheated stone with steam at 400-425F.
LET COOL BEFORE CUTTING. Molten Chocolate is very hot! It will burn if you, so it is imperative that you resist the nearly irresistable urge to eat this bread.
7) Devour. It will probably not last very long. Not because it won't keep. But because it's too tasty. Even if you mess up a bit.

Photo: "unbreadman" posted on The Fresh Loaf

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