I used to love to bake bread, but I haven't done as much recently, probably because I live in the San Francisco Bay area. We have so many fabulous bakeries, that sometimes it's just easier to buy bread.
One bread that that I really liked to bake that is especially appropriate to this blog is Chocolate Cherry Sourdough. I still haven't been able to locate my recipe, but I have found several recipes on The Fresh Loaf, a great site for "News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts."
JMonkey's Blog February 11, 2007 has a great recipe for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Bread. Terrific photos and instructions. This recipe seems very close to the one I used to use. There are a few comments I'm unclear on, so my recommendation is to do what you usually do. I bake in a gas oven. I have three ovens: convection, gas, and electric, but for baking, I like the gas oven. I have an old O'Keefe & Merritt that I've refurbished, so it's pretty accurate on temperature.
This recipe for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Bread 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
.5 oz salt
Small amount of refreshed sourdough culture (adjust depending on taste/rising time preference)
8 ozs dark chocolate, broken into small bits
12 ozs dried tart cherries (I've used Trader Joe's)
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 so as 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.
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