Yeast Archives | Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah: A Guest Post for ‘Baking with Heritage’ at Food Wanderings

April 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Breads, Yeastspotting | 37 Comments
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A few months ago, Shulie, from the beautiful blog, Food Wanderings, asked me to write a post for her Baking with Heritage series.  I couldn’t have been more flattered, not to mention excited, since this would allow me to journey back to my childhood in my grandmother’s kitchen, where she taught me to make challah from an old family recipe.  This recipe was taught to her by her mother, who in turn learned it from her mother in Russia, who learned it from her mother in Russia. and so on and so forth. A precious family heirloom that is dear to my heart, and to me, the most perfect challah.

I rarely sway from this recipe, but in this case, my creative side overruled my traditional side, so this round, Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah Twist was born.

Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah

Before I link you to my post, along with the recipe, a few things I need to touch on, totally unrelated to challah, but I wanted to update you and failed to do so in my last post.

Continue Reading Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah: A Guest Post for ‘Baking with Heritage’ at Food Wanderings…

SRC-Three Cheese Broccoli Rabe, Prosciutto and Roasted Red Pepper Stromboli

September 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Posted in BBD, Breads, Dinner, Lunch, Pork, SRC, Twelve Loaves, Vegetables, Yeastspotting | 72 Comments
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One of my favorite sandwiches in the world is prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers or in Jersey Italian – prah-joot, mootz-ar-ell and peppuhs.  When I was perusing through my assigned blog, Paulchen’s Blog?!, for this month’s Secret Recipe Club..I struck stromboli, and the first thing I thought of was how perfect one of my favorite sandwiches in the world would be wrapped up and baked as a stromboli.  I kept wavering back and forth between the stromboli and these butterscotch brownies...because next to being a peanut butter freak..I’m a pretty heavy butterscotch user too.

In the end, I couldn’t stop thinking how melty and gooey would work well for this sandwich combination in a stromboli – so that was it, decision made.  BUT, as I thought it over, I wanted more cheese, another cheese, like provolone and definitely something green and garlicky to cut into all that rich, gooey cheese.  Oh, and why not top it with yet another cheese ?  Asiago, perhaps?  OK, now we’ve got three cheeses, roasted red peppers and prosciutto.  What about the green stuff?

Yes, I’m taking you through my actual thought process at the time.

I pondered it for a bit and then it came to me..broccoli rabe aka rapini!  The slightly bitter and earthy undertones would be ideal and cut the richness of the cheese..especially sauteed in a little garlic and oil.  I added some hot chili flakes to give it a kick..but that’s optional, since some don’t like food that makes their tongue burn and nose sweat.

Now..I don’t want you to confuse broccoli rabe with broccoli, because they are nothing alike. Broccoli is related to the cabbage family.  Broccoli rabe is related to the turnip family, and it’s a leafy green with buds that resemble tiny heads of broccoli..hence the name broccoli rabe. BUT, plain old garlicky broccoli also works well and is fantastic in this stromboli.  So if you’d rather not charter unfamiliar green territory, substitute broccoli for the broccoli rabe.

I’m also submitting this stromboli to this month’s  #TwelveLoaves theme – cheese, hosted by Lora of Cake Duchessand Yeastspotting hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast.  I’m also going to submit this to Shelley’s BBD #53 -Swirly breads.

One more thing.  I couldn’t get a melty, drippy, gooey cheesy photo because it was way too hot to handle (the encapsulated heat burned my fingers when I tried)  and I was by myself when I made and photographed it.  BUT, you should have seen all the cheesy goo dripping with each slice when I first cut it open gently, on the cutting board (It was so hot, it hurt!).  It was almost seductive, especially when it started to drip/stretch to the floor!  Man, If I could have gotten a photo of that…..

Finally, there used to be a long story in this post, you know, the cringe-worthy BBFL story.  This is why there re so many photos below with no text in between.

1) I’m too lazy to write anything to break them up; and 2) For some reason I can’t bring myself to take them down, even though they’re less than stellar.  Forgive me, kind souls.

Three Cheese Broccoli Rabe, Prosciutto and Roasted Red Pepper Stromboli

Three Cheese Prosciutto, Roasted Red Pepper, Broccoli Rabe Stromboli 
Dough from Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno via Paulchen’s Blog

1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups water
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

* 1 bunch of broccoli rabe washed and woody stems removed (If you don’t like broccoli rabe, use broccoli instead, blanching it first))
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
hot chili flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 or 3 large red bell peppers, roasted seeded, peeled -  each one sliced flat, into 3 or 4 pieces, blotted dry
12 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
8 oz thinly sliced provolone cheese
Olive oil
Asiago or any Italian hard grating cheese

If you don’t like broccoli rabe, use broccolini or just broccoli.

1.  Make the dough.  Sprinkle yeast into 1 cup of tepid water in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in center and pour in dissolved yeast and the oil. Mix in flour from sides of well. Stir in reserved water, as needed, to form a soft, sticky dough.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, silky, and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

4.  While dough is resting..roast your peppers and prepare the broccoli rabe.  Cut the cleaned and trimmed bunch of broccoli rabe in half, then boil in two inches of salted water for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Strain and drop into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Strain again and blot dry.  Heat the tablespoon of olive in a saute pan.  Add the minced garlic and saute until soft but not browned.  Add broccoli rabe a little at a time until wilted.  Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, salt and pepper to taste and add your desired amount of hot chili flakes, if using.  Remove the rabe from the pan to a plate to cool.

5. Punch down the risen dough and place it on a floured board.  Cover and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes, to relax the gluten.

6. Roll the rested dough into a 14″ x 8″ rectangle. Cover with clean towel and let rest another 10 minutes.

7. Spread the mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese, and broccoli rabe evenly over dough, layer by layer in the order listed.

8. Roll up the dough, starting at one of the shorter sides, but without rolling too tightly.  Seal well.

9. Place on oiled baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Use a skewer or knife to pierce several holes through the dough all the way down to the baking sheet. Brush loaf with olive oil, them top with peels of asiago cheese (or any hard Italian grating cheese you prefer).

10.  Bake at 400 degrees F for about an hour until golden brown.  Let rest a few minutes before slicing.

Three Cheese Broccoli, Prosciutto and Roasted Red Pepper Stromboli

If you get a chance, pop on over to Paulchen’s Blog?! and check out all of her delicious goodies!  To see what my fellow Group A SRC members chose from their assigned blogs, click on the blue frog below to see the gallery of links.

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Focaccia with Bacon, Cheddar and ‘Eggs in Wells’

May 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Appetizers, Breads, Breakfast, Lunch, Rainbow, Vegetables, Yeastspotting | 46 Comments
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There’s a new bread challenge in town.  It’s called the Bread Baking Society (Twitter handle @Breaking_Bread – hashtag #BreakingBread), - founded by Lora from Cake Duchess and Shulie from  Food Wanderings.  This month the bread they asked everyone to bake is focaccia and of course, I wanted to take part. Thankfully I got it in on the last day, last minute, of the month.  Once again, there was humidity, but not as bad as last week.  But, no braiding or shaping of focaccia – just dimpling (awww) – so humidity foiled.  Ha!

Of course, there was free creative reign, so the variety of focaccias linked up, sweet and savory, is pretty amazing, from sweet potato to southern charm.

I made a Focaccia McMuffin.  I call it that because it’s all bacon, eggs and cheddar.  What makes it kind of cool is, the eggs are in focaccia wells.  I scrunched up 6 large pieces of tin foil into 3-inch balls, coated each one generously with olive oil, then stuck them into the cheese and bacon filled dough before rising.  When fully risen, I pressed them down again, and baked the focaccia for 20 or so minutes, then removed the tin foil balls –  giving me perfect wells to crack 6 eggs into.  I put the focaccia back in the oven for 8 to 10 more minutes, and voila, six  perfectly cooked eggs, in six bacon – cheese bread squares (when cut), per person.

Of course I had to make it pretty, so before baking the focaccia, I topped it with some roasted red peppers, arugula, more bacon – and a few drizzles of olive oil.  When done, the eggs were seasoned with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chopped chives.

Finally, I used Nick Malgieri’s focaccia dough in this recipe, which Lora also used. But, due to the humidity, I had to add an extra cup of flour.  I also took down the salt because of the bacon.  I’m sure Nick wouldn’t mind..he’s a pretty awesome pastry chef and guy. He left a comment on THIS post back in 2010…thanks to Meaghan from The Decorated Cookie, alerting him to the post.  I was pretty stoked since I’m such a fan girl when it comes to my favorite chefs.  As you can see, I wrote a novel in response to his comment.  Iwon’t delete it, though because it was a moment it’s fun to relive every so often.

Bacon, Cheddar and 'Eggs in Wells' Foccaccia

So, uh, make this focaccia if you can.  Yes, it’s unusual, and yes, many Italians would probably gasp in horror at the site of it, but it’s really fun and delicious (this is all filler text since there used to be a story here.)

More filler.  Not much to say. *twiddling thumbs*.


Bacon, Cheddar and ‘Eggs in Wells’ Focaccia
Basic focaccia recipe adapted from How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri, with my revisions
Copyright (c) Nick Malgieri 1995, All Rights Reserved
6 individual servings

1 1/3 cups warm tap water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( I ended up using 1 more cup due to humidity)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
6 to 8 oz cheddar cheese, cubed
10 slices cooked bacon, chopped

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese plus 6 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese for the egg wells (1 tablespoon per well)
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and sliced (optional, or add your favorite vegetable(s)*
arugula leaves (optional, or use your favorite greens)*
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium or large eggs
chopped chives
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

*If you don’t want to add greens or veggies of any sort, top with extra bacon and cheese.  Herbs would be nice too.

101/2 x 151/2-inch jelly roll and parchment paper

1.  In a small bowl,water sprinkle the yeast over the water.  Add the 3 tablespoons olive oil and stir.

2. In large bowl, combine the flour and 1  1/2 teaspoons of salt; whisk together or mix together on low speed in your mixer.

3. Stir the yeast, water and olive oil into the flour and salt until you have a dry dough.  Slowly add the 1 1/3 cup of water while mixing, until you have a soft, but slightly raggedy dough.  You may or may not use all the water.

4.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

5.  When dough has doubled, fold it onto itself, then flatten it on a floured board.  Scatter the cheddar cheese cubes and 2 pieces of chopped bacon all over the flattened dough.  Fold it over a few times, adding flour as needed.  Use a bench scraper because you will run into stickiness.  Keep folding and kneading until the bacon and cheese is disseminated throughout the dough evenly. If bacon and/or cheese pops out during kneading, just shove it back in.   Let rest, covered for 5 to 10 minutes to relax the gluten.

6.  While the dough is resting, oil the jelly roll pan, then cut a piece of parchment to fit.  The oil will keep the parchment paper down.  Flatten the ball of dough onto the parchment lined pan and spread it as best you can until it almost reaches all four corners.  If it resists, let it rest a few minutes, then start pushing and spreading again.  Tuck in any cheese or bacon that pops out.

7.  Make 6 tin foil balls..about 3 to 4-inches each, and coat each one with olive or any oil, generously (I used spray olive oil) Press each tin foil ball into dough, deep..two on each row, equally apart.

8.  Cover pan with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.

9.  Prehaet oven to 425 degrees F.  Once risen, press the foil balls down again (they rise with the dough), then dimple focaccia and drizzle with olive oil.  Top with remaining chopped bacon, pepper strips, and arugula.

10. Bake at 425F for 20 minutes, then remove pan from oven..keeping oven at 425F, and pull out foil balls.  Sprinkle a 1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese in each well. Crack each egg, one at a time, into a ramekin or small bowl, then slowly and carefully pour each egg into a well, until all six are filled.

11.  Place pan back in the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the whites are cooked and the yolks are still jiggly, like a sunny-side up egg.

12.  Remove pan from oven, sprinkle all over with remaining shredded cheddar cheese (the heat will melt it), and salt and pepper each egg.  Sprinkle with chopped chives, if desired. Serve immediately, cutting the focaccia into 6 squares, each containing an egg.  Gently reheat leftovers, as not to overcook the egg.

I’m submitting this focaccia to Yeastspotting, hosted by the talented Susan of Wild Yeast.

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Amazing One Pot Tabbouleh Bread

May 14, 2012 at 5:23 am | Posted in BBD, Breads, Healthy, Middle Eastern, Salads, Sandwiches/Wraps, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Yeastspotting | 115 Comments
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I’d like to preface this post to thank everyone for all the thoughtful, sweet comments and emails about my situation.  You’re all the best.

Back in 2009, I watched Jacques Pepin mix, proof and bake a bread in one pot on one of his shows on Create TV – which I recorded and saved on DVR.  I idolize the man..he’s an absolute demigod in the kitchen.  Most everything I learned, in a high-end culinary sense, is from him, and he has been an incredible inspiration to me since the age of 13.  I will get more into detail about what I learned from him and how he changed my life when it came to cooking, in another post, one most likely dedicated to him with one of his amazing creations.

So, again, on that day in 2009, I watched him mix, proof and bake a bread in a non-stick pot.  I knew I had to try it – it was way too easy not to.  I wasn’t sure the bread would turn out as crusty, with an artisan like crumb, as it looked, because it went against everything I’ve learned about artisan bread baking over the years, plus it was made using only commercial yeast.

Well, here we are in 2012, and I finally got around to making it.  I was wrong, this bread is as close as you can get to a wild yeast like bread without a starter or sponge.  I think it has a lot to do with the overnight (10-14 hour) rise in the refrigerator, or maybe it’s just Jacques Pepin magic?

Once I made the bread plain and loved it, I knew I had to play with this blank canvas of crusty, lovely crumbed, perfection.  The possibilities were infinite.  I could just add cheese and it would be wonderful, as one person in a forum about this bread did, but I was feeling more ambitious.  After eating some tabbouleh one night for dinner, it hit me – why the heck not a tabbouleh bread?  All the flavors of tabbouleh in this wonderful loaf, including the bulgur wheat.  But, would it work?  Would the soaked wheat be too heavy for a decent rise?

I wasn’t taking any chances.  After deciding not to add my homemade tabbouleh to the bread batter, since cucumbers and tomatoes could make it really soggy and also affect the rise, I decided to add just the bulgur wheat, herbs, lemon zest, green onions, garlic and leave out the cucumbers to serve along with the bread.  Since tomatoes needed to make some kind appearance, I felt tiny grape tomatoes would make a great topping, especially once I decided to create a design on top with some extra mint, chives and parsley – the tomatoes being the fruit growing on the branches of my little trees, stems, bushes, or whatever you want to call them.

Let’s just call it free-form.

Not only did the bread turn out, but, and, it tastes like tabbouleh.  The bulgur wheat adds chewiness to the crumb and also binds it so you can use it as a sandwich bread.  When it’s plain, it’s more of a ‘rip off a hunk’ type of bread than a sandwich bread.  This is not a bad thing, but since the addition of the bulgur wheat made for lovely slices, of course I had to make a sandwich, pictured further down.

Oh, did I mention the crust?  I think I did briefly, but please  let me ooh and ahh over it for another second.  It’s crisp, crunchy, and flaky, like a bread baked in a steam oven on a stone.  I do think it’s magic, because, how do you get such an amazing crust from a batter bread that’s mixed, proofed, and baked in a non-stick pot?

I’m still flummoxed.

That being said, the decorative topping adds a nice texture too, a light crispy bite jam-packed with herbaceous flavor (that sounded so granola, didn’t it?) complimented by the roasted tomatoes – a sweet, concentrated punch, both enhancing the already perfect crust.

Okay, there is a slight caveat if you want to make this bread. There is one thing you must have, and that’s a 3-quart non-stick saucepan like THIS, to make the magic work.  People have tried mixing the dough in bowls then baking it in loaf pans, but although they may get something okay, it will not be this bread.  The whole reason behind its success is that every step of this bread takes place in this pot – no kneading, no shaping, no greasing or flouring, so not using this pot kind of defeats the purpose, not to mention, the amazing crust.

I know, it sucks to have to buy something for one use, but, you can cook in it too, so technically, it’s not a ‘one use’ item.  However, trust me when I say you will be making this bread at least once a week, whether it be plain or with additions, because it’s simple, wonderful and convenient.  Mix it up at 2 am if you like, as long as it gets the 1 to 1 1/2 hour room temperature rise and the  10-14 hour refrigerator proof, you’re golden.

Amazing One Pot Tabbouleh Bread

I changed the basic recipe just a bit for my tabbouleh bread..using a whole packet (2 1/4 teaspoons – .25 oz) of yeast to insure a good rise with the bulgur wheat, and increasing the salt.  You can also play around with the recipe, maybe using bread flour or decreasing the water, but I think it’s pretty perfect as is.  Be creative, add whatever you want to his basic recipe, have fun!  As I mentioned above, the possibilities are endless!

My next ‘endeavor’ will probably be baby spinach leaves  and gruyere, OR, maybe even a cinnamon sugar bread, slathered with gobs of gooey, cream cheese glazey goodness.  Why not?

Brush the inside of both slices with the lemon olive oil, then layer butter lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese and cucumbers. I really like feta cheese – can you tell?

Feta, Cucumber, Tomato, Lettuce and Lemon Pepper Olive Oil on Homemade Tabbouleh Bread

‘One Pot’ Tabbouleh Bread
Adapted from and Inspired by Jacques Pepin’s One Pot Bread Recipe, with my revisions.

Here’s a video of Jacques making this bread

2 1/4 cups tepid water
3-4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package Active Dry Yeast – .25 oz
4 cups AP Flour
1/3 cup bulgur wheat (fine to medium grain)
1/3 cup boiling or very hot water
I very large handful parsley leaves
1 small to medium handful mint leaves
4 green onions, sliced thinly
4 – 5 cloves garlic, finely minced (I make my tabbouleh with garlic – not the norm, but everything is better with garlic!)
1 lemon, zested..then juiced for olive oil dip
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fresh black pepper
grape or teardrop tomatoes – cut in half, seeds and juice squeezed out.
3 or 4 chives plus extra whole stems of mint and parsley (optional, for making design)

1.  Boil water, then add bulgur wheat.  Let soak abut 20-25 minutes, until the wheat has absorbed all or most of the water.

2.  Coarsely chop the parsley leaves with the mint leaves.  I chopped mine too can barely see them in the bread.  This is for aesthetic purposes only, so it’s really ok if you chop them finely.  Chop the garlic finely.

3.  Pour the tepid water into the pot.  Add the kosher salt, yeast, and flour.

4.  When you start to mix the bread batter, stir in the bulgur wheat (if any water remains, strain it out), chopped garlic, lemon zest, parsley, mint, and thinly sliced green onions.  Mix thoroughly.  Cover and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes, at room temperature.

5.  After room temperature rising, lift off cover and stir down the risen dough.  Cover again, tightly, and place in the refrigerator overnight 10-14 hours.

5.  Preheat oven to 450F.  Remove risen bread dough in pot from refrigerator.  Top with grape tomatoes (keep whole if very small, slice in half if not that small), parsley leaves (no thick stems), mint leaves, and strips of scallion or chives (for stems if you want to make a pretty design).

6.  Bake for 35-40 minutes (40 was perfect for me).

7.  Combine the cup of olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper, then add some lemon slices to it.  Dip slices of the bread in the lemon olive oil, if desired.  Serve with sliced cucumbers and more tomatoes or make that awesome sandwich above - or eat it/serve it any way you want – it’s amazing without any of the above.

I’m submitting this bread to Bread Baking Day #50 – Bread with Vegetables, hosted by From- Snuggs Kitchen, and Yeastspotting, hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast.

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Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread for BBD #47

February 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Posted in Appetizers, BBD, Breads, Dessert, Fruit, Yeastspotting | 46 Comments
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If you recall, I mentioned last time that I’m this month’s host for Bread Baking Day #47, Bread with Chocolate.  Of course, the host takes part too, so I’m submitting a fantastically, deep, dark chocolate bread with dried cherries that are soaked in kirsch and big, chocolate chunks.

Remember, there’s still plenty of time to submit your yeasted creation, sweet or savory, baked, fried, or whatever..with chocolate added in any form, up until March 1st, Midnight EST. You can read about it HERE!

It all began when I was looking for an old cookbook a few days ago and came across a bread machine cookbook that I received as a gift with a brand new bread machine during the holidays back in 1994.  I used to use this book to death because it was chock full of incredible and unique bread recipes adapted for bread machines and it was fun trying all the recipes during this bread machine phase of my young baking life.

This  Black Forest Chocolate Cherry Bread was one of my favorites to make because everyone in the world loves dark chocolate, except for me, so it was always easy to give it away to oohs and ahhs while I kept my muffin top from spilling over and busting my zipper.

It’s now out of print, but if you can find it somewhere., used or new, I highly recommend grabbing a copy if you have a bread machine and like to use your bread machine.  It’s the best bread machine cookbook I ever came across, to this day.  It’s called The Best Bread Machine Cookbook Ever by Madge Rosenberg.

Look at that beautiful, shiny crust after it’s brushed, HOT, with the kirsch!  The kirsch soaks and the crust remains, well, crusty,  A good thing as one, famous Domestic Goddess whose initials are MS, might say. Not to mention, the interior of the bread is almost fudgy, while retaining a fluffy, light crumb, if that makes any sense.


I tried to be artsy.  It never works.  I’m photographically challenged.

This is the piece de resistance of accouterments to this bread.  Creamy, sweet, vanilla bean cream cheese.  Even though I don’t like dark chocolate, I wolfed down about 3 slices slathered with this spread.  I also ate some of it with a spoon.  Yes, I’m a glutton.

Look at those gorgeous dried cherries studding each slice,, below.  They plump up while the bread is baking, giving you a little juicy that’s unexpected.  I also gorged on the cherries, dipping one of them in the cream cheese spread, sloppily, because, again, I’m a glutton.

Finally, the best part.  For those of you who don’t have a bread machine, I converted this recipe to hand or stand mixer kneading and oven baking.  I added the chocolate chunks to the recipe – well chocolate disks, very large couverture disks I purchased from Leites Culinaria a while back for a chocolate chip cookie recipe I never got around to trying.

AS mentioned above, I also made a sweet vanilla bean cream cheese whip as a spread for this wonderfully moist and dense chocolate bread.  It’s a tasty, tangy, sweet emulation of the whipped cream on a Black Forest Cake.  Plus, why not add more calories?  Enjoy!

Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread
Recipe from The Best Bread Machine Cookbook Ever, by Madge Rosenberg, converted to manual mixing/kneading and oven baking, with my addition of chocolate chunks
Makes One 1.5 lb loaf

3/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kirsch or rum (optional, you can soak the cherries in any fruity liquid you doesn’t have to be alcohol)
1 cup water
1/2 cup good quality dark cocoa powder (I used Valrhona.  You can use a basic supermarket cocoa powder, and it doesn’t have to be dark, your call.)
2 3/4 cups bread flour – if dough is too wet, keep adding flour until you have a soft and slightly tacky dough.  Flour absorption depends on a lot of factors, like the weather.
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoond salt
3 tablespoons softened butter
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 cup good quality chocolate chunks or disks

1. Place dried cherries in a medium bowl with half the Kircsh or rum, or whatever soaking liquid you choose.  Set aside until needed.  They will plump and soften slightly.

2.  Boil water and stir in cocoa until uniform.  Let cool until tepid, about 120 to 130 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Using paddle attachment, combine and slowly pour in tepid cocoa/water mixture.  Add softened butter and mix until it’s blended in.  Add the egg and keep mixing until uniform and brownie batter like.

3.  Slowly add in remaining (more or less depending on weather) flour until you have a slightly stiff dough that’s easy to work with.  Now, you can either switch to the dough hook and let it knead the dough until it’s smooth and silky – slapping against the sides of the bowl cleanly, about 10 minutes, or dump it on a floured pastry board and knead by hand (therapeutic).

4.  Form the kneaded dough into smooth ball.  Lightly grease a large bowl, and place the dough in it..turning to grease the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or so, until doubled in size.

5. When doubled in size, fold dough over on itself to deflate it, then place back on a clean floured pastry board, flattening it.  Add the cherries with soaking liquid and the chocolate chunks or disks then fold the dough over itself several times to start incorporating them.  The cherries and chocolate will keep popping out of the dough in a peek-a-boo manner with some falling out.  It’s ok, just keep pushing them back in and kneading.  There will be cherries and chocolate chunks showing once you’re finished, but that’s perfectly fine..just stuff them back in with your fingers as best you can.  You just want to make sure you get them evenly distributed throughout the dough.  Let rise in greased bowl, covered, for another hour.

6.  Form dough into a loaf shape, and place in a greased and lightly floured 9 x 5 loaf pan.  Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until more than doubled..rising above the top of the pan – about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Could be less depending on how warm the area you keep it in, is.

7.  When the dough looks about ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  This is a very dark chocolate bread, so you can’t tell by color.  Another way to tell if it’s done is to take it’s internal temperature.  It should register about 205 degrees F, but I don’t like poking a hole in my bread. ;D

8.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and place on wire rack to cool fully.  Brush with remaining kirsch or whatever liquid you used if flavored over top of loaf.  If you used water, don’t bother.  Slice up and enjoy!

1. Freeze the chocolate chunks.  Place all ingredients in the order suggested by your bread machine manual except the cherries and chocolate chunks and process on the basic bread cycle.

2. At the end of the first knead cycle (it should beep) add cherries with soaking liquid and frozen chocolate chunks.

3. Brush top of loaf with kirsch or rum after you remove the fully baked bread from the machine.

Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Spread
8 oz of cream cheese, softened
2 large, 3 medium or 4 small vanilla beans, split and scraped (stick empty pods in a separate canister of granulated sugar to make vanilla sugar..great stuff!)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
About 2 tablespoons heavy cream

1.  In a medium bowl, with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in vanilla bean scrapings, then powdered sugar.  Beat on medium speed until uniform. Drizzle in heavy cream and continue beating on low speed until it’s reached a nice, creamy, fluffy, spreadable consistency.

I’m submitting this Black Forest Chocolate Chunk Cherry Bread to Yeastspotting, a weekly bread baking showcase hosted by the uber talented Susan of Wild Yeast.

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