My BIL Russ is a man of few words. the “I’m sure it is better than it looks” descriptor comes from him. I brought a loaf of this Chocolate and Cherry bread to his house (along with some Gingersnap cookies which he commented were missing from my Christmas cookie offerings this past Dec.). I haven’t really thought about the look of the bread (dark and lumpy with chunks of chocolate and cherries) until he mentioned it. Now I admit that it is maybe not the most attractive of loafs, but that doesn’t detract from the taste.
I saw the original recipe on Alexandra Cooks. I was a little apprehensive about trying it as A) I am new to the whole bread making thing B) most times I’ve tried chocolate bread in a non-quick bread (more cake than bread) form it has been D-R-Y! Even when trying the bread from a beloved New England Bakery with aviator-pork in the name. C) I didn’t have a cast iron dutch oven (now I do thanks to my lovely DH and a mother’s day gift) so I wasn’t sure that the recipe would work (it does).
I gave the recipe a try with a couple of changes and I can say that I will be making it again. I ended up freezing half of it which also worked really well. The only change I will probably have to make going forward is to not add the cherries. Robert did not care for the tart dried cherry hit every so many bites. I personally liked the combination, but as my kiddos tended to go with him on this one I will most likely be making this straight up chocolate bread from now on. If you are interested in making this in a cast-iron enameled dutch oven please see the original directions. I found it just as easy to make this way. The only other “special equipment” needed is a scale to weigh the ingredients. I know this may be a pain, but I think that measuring this way for this recipe is what ensures it doesn’t become to dry. My hubby bought me our scale several years ago and we use it to weigh packages to mail as well, so it isn’t a kitchen only use tool.
Chocolate Cherry Bread
14 oz. (394g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1.5 oz (42g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. (56g) brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
1.5 cups (12 oz) water
7 oz. chocolate (a mix of semi-sweet (2 oz) and bittersweet (5 oz.) is what I use, but if you like your bread on the sweeter side use more semi-sweet)
5 oz. dried sour cherries, (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, cocoa, brown sugar, and salt.
Add the 1.5 cups of water and stir to combine. The mixture will be a sticky, wet mass. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let sit overnight or for 12 to 18 hours.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle.
Roughly chop the chocolate (you can use a food processor if you want, but I like chunks). If your dried cherries are large you should roughly chop them as well. Then add them to the bowl of dough. Using a spatula (and wrist power) mix the chocolate pieces (and cherries) into the dough.
Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper. Turn dough out onto a floored work surface. Divide the dough in two.
At this point you can wrap one piece of dough in plastic wrap and freeze. When you want to bake it thaw at room temperature for 2 hours before baking.
Working quickly with the left over piece of dough form it into a loaf by fold the dough under. Place on the the parchment covered sheet pan. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the loaf sound hollow when tapped. Move the loaf to a wire rack and cool for at least 20 minutes.