Saturday, 17 August 2013

Pane alla Cioccolata … a bread to be shared

I love to share bread stories with everyone who reads this blog, but I also tend to talk about bread with anyone that will listen. Most everyone around me, family, friends and acquaintances, know I’m a bread-baking fanatic.

The more I learn about bread baking, the more I find that it’s not about the baker, it’s about the bread. Making bread is a simple pleasure, a stress reliever, an art and a necessity, at times. But most importantly, it’s a way of bringing people together. Bread is a gift that’s meant to be shared.


Over the past couple of years, I’ve been doing a good bit of shipping through my local UPS store. I ship bread and other goodies to my sons who live in different cities, but I also ship items related to the Bread Experience.

When the owner of the UPS store found out about the Bread Experience, she asked me if I had any breads with dried fruit. Since I don’t bake and sell bread for a living, this often confuses people. Once I explained that I don’t actually sell bread, but I teach people how to make it, she asked if I had a good recipe. I gave her my card so she could visit the site, but I decided to do one better and actually make her some bread with dried fruit. 

That was several months ago, and I’ve been in the store numerous times since then. Recently, I shipped my youngest son some bread and she kindly reminded me that I had promised to make her some bread. Busted!  It was time to make good on my promise. I figured it should be a really good bread since I had made her wait.

I’ve had this chocolate bread with dried cherries bookmarked to make for a special occasion. I decided now was time to make it.


Pane alla Cioccolata



Makes: 2 Loaves

Adapted from: The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking by The French Culinary Institute



Liquid Levain:

  • 225 grams/ 8 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 280 grams/ 9 3/4 ounces water
  • 25 grams/ 3/4 ounces liquid levain culture

Final Dough:

  • 320 grams/ 11 1/4 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 32 grams/ 1 1/8 ounces Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 30 grams/ 1 T water *
  • 530 grams/ 1 pound 2 2/3 ounces Liquid Levain
  • 1 large egg 
  • 20 grams/ 3/4 ounce milk
  • 15 grams/ 1/2 ounce (~1 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 grams / 3/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 6 grams/ 1/4 ounce (1 1/4 tsp.) sea salt
  • 70 grams/ 2 1/2 ounces (5 T) organic sugar
  • 130 grams/ 4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 50 grams/ 1 3/4 ounces dried cherries

* I used a large egg so this added more liquid. I reduced the amount of water to compensate for the extra liquid in the egg. You may need more water so adjust accordingly during the mixing cycle.

Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water



Prepare the liquid levain:

Mix together the all-purpose flour, water and liquid levain culture with a wooden spoon or a Danish dough whisk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment at room temperature (75 degrees F.) for 14 to 18 hours.



Making the Final Dough:

1) Prepare the mise en place. The egg and butter should be at room temperature.



2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the all-purpose flour and cocoa powder, water, liquid levain, eggs, milk, butter, yeast, and sea salt. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until the ingredients are combined. Increase the speed to medium and mix until everything is well blended. Add more flour or water as necessary.

3) Gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time and mix well after each addition.  Continue mixing until the gluten is completely developed.  This could take about 10 minutes.



4) When the gluten is sufficiently developed, add the chocolate chunks and dried cherries and mix on low speed until incorporated.



5) Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl or container.  Cover with plastic or a kitchen towel and let it ferment for 1 hour.

6) After an hour, uncover the dough and fold it one.  Cover it again with the plastic wrap and let it ferment for an additional hour.

7) Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour.  Uncover the dough and divide it into 2 pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball and cover with plastic.  Allow the dough balls to rest for 10 minutes



8) Butter two 9-inch loaf pans. Uncover the dough balls. Lightly flour the work surface again if necessary. Press the dough gently to degas and shape the balls into loaves. Shape it into a log shape or a batard.  I did one of each.



9) Place each loaf in a prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let them proof for 2 hours.



10) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the egg wash by combining the large egg and tablespoon of water.  Whisk to combine.  Brush the egg wash onto the top of the loaves using a pastry brush.



11) Bake the loaves for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F., or until the crust is deep brown and the sides are firm to the touch.

12) Remove the loaves from the oven and turn out onto wire racks to cool.


I gave one of these loaves away and enjoyed the other one myself.  It tastes great toasted with butter. It also freezes well.

Happy Baking!


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