Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Cherry Bread with a hint of Chocolate

There's something very satisfying about making your own bread from scratch.  A few years back I invested in a bread maker but gradually became disenchanted with it - the bread didn't always rise properly, it got stuck to the tin or it didn't completely cook unless I set the bread machine to the mega long programme.  I also felt disconnected from the creation of my bread - the creativity was lost.  I decided to make all breads from scratch.

I learnt that if you activate the yeast first, you will know that if it bubbles, it will rise.  If you make the liquid to warm, all is not lost, you can just make some more up, as opposed to learning this after an hour's rise - never good!

I wanted to make a fruity bread but with yeast so could still toast it like normal bread.  I raided my cupboard and found dried cherries and a load of chocolate spread , thought that this would make a winning combo and gave it a go.

So, Cherry and Chocolate Bread - have it toasted for brekkie, maybe with some peanut butter, maybe with some more chocolate spread or have it straight from the oven like I did, with lashings of butter...
  • 215ml milk
  • 375g flour (plus an extra couple of tablespoons)
  • 1/2 tbsp yeast (fast action)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 100g dried cherries plus 2 tbsp sugar (or fresh)
  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • 60g Chocolate spread/hazelnut spread/or chocolate
  • 1 egg (for coating bread)
Soak the cherries in the 2 tbsp sugar (if using dried) for at least a couple of hours until soft.  Drain then pat dry on kitchen towel.  Place in a small bowl, mix in the ground almonds then set aside.

Heat the milk, sugar and chocolate in a pan until it just starts to boil.  Allow to cool until it's warm then pour into a bowl and mix in the yeast.  Leave the mixture for 20 mins or until the top becomes foamy.

Sift the flour, and add to the yeast mixture.  Knead the dough for 10-15 mins until it becomes elasticy.  You may find that you will have to add additional flour if the dough is too sticky to knead (I used about an extra tablespoon).  Place in a bowl, cover and leave to prove somewhere warm for approx an hour or doubled in size.

Knock the dough back and add the cherry mixture.  Knead for another 10-15 mins.  You will notice that the cherries will try to escape so add small amounts of flour again until they stay in place.

Place in a loaf tin (I used a 20x10cm, 10cm deep silicone one - isn't silicone great? Takes all the stress out of washing up!).  Allow to prove for and additional 30 mins and preheat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade. Glaze with an egg and bake for 50 mins.  It's ready when you can tap the bottom of the bread.  Allow to cool slightly, remove from tin, then place on a cooling rack, (don't do what I did and try to slice it straight away - it's not as firm when it's just been cooked - I'm just too impatient.

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