23 February 2008

Chocolate Cherry Bread

Every Christmas season, I am one of the many people in town who braves the cold and then stands patiently in line at our beloved Wheatfields, to pick up goodies for the holiday dinner table. There's plenty of time to look around while in that line, however my eyes always fixate on the stack of dense, shiny loaves of Cherry Chocolate Bread.

Most people in line make sure they have a loaf of this bread added to their order, but I have yet to do so. I have never tried this type of bread, to be honest. All I can imagine, looking at those pretty dark loaves, is a rich, chocolatey bread studded with cherries and quality chocolate chunks. I have heard lots of good things about chocolate cherry bread, and at $12.00 a loaf here, I am guessing it must be something truly amazing.

While my rational side would never allow me to pay that much for a small boule, I'm still insanely curious as to what, exactly, this bread tastes like. I love cherries very much, as well as chocolate, so it should be right up my alley. I've googled and searched and looked some more for a recipe to try on my own, finally settling on this one. And off I started one cold winter morning, just me and some coffee and lots and lots of cocoa powder/cherries, to make some of this bread for myself.

To be honest, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. Not to say it's bad, by any means, but not quite up to what I imagined. The icing and nuts on top, while pretty, really take away from the bread itself. All that topping reminds me of a coffee cake or danish, not chocolate bread. The bread was fine. Not as deep of a chocolate taste as I imagined, and the cherries lose something as well. Maybe it's the kirsch that makes it too cloyingly sweet (although I admit I used dried Rainier cherries, not the tart Door County cherries as I would have liked). And I also think using bittersweet chocolate chunks in the dough would work much better than semi-sweet miniature chips, to give it a bit more punch.

I haven't given up on you yet, chocolate cherry bread. I think this recipe will make an amazing bread pudding dessert for work on Monday. And one day, someday, I'll have a nice loaf like those in my fantasies. Even if it means paying twelve bucks for it.

Chocolate Cherry Bread

2 3/4 - 3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp. kirsch
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
1 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. kirsch
2-3 tsp. milk
2 Tbsp. toasted chopped hazelnuts

In a large mixing bowl stir together 1 cup of the flour, the cocoa powder, and yeast; set aside. In a medium saucepan heat and stir the milk, sugar, butter or margarine, and salt till mixture is warm (120 to 130 F) and butter or margarine is almost melted. Add to flour mixture. Add egg and kirsch. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in cherries, chocolate pieces, and as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place till doubled (about 2 hours).

Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Grease 2 large baking sheets. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 12-inch-long rope. Place 2 ropes, side by side, on the prepared baking sheet. Twist together; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place till nearly double (about 1 hour). Brush with additional milk. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for about 35 minutes, or till bread is a rich brown color and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from baking sheets; cool on racks.

In a small mixing bowl stir together sifted powdered sugar, kirsch, and enough milk to make a smooth icing of drizzling consistency. Drizzle cooled loaves with glaze; sprinkle with hazelnuts.


Gretchen Noelle said...

I think this looks delicious! Hope you keep tweaking and come out with something you are satisfied with. Yum is all I can say!

Brilynn said...

This bread definitely has potential, it might just need to be tweaked a bit. I made a loaf of chocolate bread a little while ago, it wasn't what I expected either, it smelled like chocolate but didn't have much chocolate flavour.

Anonymous said...

mmmmmmm. looks yummy :-D

Patricia Scarpin said...

Nemmie, the bread is stunning! I love how you shaped it, so perfectly.

Too bad it wasn't all that, but it certainly made me wish I have had a slice!

Deborah said...

It looks gorgeous, even if it didn't measure up. And the bread pudding you are going to make it into will probably be worth it all!!

Annie said...

The cherry makes the difference...
I used Tart Montmorency Dried Door County cherries and I thought the bread to be wonderful!!

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