Friday, September 30, 2011
A Hearty Chocolate Almond Bread
I am so excited ... this weekend I going to visit my brother and his family, which means I get to meet my six week old nephew. It promises to be a lovely time of catching up with family, playing with my older niece and nephew, and sharing in the joy of a new baby. Of course, I can’t arrive empty handed and have had fun pondering what I can tuck into my carry-on bag. Bread travels well since it is compact and sturdy, and I’ve had my eye on a recipe for a chocolate loaf studded with chunks of chocolate and almonds.
Chocolate and almonds pair so well together. I love a good bar of dark chocolate with almonds, especially with a little sea salt added in, so when I spotted a recipe for chocolate almond bread in the Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook (my favorite bakery in Seattle), I knew I had to make it. I added whole wheat flour, substituted almond milk, increased the chocolate and sprinkled salt on top, and am very pleased with the resulting bread.
We sliced the chocolate loaf while still warm, licking the melting chocolate off of our fingers. I had planned to butter the bread, or spread slices with cream cheese, but we enjoyed it plain and almost consumed the entire loaf in one sitting.
This is a hearty bread. The chunks of chocolate are decadent and the toasted almonds add wonderful crunch, while the cinnamon topping rounds out the flavors beautifully.
Have a great weekend!
Chocolate Almond Bread
Adapted from Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook
by Leslie Mackie
Makes 1 loaf
1/2 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (have a mix of big and small chunks)
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons brown sugar
A tiny pinch of sea salt
Warm the almond milk slightly in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer. Pour the warm almond milk into the bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, until the yeast bubbles up.
Add the remaining sugar, vanilla, eggs, cocoa powder, flours and salt. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed for a couple of minutes. Add the butter and increase the speed to medium. Mix for about 10 minutes, until the dough looks satiny. Add the chopped nuts and chocolate and mix for a couple more minutes.
Place the dough in a medium sized bowl, cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm spot to rise for about 2 hours (if my kitchen is cold, I preheat the oven on its lowest setting, then turn it off and pop the bowl into the oven and shut the door).
Punch the dough down, remove it from the bowl and knead on a floured surface to remove air bubbles. Shape the dough into a ball. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the bread on it. Let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the cinnamon, brown sugar and salt. Sprinkle it on top of the loaf. Bake for 50-55 minutes. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool for 1/2 hour before slicing (if you can wait that long!).