>> Monday, July 19, 2010
I like cooking and baking pretty much equally. There's just something about baking, though. I mean, it's almost magical. It certainly requires some attention to detail and patience. And, unlike with most of what I cook, I can't as easily substitute ingredients and expect fantastic results. Not without practice, at least.
However, I decided to put the substitution thing to the test this weekend. And what I made didn't just turn out -- it quickly became a new family favorite. I hope you'll like it, too.
This chocolate-walnut bread isn't sweet. In fact, it goes well with just about anything (including the balsamic-drizzled heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad we paired it with -- recipe below). The walnuts get this fantastic roasted flavor . . . and the crust is bakery quality, for sure! It's a modified version of the recipe I posted a while back for the No-Knead Tuscan Garlic Loaf.
And If you've been reading (never home)maker long enough, you'll remember that to make this recipe -- you'll patience. It isn't for those of you who need instant gratification. The dough rises for 18 to 24 hours. Then a quick punch-down. Rise again another 2 hours. Then bake 30 minutes. Then another 15 to 30 minutes.
NO-KNEAD CHOCOLATE-WALNUT BREAD
What you'll need . . .
- 3 cups unbleached white bread flour (I used King Arthur)
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon natural sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
- 1 cup cool (55 to 65 degrees) water
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- Handfull (or two) raw walnuts
- Cornmeal or additional flour for dusting
Method . . . (lots of steps, none of them difficult)
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, salt, cocoa powder, sugar, and yeast. Make an impression in the middle of the dry ingredients, almost like a little bowl.
- Pour the water and canola oil into the impression you just made. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, adding a bit more water if necessary.
- Gently fold the walnuts into the dough.
- Cover the bowl with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 18 to 24 hours.
- When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece.
- Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Tuck the edges of the dough under to make it round.
- Dust a cookie sheet with cornmeal. Gently place the dough on the cookie sheet, seam side down.
- Dust the top lightly with cornmeal. Place another lightly oiled piece of plastic wrap over the loaf-in-progress. Then let rest in a warm, draft-free spot for just about 2 hours.
- Position one of your oven racks so that your dutch oven will be centered in the oven, and preheat it to 475 degrees F.
- Place a covered 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 quart cast-iron dutch oven in the center of the rack. Let fully preheat.
- Carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue baking until the loaf is a deep chestnut color -- but not burned -- 15 to 30 minutes. Use a heatproof spatula to carefully lift the loaf out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly before slicing.
To make the heirloom and mozzarella salad (for two), simply slice an heirloom tomato and a ball of fresh mozzarella. Pile them like you see in the photo. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and garlic powder. This recipe is perfect for summer. And it looks fancy, too!
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