Get excited, folks, because I’ve broken the cycle.  That’s right – no pumpkin here.  Who’s proud of me?

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Anyway, enough patting myself on the back for branching out.  The real story here is the bread.

I adore bread-baking, as you can probably tell from the recipes collected here.  There’s just something so basic and tranquil about it…more so than anything else I can think of.  It’s comforting, really. I mean, how long have people been baking their own bread?  Forever?  Definitely longer than they’ve been baking cookies.

But I don’t necessarily like baking the same kind of bread each time, because, as we all know, I have a rather short attention span and if I already know how something is going to turn out, it’s not that big of a surprise.  It’s not a challenge, a gamble, to pull the pan out of the oven, and I don’t hover over it with a mixture of trepidation and glee, waiting for it to cool enough for me to take that first experimental bite – the very bite that will ultimately determine whether the recipe is a success or failure.  Sometimes the waiting (especially with bread and it’s multiple rising times and lengthy baking) is too much for me and I can’t even wait for the food to cool down – I have to have it right that second, even though the steam rising off of it tells me that it will burn the roof of my mouth and interfere with my ability to taste for days to come.  But that excitement?  That anxious waiting period?  That one moment of bliss when the recipe succeeds and you’ve created something delicious?  That, my friends, is why I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, and largely why I enjoy cooking in general.

But back to the bread – the chocolate bread.  I may have mentioned 10 or 12 times that I’m a full-fledged, over the top chocoholic, and this bread filled my house with the deep, rich smell of baking chocolate long after the loaf itself had been pulled from the oven.

I enjoyed it last night on its own, and again for breakfast this morning, drizzled with some creamy peanut butter and sliced bananas.  Never was a better sandwich made.

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Chocolate Bread

Adapted from the great Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup warm water

2 – 2 3/4 cups white flour

1 packet active dry yeast

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

2 tbsp butter

In a small bowl, add warm water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.  Add butter (I melted mine and stirred it in.  This is called bad technique/laziness, but it worked), egg, and yeast mixture, and mix into a rough dough.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead for about 5 minutes – until dough is smooth.

Oil a large bowl (I used the same one I mixed in – again, lazy but effective), and roll the dough ball around in the oil to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour – until its size has doubled.

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface, and press with palms to deflate.  Mold into a rectangle, and fold down sides to fit buttered loaf pan.  Place seam-side down in pan, and allow to rise again for about an hour, covered in plastic wrap.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Once dough is completely risen, place on middle rack of the oven and lower temperature to 350 degrees.  Cook 30 – 40 minutes, until dough is rough/hard to the touch and deeply brown.

Unmold and cool on a rack.

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