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No Knead Chocolate Bread

13 Mar

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Currently…I’ve got chocolate in the corners of my mouth. Chocolate on my keyboard. I’m picking crumbs off the front of my shirt. Oh nice – there’s a butter stain.

I’m definitely not the most lady-like individual. I don’t wear heels, I don’t know what to do past applying mascara and I most certainly don’t know how to apply nail polish…not that I have the nails for it anyway.

Am I jealous of those proper ladies? Maybe a little. The jealousy doesn’t last very long though…because stuffing my face with warm, buttered chocolate bread and not worrying about what’s getting smudged or stained is a pretty sweet experience. No pun intended.

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This recipe is a favourite of mine, created by the king of no knead bread, Jim Lahey. It truly suited my mood, which lately, has been one of those “I want to make something but I don’t want to actually do any work” moods. Could it be lack of inspiration? Could it be the recent food poisoning attack I recently suffered while in Dallas, Texas? Could it be the fact that the very thought of food reminds me of projectile vomiting at a Dallas Mavericks basketball game? Perhaps the fact that I am still trying to digest the pound of barbecued beef rib I ate in one sitting? Probably a mix of everything.

The method for this bread is simple. It is time consuming but requires nothing but planning ahead. Mix ingredients together…let rest for 12-18 hours..

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Form a cute little dough ball…

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Rise some more…

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Bake in a dutch oven at a high temperature…

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Boom. Chocolate and bread. Together at last. Butter that sucker up.

Just a note here for the recipe. The original calls for chopped bittersweet chocolate. All I had were mini chocolate chips and an “I don’t care attitude.” If I were you I would stick with the chopped chocolate. The mini chips seemed to cause the bottom to burn a bit because there were so many. Lesson learned.

Chocolate Bread (from the book
My Bread)
makes one 8″ round loaf

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups cool water

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, the chocolate, salt, and yeast.
Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds.

Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is puffy and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12-18 hours

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with bran or 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.

Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round. Place a tea towel on your work surface, generously dust it with wheat bran or flour.

Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. Lightly sprinkle with more flour.

Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 2-3 hours.

The dough is ready when it is almost doubled and feels like a water balloon.
If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place a covered 4 1/2 – to 5 1/2 -quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.

Lay your ball of chocolate goodness onto a piece of parchment paper, big enough to fit into the pot.

Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly place the parchment parcel into the oven.
Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 10-15 more minutes.

Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

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Focaccia!

20 Apr

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I want to talk about my to do list. The one that I’ve had for months now….the one that just kinda sits there on the fridge inconspicuously next to my “Safety is hot!” magnet and the cartoon mushroom variety chart.

The to do list is that list of things I know I have to get done but the level of urgency is so low that I always end up convincing myself that watching the latest episode of (insert name of show I watch in shame)  is waaaaay more important. And so it goes. For weeks.

You’re probably wondering what the heck is on that list? Oh, its mostly little things..

Hang that large picture of a cow with a neon green background I couldn’t help buying at Ikea.

Organize cardboard mountain sitting outside on my porch.

Deal with the spare change….everywhere.

Clean out and back up my computer.

Sometimes I start the day with the best of intentions…I tell myself I’ll cross one of those bad boys off the list, but then I go and make something like focaccia bread.

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Oh well. Worth it.

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I make this bread all the time at work. I don’t even want to try and figure out how many times I’ve made it in the 5 years I’ve been there…but let’s just say I know my way around this bread. We’re pretty good pals. Making it at home (downsized!) is an easy way to have fresh bread with little fuss. It is perfect for serious sandwiches, bruschetta, and such.

It’s a dangerously easy path to warm yummy goodness. Sold?

Here you go,

August Restaurant’s Focaccia

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tbsp yeast

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp sugar

1 lb all purpose flour (I’ve used whole wheat before with the BEST results)

2 tsp salt

Mix the water, yeast, honey, olive oil and sugar in a bowl. Let sit until yeast is nice and foamy (10ish minutes)

Add in the flour and salt, and stir by hand or if you have a stand mixer you can use the dough hook (you lucky bastard) for about 3 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky.

Let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size for about 30 minutes.

Transfer to an oiled pan, preheat your oven to 475F, and let rise again for 15-20 minutes.

Poke holes in the top with your fingers, sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and herbs, and throw that jiggly mound of dough in the oven! Bake until it’s nicely browned.

Do not eat immediately – it will result in your consuming way more than you intended. Unless that was your intention…then eat while still warm and beware.

Chocolate Avocado Loaf

30 Jan

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It’s not very often I have a ripe avocado to spare. Actually I’ve never had an avocado to spare. I buy lots and eat them often but use them in baking? Pffff.

A ripe avocado is a valuable and delicious thing. Come on…avocados in smoothies? Salads? On a sandwich? Taco? Guacamole? With a fried egg? Heaven.

Well I finally sacrificed one and used it to bake…that seems to be the trend these days….

The result was obviously amazing. The bread came out moist and tender. It’s egg free too…in case you were wondering….

If you can find it in your heart to spare one of your own ripe avocados, go ahead…bake this loaf!

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It also can be made into muffins…if you like that kinda thing…

Side note: Photographing chocolate items is harder than it looks! Brown things come out looking….brown. Forgive me for not capturing the deliciousness of this baked item as well as I could have. Please know it is way better in person.

Chocolate Avocado Loaf

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon. vanilla
1 ripe avocado, smashed
1/3 cup yogurt
2/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
In a mixing bowl, cream the oil and sugar until combined. Add the applesauce, vanilla, yogurt and smashed avocado and beat until creamy. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk to the mixture, slowly beating it in. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. Pour into a loaf pan or divide into muffins (makes about 15). Bake at 350F for about an hour or until toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs. If baking muffins, bake at 400F for 15-18 minutes until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

Hazelnut Cinnamon Buns

17 Oct

Do you ever feel like whipping butter is just too much of an effort sometimes?

Reading a recipe that calls for softened or room temperature anything…does it put you off?

I can’t be the only one. There are times when I crave a chocolate chip cookie or a bundt cake (what, you don’t crave bundt cake?) but settle for a a simple quick bread or pudding.

Heck, the epitome of laziness is giving in to my secret addiction to Timbits or chocolate covered peanut mnm’s. No judgement; sometimes we just want to get the sugar to our mouths in the least amount of time with the least amount of effort.

There are, however, those times when you’ve got a big fat juicy chunk of time on your hands, plenty of baking “accoutrements” and that one baked good worth every step… every minute of your time.

I came across one of these opportunities. Of course, it was cinnamon bun time.

This recipe is a simple sweet dough, that interestingly enough calls for cream cheese to get folded in as well.

The end result is a soft but flakey, sweet and nutty mouthful of guilt ridden gooey heaven.

Sometimes, it’s just 100% worth it. Trust.

Hazelnut Cinnamon Buns

adapted from Joy the Baker

Dough

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk at room temperature

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

Combine the water with the yeast and the 1/2 tsp sugar. Stir, then wait for 10 minutes until the mixture is frothy. Add the milk, the rest of the sugar, vanilla and egg. Stir to combine, then add the flour and salt. Knead for about 4 minutes before incorporating the butter and kneading for about 6 more minutes. It will be sticky but don’t fret. Place it in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours)

Filling

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

4oz softened cream cheese

4tbsp melted butter

Combine all ingredients except for the cream cheese and butter (set that aside) Easy peasy.

Put the dough onto a well floured surface and knead well until it is no longer sticky. Let it rest for 5 minutes before rolling into a 10 by 10 inch square. Spread the cream cheese and then fold the dough into thirds. then fold into thirds the other way. Roll that out into a rectangle. Brush with butter, then spread the filling out over the whole rectangle. Roll into a log, then slice into 8 even pieces.

Place in a dish and let rise for 2 hours, or you can also refrigerate them overnight at this point.

Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes until they’re a healthy golden brown.

Brush the buns with some more melted butter when they come out of the oven, and then drizzle with icing after they’ve cooled for 5 minutes.

Icing

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup buttermilk

Vegan Banana Cherry Bread

15 Feb

Banana bread. It’s like the chocolate chip cookie of the quick bread world.

Banana bread is a staple. It’s one of those things that you just have to make every once in a while. No matter what the occasion.
Banana bread turns brown mushy bananas into something worth shedding tears of joy over.

Banana bread is such a beautiful thing, yet it’s such a simple thing. The way it looks, smells and tastes is the epitome of comfort.

Banana bread is something you give; you share it. You use it to nurture and to impress.

Banana bread is my favourite.

I want banana bread. This isn’t a new thing. I love banana bread and would have it all day every day if I could.  Don’t kid yourself, you would too: nothing to be ashamed of!

Anything super tasty and delicious should be craved 24/7. I might just go have a slice of this guy…. I made it vegan, and I threw in some frozen cherries from my picking adventures in the summer. No biggie.

Vegan Banana Cherry Bread

3 medium or 2 large ripe bananas

1/4 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup frozen cherries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas well. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract, and whisk briskly to incorporate. Sift in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.  Fold in cherries. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle with extra sugar if you’d like.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean, or with just a few crumbs. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before transferring out of a pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Don’t Make These Donuts

15 Dec

So I bought myself a donut pan for my birthday. (Which is today….by the way….no big deal!) How awesome is it to get a box of goodies in front of your door from none other than yourself! Happy birthday me!

I tried to make some super yummy chocolate cake donuts like the ones you get at Tim Hortons…

They looked pretty darned good.

They tasted….bleh.

I tried again: This time I tried to make chocolate yeasted donuts, I figured they’d be more authentic tasting and delicious.

The taste was ALMOST there. But I totally messed up and didn’t account for the rising in the oven. I should have cut the donut holes bigger….

I may or may not have collapsed with laughter while pulling these out of the oven.

Anyway.

What I’m saying, is that I’ve been working on chocolate candy cane donuts and I haven’t succeeded just yet but succeed I will.

You just sit tight. Have some coffee.

I got this.

Promise.

Apple Tarte Tatin Bread

27 Nov

Things I do before I go to bed:

1. Engage in some minor snackage.

2. Moisturize.

3. Brush teeth. More recently, rinse out the holes where my wisdom teeth once lived. (TMI?)

4. Write a to do list for the next day.

5. Set my alarm clocks. Not a typo. I have several.

6. Read a book or magazine.

7. Fantasize about upside down apple-y bread things.

Yes, it’s true. I fantasized about some sort of love child between an apple tarte tatin and bread.

I clearly had no choice but to make it come true….otherwise I’d be losing sleep over it for days.

This came out so beautifully, I think I might have outdone myself.

Picture this as some sort of amazing breakfast treat….a half sweet, chewy but fluffy bread semi-soaked in apple/caramel sauce. Does that not sound like the greatest thing? It was.

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