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cherry chocolate bread

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Cherry chocolate bread

I’ve been inspired by one of those YouTube videos showing bread making. It’s thoroughly fascinating to watch enormous amounts of dough being kneaded, flipped this way and that, rolled and unrolled, stretched and twisted, going for a ride on conveyor belts or twirling and swirling in gigantic vats. The one I’m taking about was from a bakery in Anchorage, Alaska, with bread dough rising magically from the worktops. Completely enthralling.

This is a recipe using a sourdough starter but – unless you’re a sourdough fanatic – it’s easy to adopt it for commercial yeast. I’m convinced the taste isn’t affected – though I’ve yet to try both versions side by side, as there’s no other way of properly comparing the two. As much as sourdough bread is unparalleled in flavour, sweet dough or tea cakes just need to be airy and tasty. I have a strong suspicion that there’s a lot of snobbery going on in the sourdough world.

Cherry and chocolate brioche

How to adopt this and other formulae for yeasted versions? Easy: starter is usually half liquid half flour so increase those ingredients amounts. My cherry bread calls for 150g of starter so you will need 75g more flour and 75g liquid – buttermilk in this instance, but water would be fine too. How much yeast? For sweet dough it will normally be about 10g fresh or a teaspoon of instant yeast per 250g of flour, increased for very rich dough like panettone.

Bread making is funny like that – complete black magic and hocus-pocus when uninitiated. But once you know your way around the starters, levains (and learn how to pronounce them) or ferments you find you can experiment, ad lib and succeed. Of course sometimes you will follow a ten times tried and twenty times tested recipe and it will result in a cannonball-textured pancake, but that’s precisely what makes it interesting…



  • INGREDIENTS
  • 150g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
  • 230g buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 30g honey
  • 230g strong white bread flour
  • 200g plain flour
  • 3g fine salt
  • 30g warm whole milk
  • 100g glace cherries, quartered
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 100g white chocolate chips
  • 100g flaked almonds

METHOD

Disperse the starter in the buttermilk; add the honey and stir to dissolve. Add both flours and mix with your hands, a dough whisk or in a standing mixer briefly, just until the dry flour is incorporated. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 30-40 minutes.

Add the salt and milk and knead or mix in a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and stops sticking to your hands. Cover with the tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Sweet sourdough

Lightly oil your hands and fold dough by grabbing the underside of the dough at one quadrant and stretching it up over the rest of the dough. Repeat this action 3 more times, rotating bowl a quarter turn for each fold. Do this every half an hour 4 times more. The dough should increase in volume about 30 percent.

In the meantime prepare the cherry chunks by dusting them with the 1 tsp of flour in a small bowl. Add the chocolate chips and almonds and mix together.

Rolling cherry chocolate bread

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and shape into a tight ball. Cover with a tea towel and let it rest for another 30 minutes. Now roll it out to a rough rectangle 20 x 30cm and sprinkle the chocolate-cherry mix all over. Roll it along the shorter edge into fat tight sausage. Place it, seam down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cover and leave for 1 hour in a warm place to rise.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Score the bread lightly and bake for 35-40 minutes, lowering the oven temperature to 190C after 30 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack before slicing, but it’s the best still slightly warm.

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