So, I have been kind of addicted to making bread every weekend. It's nice to have as a snack, for a light breakfast, or if it a savory bread, nice for dipping into pasta sauces and such. Yum. Anyways, I have made some additions to Jim Lahey's No-Work Bread recipe, as found in Mark Bittman's book and originally presented on this blog here.
Last week, I made an almond and raisin-filled loaf for Ben's parents, and wanted to make another sweet loaf for myself. I still had plenty of almonds and thought that dried cherries would make a nice compliment to them. The dark chocolate was just for the hell of it.
Cherry Almond Chocolate Bread:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
2 tbsp. 5-grain cereal grain
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1-2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped into little pieces
1/4 tsp. yeast
1-2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup dried cherries
6 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
Begin by combining the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, including the yeast and almonds. You may omit the wheat gluten and cereal if you wish. They were added to boost texture and nutrition, as the vital wheat gluten is rich in protein.
Put the dried cherries in a bowl, add a splash of water, cover, and heat in the microwave for about 2 minutes to soften and re-hydrate the cherries. Place the cherries and the liquid in a measuring cup with the brown sugar and almond extract, and add cold water, filling the measuring cup to the 2-cup line.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing with a spoon. The mixture will be shaggy, and does not need to be particularly perfectly blended, as the long rising time will make the mixture more homogenous. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into the largest mixing bowl in your kitchen, and then add the bread dough, taking care to scrape as much dough from the bowl as possible.
Cover, and allow the dough to rise for at least 12 hours and up to 18 hours. Prepare a work surface with a liberal amount of flour, and pour out the risen dough. Work the dough lightly, kneading a couple of times in order to shape the dough into a nice round shape, and let the dough rise for 2 more hours on a floured cotton towel.
Heat your oven to 450 degrees with a large dutch oven or stock pot inside, for 30 minutes. Once the oven is heated, carefully flop the bread dough inside, using the cloth to your advantage (this part takes some practice). Recover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the bread is well-browned. Let the bread cool for at least 20 minutes before eating.