No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Pane al cioccolata

(Italian chocolate bread)

200g strong white flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 dessertspoon cocoa powder
125ml lukewarm liquid including 1 dessertspoon fresh yeast
2 tablespooons olive oil

100g 70% chocolate, chopped roughly

1 dsp sugar for a sugar glaze

1. Place the yeast in a measuring jug then measure up to 125ml with lukewarm water and stir to dissolve.

2. Whilst the yeast is working, place the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix the cocoa powder evenly in with the flour. When the yeast is ready, add to the mix and then pour the olive oil into the liquid in the bowl. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up!

4. Leave to prove for about an hour on your worktop, covered with a dry tea towel. Or place in an oiled plastic bag until you are ready for step 5.

5. When you are ready to proceed, place the dough on the worktop and press out into a rough circle. Place the chocolate on top of the dough and fold the dough over. Gently knead the dough to spread the chocolate evenly throughout.

6. Shape the loaf by pulling up the dough at the sides with your fingertips and pushing it down in the middle; do that all round the dough. This will have the effect of smoothing the underneath of the dough. Then turn it over and shape it into a round. Place it on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

7. Leave to prove until it has risen appreciably. Then bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 15-20 minutes. It is done when it is browned underneath. If your oven is browning the top of the loaf too fast, cover with foil or baking parchment.

8. Brush with a sugar glaze made with 1 dsp sugar and 2 dsps hot water.

Try adding some dried fruit at step five, such as dates, prunes or apricots – chopped cashew nuts or walnuts go well also!

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