Avid Baker’s Challenge- Cherry Chocolate Pecan Bread

I am part of an on-line baking challenge and every month we all pick the same recipe to feature on our food blogs. This is a terrific experience to see how everyone perceives the same recipes. I have learned so many tips and tricks about baking in the short time I have been involved with it.

This month’s recipe was from the King Arthur website. A great baking resource if you have not seen it. At first I was not sure how the bread would taste, but it came out better than I expected. It reminded me of those expensive artisan breads you pay big money for at the coop.

Here’s how I did it-

I measure everything in my handy-dandy rubbermaid container. It’s part of their new line and it works perfect for one loaf of artisan bread

I have gotten quite attached to my danish dough mixer. It makes quick work of mixing

 

Here’s what the dough looks like when mixed and ready for the ferment

 

I used a 3 quart Oval pot, you can use just about anything that’s covered and sturdy

Some of the fruit did get a bit charred, but it was just on the outside, the inside was fine

 

Gotta love that no-knead formula, it works like a charm..

 

YUM I want to try it next with blue cheese, cranberries and nuts…

 

Recipe from King Arthur’s website- here is the link

 No Knead Chocolate-Cherry Pecan Bread

Place the following in a medium-to-large bowl:

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) rye flour, any type; pumpernickel is probably the most commonly available
1/2 cup (2 ounces) King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour or White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cool water

OK, first obstacle: you have neither rye nor whole wheat flour. Can you make this bread using 100% all-purpose flour?

We recommend using both, but yes, you can use 1 cup all-purpose in place of the rye and whole wheat. Or you can use 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, if you have it, in place of the rye.

How will the bread change? The flavor will be a bit less nuanced, it’ll look lighter in color, and you’ll be missing out on a bit of welcome fiber. But, like most recipes, it’s OK to amend to your own taste and circumstances.

Stir everything together to make a very soft dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; a clear shower cap is a handy choice here.

Let the dough rest at room temperature overnight, or for at least 12 hours; it’ll expand.

See the difference between the two middle photos above? That’s the kind of rise I’m talking about. Not crazy, overflow-the-bowl type rising, but slow and steady – which is what develops this bread’s great flavor.

Now, add the following:

3/4 cup chopped dried cherries or cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups diced pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

How do you toast pecans? Easiest way is simply to spread them in a single layer in a pan, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 6 to 8 minutes or so, until they’re starting to brown and smell “toasty.”

Knead the fruit, nuts, chips, and yeast into the soft dough. As you do this, try to keep the “add-ins” inside the dough; any nut, chip, or cherry poking through the top once you shape the loaf is likely to burn as the bread bakes.

Next: choose your pan. I’m going to use a 9? round cake pan here, as it’s a pan most people have. But if you have a stoneware bread crock or enameled-steel lidded Dutch oven (or a heavy, 4- to 4 1/2-quart oven-safe pot with lid), you can certainly use that. You might also try using a covered cloche.

Your goal here is to use a pan that can be covered – either with its own lid, or by another pan. The cover will trap steam as the bread bakes, giving the loaf its signature shiny, chewy crust.

 

One pan you don’t want to choose: a dark cast-iron skillet.

Well, why not? This loaf looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

On top, it sure does. But turn it over, and the loaf’s bottom crust is 1/4? of pure black char.

Take a lesson from one who’s baked this bread in cast iron: don’t go there.

 

Form the dough into a slightly flattened ball, and place it in the pan of your choice. Leave some room around the edge of the dough (photo, bottom left), as it’ll expand sideways as it rises.

Cover the dough (again, that reusable shower cap comes in handy), and let the dough rise until it’s noticeably expanded. If you’ve used a 9? cake pan, it’ll be close to hitting the edges of the pan.

This second rise could take only a couple of hours, or upwards of 5 hours or so, depending on the warmth of your kitchen, the weather, and the many other variables that affect yeast dough.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450°F. If you’re using a round cake pan, find a large oven-proof bowl, deep cast iron skillet, or something else that can serve as a cover for the bread. Keep in mind that it’ll rise a bit, so make sure your cover is tall enough.

 

Cover the bread; my 10? x 3?-deep cast iron skillet proved a suitable cover.

Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Remove the cover, and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread is golden brown.

 

The loaf’s interior should register 200°F to 205°F on an instant-read thermometer. If it’s not fully baked, return it to the oven – tenting it with foil or returning the cover, if necessary, to prevent over-browning.

When the bread is done, transfer it to a rack to cool.

Tempting as it may be, DO NOT slice into the bread until it’s completely cool! Doing so will make the sliced side of the loaf gummy.

OK, is it cool?

Slice away! See that nice open structure (read: lots of irregular holes)? Looks just like your favorite artisan loaf, doesn’t it?

And the flavor… the long, overnight rise, plus a long, slow rise once the loaf is shaped, gives the yeast a chance to produce organic acids and alcohol, both of which enhance the naturally nutty (though usually subtle) flavor of flour.

 

 

 

Changes I made in the recipe-

I only used 2 ounces of pecans

I used chopped dried cranberries instead of cherries because I live in the land of cranberries.

Is it a keeper? YES!!

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5 Responses to Avid Baker’s Challenge- Cherry Chocolate Pecan Bread

  1. Hanaa says:

    Great texture, Arlene! And I love your Danish dough whisk. I used my hands which turned pretty messy :o )

  2. I was wondering, too, when I read your description, whether a Danish dough hook would be something that I should get. You seem to like working with it. And you are right – this is a bread that you would pay quite a bit of money for, if you bought it in the store.
    Good job!

  3. Baking Soda says:

    Blue cheese? Oh my… count me in! What a wonderful combination, let us know how that worked out?
    Like you I am really happy with the dough whisk as well, at first I thought pah.. who needs that, but I am so glad to have it. It’s in constant use!

  4. Lovely bake! This recipe is a winner! Yes, I’m gonna try with different fruits next time. I like your Danish dough mixer!

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