Cooking my way through Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets, plus other treats I come up with
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I can handle tarts, cakes, gelatin, and caramel, and I'm damn proud of my ice cream. But I have a serious handicap. I'm very, very afraid of yeast.
I purchased a bread machine two years ago, after a friend raved about his fluffy, freshly baked loafs. For the initial run, I carefully followed the directions in the manufacturer's manual for basic white bread. I closed the lid and hoped for a puffy, bouncy white loaf. For some reason, my bread came out tough and dense and smelling suspiciously of yeast gone wrong. I made a few more attempts, but every time the bread came out tough as a brick. Maybe it was the yeast, even though I bought fresh packets every time. Maybe it was the humidity in the apartment. Maybe it was the altitude (I lived on the twenty-fourth floor then). Maybe I simply forgot to make an offering to the wild yeast lord.
I've had somewhat better luck with sweet yeast breads. It only took me two attempts before I made respectable cinnamon buns (to the fair, the first time was a total disaster). I still haven't mustered up the courage to tackle kouign amanns, but someday, their salty crunchy caramel goodness shall be mine...
So why am I making bread? From scratch no less?
See if you can resist this post. I love David Lebovitz. What's there not to love about a man who 1) lives in Paris and 2) makes ice cream? Seriously. But this chocolate bread is something else. It's such a refreshing change from all the heavyweight ganache-filled desserts with the word chocolate attached to their names. It's sophisticated even, with all the chocolate and coffee in the yeast dough (okay, the sophistication kind of takes a hit when you add all the nuts and chocolate chunks, but it's still charming!)
What's really exciting, though, is that my yeast did their job. Here's the dough before the all important "rise".
Here's the dough, two hours later. It's alive!
Then you stir in all sorts of goodies. David called for only dark chocolate, but I added in some white for contrast.
Let the dough rise a second time in the pan before sending it to the oven...
... and you'll be greeted by bready, chocolately goodness 40 minutes later.
This is not a fluffy, wimpy bread. It's dense and filled with chocolate and nuts (come to think of it, dried fruit would be nice too). It's delicious toasted, accompanied by a cup of black coffee (for the adult-minded) or cold milk (wheeeeeee!)
Oh yeah, does anyone want a slightly-used bread machine?