I bake a lot. So you could be forgiven for thinking that I do that other kind of baking. You know, the useful kind. Bread baking.
You would be wrong. Bread baking frightens me. There’s all that kneading, and rising. A stone for the oven. Yeast. It’s a quagmire. And in my adult life I have always lived close to a bakery that makes good bread (sweet baked goods are another matter—quality dessert bakers are rare).
However, every six months or so I worry: can I call myself a baker without adding bread to my resume? Or am I a fraud?
Well, consider this a first step:
Don’t be fooled by the loaf pan. There was kneading and rising involved. See?
But there was also chocolate.
You guys, I love chocolate.
This recipe comes from David Lebovitz. You can find it here. In the meantime, enjoy some pictures and some baking tips.
First off, measuring flour:
My trusty measuring tools. I used to dip a measuring cup into flour to fill it, and then cut across the top with a knife. That works okay, but now I scoop flour into the cup with a tablespoon and gently shake it to let the flour settle into the cup. After filling the cup above the brim, I cut across the top with a knife. It makes for a more consistent volume of flour.
Next up, melting chocolate:
A double boiler can be easily constructed from a pot and a metal or glass bowl. Put a small amount of water in the pot (1”-2” is fine) and bring to a simmer. The bowl should not touch the water at all. Use the spatula to stir the chocolate frequently. When the mixture is smooth, take the bowl away from the pot quickly to avoid getting steam into the mixture (which can cause the chocolate to seize). I quickly wipe the bottom of the bowl with a cloth and set it to the side on a dish towel.
During this, tepid milk and yeast did their thing.
The recipe says bubbles will form on the surface after 10 to 15 minutes. This was slightly after 15 minutes, and there were barely any bubbles. Was the milk not warm enough? I am a novice at this part.
Undaunted, I continued. I changed one small part of Lebovitz’s recipe here—I used espresso instead of instant coffee or espresso powder. Several years ago A and I had to make do with espresso instead the instant version because I neglected to purchase the correct item, and guess what? It’s way better. So now I only use espresso (it helps that, as a caffeine addict, I always have it on hand).
Okay, so I used a dough hook. It’s allowed! The recipe said so. I can only try so many new things in one day.
Setting the dough aside to rise.
The rising was negligible. I worried. But I soldiered on and put the dough in the pan.
More “rising” in which the bread didn’t move.
But, you know what???
It came out okay. Better than okay.
Okay, minor confession.
It was slightly over baked. I cannot wait to replace my dark loaf pan. Seriously, dark pans are not worth the trouble.
But it was still good. And a less-than-stellar result just means I will have to try again. Right?