Some day I will be a perfect baker: the cakes I bake will rise to the skies, the bread will have the perfect balance of crust and crumb, and every muffin will be picture perfect. That day appears to be far, far into the future. For now, my baked goods have a "rustic" look that only their own baker could love, and I regularly forget to do essential steps like adding the vanilla or sifting the flour. Here is my latest attempt at baking...using one of my favorite summer fruits- cherries- in a decadent breakfast roll. My favorite way of eating cherries is straight out of hand. This time last year, I was in Seattle, eating my way through huge bags of plump, sweet cherries bought from local farmer's markets. However, I also love the pairing of cherry with chocolate and was excited to try this recipe. For warm, fresh rolls in the morning, start the dough the night before.
Chocolate Cherry Bread
(adapted from this recipe from Vegetarian Times, makes about 16 small rolls)
1. Mix 1 cup warm water, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 packet instant yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes or until yeast gets activated and foamy.
2. In a large bowl, sift together 2 and 1/3 cup AP flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp salt.
3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, add the flour mixture. Pour the yeast mixture on this. Add 1 tablespoons melted butter. Process the whole thing into a smooth and elastic dough (takes 2-3 minutes).
4. Take the dough onto a well-floured surface, knead briefly and pat down to a square.
Until this point, everything was picture perfect, the dough had a wonderful texture and I was rather pleased with myself.
5. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used bittersweet) and 1 and 1/2 cups chopped pitted fresh cherries or frozen thawed cherries (could also use 1 cup dried cherries). Knead to distribute them within the dough.
Now this is where things got interesting. I had some frozen cherries in the freezer and decided to use those. I did thaw them out and set them in a strainer to drain the extra juices, but apparently, the thawing time was not enough. When I added the cherries to the dough, in the matter of a few seconds, my beautiful dough became a squelchy wet mess, thanks to the excess liquid from the cherries. I was horrified to say the least, but unwilling to toss it out, I carried on with the recipe.
6. Set the dough in a large bowl for a 1 and 1/2 hour rise. Then, punch it down and set it, covered, in the fridge overnight.
7. Next morning, shape the dough into a log and make 16 equal pieces (divide the log into fourths, then each quarter into fours). Shape each piece into a ball and set on a non-stick baking sheet. Let it rise for 45 minutes.
All of these steps were very difficult with the ultra-wet dough, and I only managed to shape the dough into rough lumps, not the perfect rolls of my dreams!
8. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes. Because of the chocolate, it is difficult to see if the rolls have been browned, so I inserted a toothpick to see if the rolls were done. Serve warm, with a cup of your favorite beverage!
Verdict: At the end of this rather stressful process, I was rewarded with a tasty treat, to my immense relief. The dough might have been very wet, but during the baking, it dried off and the resulting rolls had a dry exterior. I am really glad that I did not give up half-way and end up throwing good food away. The roll was tender and delicious, and extremely chocolate-y! The roll was studded with melted pockets of chocolates (from the chocolate chips) and little cherry bites. Very delicious!
I will definitely be making this again, BUT with an important difference: I will use either fresh cherries (only if they are NOT over-ripe and too juicy) or stick to good old dried cherries. I would like to try this bread with white whole-wheat flour next time. As I was writing this post, I discovered that fellow blogger Pavani has a much more successful version of this bread on her blog. If you like the combination of fruit and chocolate, this bread is for you: the perfect special brunch treat!
See you on Sunday, with the R of Indian Vegetables. Entries are due on Saturday for anyone who wishes to participate!