A Hybrid of Tastes, Textures and Techniques

Baker/Caker friends are the best people in the world, ever sharing, ever giving. Last week, I made a Chocolate Challah with yeast, and was thinking whether it could be converted to sourdough. Since my query, not only did I get advice to increase the yeast level for cocoa-based breads, I also got a lovely  (waving hands….”Thanks, Jeremy!”) for a chocolate bread, which sounded irresistible and truly decadent. A chocoholic never need excuses to make anything chocolate.

Small changes were made to the recipe - there were no dried cherries in our neck of the woods, so I used dried honeyed roselle. The yeast was reduced from 25g to 18g while the levain (which, incidentally, was raring to go) was increased to 200g. The 850g flour was a combination of 500g organic unbleached plain flour and 350g strong flour. And, I used brown sugar instead of white - our area is experiencing a sugar shortage at the moment. Incomprehensible!

With our kitchen temperature at 32 degrees Celsius, this baby grew at a startling rate, into the hugest monster dough I’ve ever seen. Too fast, too fast! After barely 2 hours of bulk fermentation, I quickly split and shaped the dough into 2 boules and 1 baton, and hastily popped them into the fridge. These were taken out to be baked one by one after one hour and beyond, since my oven couldn’t accomodate them all at one go. Even with such a short proving duration (and in a colder environment at that), the bread was slightly over-proved….spring was so-so. However, daughter #1 could still tell it was sourdough….Yes!

This was a bread chocful (sic) of tastes. There was bitter from the cocoa, slight sweetness from the sugar, sour from the levain and roselle, and a just discernible saltiness. If I were to compare this with the chocolate challah (hmm..apples and oranges, I know), this had a better mouthfeel…wonderful chew. The bread was dangerously light in texture; you don’t realise yourself reaching for another piece and yet another piece.

Mental note of tweaks for my next go at it:

1. Reduce the amount of cocoa. The bread was slightly too rich (too heaty) for us. Herbal drinks would be in order for today and the next.

2. Reduce the yeast and increase the levain further to try slow down the process.

3. May have to bulk-ferment in the fridge, overnight. I’m aiming for more sourness.

4. Next overseas trip. Buy dried cherries. I can imagine how nice it’ll make the bread slices look. As you can see…or rather cannot see…the chopped up roselles hardly feature in the bread, although one can taste them.

(authored 2006)

 

3 comments

That looks beautiful TP!  Can you do without the yeast altogether?  Can I post you dried cherries?

KC

That was posted 3 yrs ago...phew...time flies! By now, I think there should be some decent dried cherries (somewhere here!!...I hope). I've bought it once, small shrivelled-up stuff with seeds. Do your dried cherries come de-seeded?

Funny, how time changes one's perspective on things. 3 yrs ago, I call anything with sourdough in it, sourdough. Now, I'd call it yeasted sourdough even if there's a tiny bit of baker's yeast. Can one make this choc challah fully sourdough? I haven't tried that, but, if I were to attempt it, I'd reduce the cocoa. Thanks for bumping this up, KC, I must have another go at it.

 

 

Hi TP, I was just browsing the site thinking about my possible re-location to SE-Asia and for some reason came across this old post of yours. I have not looked for the recipe but I will tell you my favorite trick for working with cocoa. When I was in Singapore helping out friends start a Western Vegetarian Cafe/bakery/artspace I had to make what could be argued (for marketing reasons) to be the best Vegan chocolate brownie on the island. What really made it shine was using Cocoa butter for the shortening. This is not a type of fat that is easy to get in Australia and as far as I know Europe so it is not used much except by specialists. You should be able to get it easily in Malaysia from your local equivalent of the singaporean Redman (Phoon Huat) baking supplies. If I do end up back in Singapore or generally your part of the world (my grandmother and family are in SG but my girlfriend is an australian Indonesian studies type) I'll contact you. I suspect there are some techniques in making sourdough breads in 90% humidity that you have developed. Regards, Chow