Thursday, August 18, 2011

Homemade Black Bread

Ever wonder how restaurants make that delicious dark bread that they bring out before the meal?  How do they get it so soft, chewy and dark?  Is it the flour they use?  No....its not the flour.  Dark breads usually have one or more of the following ingredients: cocoa powder, instant coffee and caramel coloring.  Don't you feel cheated?  That's it.....that's where the dark color comes from.  
Today I'm going to share with you how you can make this bread at home yourself.  This bread is wonderful to make for dinner parties.  It's actually one of the shorter, easier breads to make.  You will have to start in the morning though to give yourself enough time to make it.  I like to serve it with an assortment of sides such as cinnamon-sugar butter, peach jam, and apple butter.  Your guests will be wanting more!
The recipe I use for this bread is the Honey Wheat Black Bread recipe found on the King Arthur Flour website.  In case you haven't caught on, I'm a big fan of King Arthur flour.  They simply are the best.  Try them....you'll never want to bake with anything else.  

King Arthur's Honey Wheat Black Bread:

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cups of warm water (warm but not uncomfortable to the touch)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey (I encourage using local honey)
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1 2/3 cups King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour (the recipe calls for their White Whole Wheat Flour but I just use regular Whole Wheat Flour and its fine)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa (I use dutch-process but whatever)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (I like to use raw cane sugar, the maple in it adds a little more dimension to the taste)
  • 2 tsps instant coffee 
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • *1 tbsp powdered caramel color (I never put this in because I have no idea where to get it and I don't like adding color to stuff if I don't have to)
  • 2 tsps instant yeast

Instructions (how I do it, slightly different from their directions):
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar 
  • In a separate bowel mix together the dry ingredients: both flours, salt, cocoa powder, coffee and yeast
  • With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar
  • Once they are combined, make a well in the center and add the water and honey
  • Using a dough hook, turn the mixer on medium-high speed and start mixing the dough
  • It will be a wet and shaggy dough.  
  • Knead using an electric mixer for about 10 minutes
  • Side note: I find I usually have to add a few more tablespoons of flour during the kneading process.  Otherwise the dough is just too slack (wet) to work with
  • Once the dough is kneaded, transfer to an oiled bowel.  It will be very slack.  It helps to oil or flour your hands to transfer it.
  • Cover the dough with a damp dish towel and let rise for at least an hour.  I usually let it go 2-3hrs (because hey, I'm busy)
  • After its doubled in size, dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface
  • You can then shape the dough how you like.  The original recipe calls for making six "mini loaves."  In this instance, I just made two smaller loaves.
  • Once the loaves are shaped how you want them, rest them on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with a damp dishcloth for 1 hour (I wouldn't go much past one hour, otherwise the dough will spread too much)
  • After the dough has rested ~1 hour, but the pan in a pre-heated oven at 350 F (If making a larger loaf I suggest increasing the temp to 375 F).  Depending on the size of the loaves you are making it can take 25-40 minutes for the bread to bake.  I split this dough in half and made two loaves, so it took about 35 minutes.  Smaller loaves would take a shorter amount of time
  • Side note: this bread gets very brown in the oven.  You may want to keep an eye on it and with about 10 minutes left in the baking process, "tent" the bread with some aluminum foil to keep the surface from browning too much.  
  • Keep in mind this bread won't get really "hard" like other breads in the oven.  Its a very soft bread.  Yummy!

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