Friday, October 7, 2011

Chocolate Bread!

I am trying really hard to go back to the once-a-week baking rule, but it's so hard now that the weather is cold. Plus work is so boring all I do is think about food! It's terrible, it's really true! I get bored at work and start thinking of what I can cook or bake that day, or if that day is already planned I will go on and plan the next day or the week, I'll write a shopping list and look at recipes. Then I begin writing my next planned blog post, so at work I will write about the food I will be making that evening and then as I cook I will fill in the recipe detail and add a photo. Right now I am at work and should be concentrating on something else! Instead I am looking forward to baking bread this evening, because that way I get to bake but it doesn't break the rule. It really doesn't, like any other bread there is very little fat and sugar, just enough for the yeast to thrive. Yet it is chocolate bread! I'm not sure how chocolatey it will taste, it just has a little cocoa in it, but I imagine it will make really good toast.

I read a news article the other day about over-eating and the obesity epidemic and it discussed how traditional diets are not suitable because they don't address the reason for the over-eating. Like you can be an obsessive eater, or a compulsive eater, or even worse you can be both! So I am not the only one! Luckily despite being obsessed I am not over-weight, but if I want to stay that way I really must get a handle on the once-a-week rule. And stop indulging in hot-chocolates, cakes and pizza. I know that the real answer is plenty of exercise but that's a bit hard when you are stuck in freezing cold Galway. I do of course try to attempt healthy baking sometimes, because a lot of the people that I offer things to at work always say no, they are on a diet! Diets are so awful! Considering the amount of sweet things I publish, I guess my blog may seem to be a bit of an anti-diet crusade. It's really not though, I'm all for being healthy, but it's OK to have a biscuit or muffin sometimes. Just don't eat the whole batch!

However if you are feeling peckish and trying to avoid the bad stuff, there really is nothing wrong with toast. Carbs may be 'bad' but you need some at least, and if you are watching your weight stick to wholegrain flour and use a mix of grains, like wheat, oats, rye, barley or corn. Apparently we should have 6 servings of whole-grains a day. That seems like so much! I try to eat healthy but I don't reckon there's many days that I manage to have so much. Unfortunately today I do not have wholemeal flour, but in order to add a bit of grainy goodness to my bread I am going to replace some of the flour with rolled oats, like I do for my raisin bread. I reckon that the real trick to replacing bad snacks with toast is to not slather it with an inch-thick layer of butter. There is something we do back home people from 'over-seas' often find unusual and that is to have mashed banana on toast. It's great, and banana and chocolate are a really good combination! Another thing that we would do in my family that people find really weird is to have tomato sauce and a slice of ham on toast, though that really would not be suitable on today's bread. When I was small we weren't often allowed to have food that was all sugar, so that ruled out lollypops, candyfloss and boiled sweets. Yet for some reason my dad had no problem with spreading golden syrup on toast! Now that might be good on chocolate bread!

Chocolate Bread

300 ml warm water
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
10 grams fresh yeast (or dry equivalent)
350 grams strong white flour
100 grams rolled oats
25 grams cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt

Combine warm water with oil, sugar and yeast. Leave it to sit for 5 minutes until the surface has frothy bits on it.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients (sift everything except the flour), then pour the liquid in. Mix with a spoon at first until everything is incorporated. Sprinkle a bit of flour onto your bench/worksurface (make sure it is clean!) and then turn the dough out onto the bench. You may need to add a handful of flour or so as you knead until you have a dough that is not too sticky - it should not come away on your hands. Knead it for about 10 minutes.

When your dough is ready take the large bowl that you mixed it in and sprinkle a little bit of flour around the inside of it. Place your dough in, cover it and leave it to rise for an hour or more, until it is doubled in size. Then sprinkle more flour on the bench and scoop the dough out of the bowl. Press all of the air out of it, but don't go so far as to knead it properly. It should only take about a minute. Then quickly rub some oil in your loaf tin and press the dough into it. Cover it and let it rise another 30 minutes.

Turn the oven on when you have put the dough into the loaf tin, so that it is hot when the dough is ready. 200 degrees celsius should be good. Throw your loaf into the hot oven and bake for 30 minutes.

The result: bread that tastes like chocolate. It is not sweet, just sort of cocoa-y. I of course wouldn't mind it a bit sweeter but that would sort of change it from bread to something else. The chocolate taste is not too strong but I would definitely only spread this bread with sweet things. It smells really chocolatey too. So now it's time for me to go and have a piece of toast so that I can start my day with chocolate. This recipe, by the way, came from a cookbook that has no author's name, it's an Irish one called the Home Baking Cookbook. And I sort of changed it just a little and made it my own so I'm really not plagarising anything.

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