Chocolate Coconut Bread

Choc Coconut Bread2I know the title of this recipe sounds so ho-hum, but I think this recipe was given as a heavenly gift to us all. I have had to restrain myself from making it every single night (which is partly because of Katie Couric’s documentary about childhood obesity in America, Fed Up. Very good information. Glad I watched it. Can’t wait till my ten-day sugar fast is over, because I will be making this the first minute I can!) I usually stir this together right before bed and bake it in the morning (the weekend is a perfect time for this, of course), and then eat it all day long. My favorite story about this bread: I gave a loaf to my aunt, and she had a polite amount after dinner, and we left. Later that week, she told me she had woken up at 3:30 a.m. the next morning and thought, “is it irrational to get out of bed at this hour to go have another slice of this bread?” and decided it was. She went back to sleep, and then at 6:30 decided it was acceptable behavior to get out of bed. For bread. I love it. This recipe comes from Jim Lahey’s My Bread (thank you, thank you!).

Chocolate Coconut Bread

2 c. plus 2 T.  (280 grams) bread flour
2 c., loosely packed (100 grams)  large flake unsweetened coconut [I actually prefer the smallest shred possible. It disappears in the bread but gives it great chew.]
1 c. (150 grams) bittersweet chocolate chunks
3/4 t. (4 grams) salt
1/4 t. instant yeast or 1/2 c. sourdough starter
1 1/4 c. (280 grams) room temperature water

  1. [The night before you bake] In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, half of the coconut, the chocolate, salt, and yeast [If you use the smallest shred coconut, you can add it all at once, which I prefer]. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is puffy and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.
  2. When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece.  Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.
  3. Place a tea towel surface and generously dust it with wheat bran or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal or flour. Lightly sprinkle the surface with the remaining ½ cup coconut. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.
  4. Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place a covered 4 ½ -to 5 ½ -quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.
  5. Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up.  Cover the pot and bake for 40 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 20 to 25 minutes more.
  7. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

A perfect recipe for breadmaking newbies

Lahey Bread 1
I’ve been trying just about every no-knead and sourdough start recipe I can find for the last year, and I know this is one of the most famous, but it’s also really, really good. The appearance isn’t quite as impressive as some of the others (I usually don’t get good wings on the loaf, and it doesn’t sit up high), but the crumb is fantastic. It usually has a good amount of holes and a great chew to it–and never seems dry. It’s also, amazingly, just as fresh the second day as it is the first, especially when using a start. I love this recipe and would encourage anyone, especially new-comers to bread baking, to try this. There’s really no reason not to! Interesting to note: the recipe I’ve found online has a different ratio of water than the one from Jim Lahey’s book. I’m sticking to the one in his book here, but I do occasionally have to add more water to work in the arid climate I live in.

Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Crusty Bread (with option for a start)

  • 3 cups  flour
  • 1 1/3 cups water ( or up to 1 1/2 c.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast OR 1/2 c. sourdough start
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Nonstick spray

* special equipment – a 6-8 quart pot with lid, such as an enameled cast iron dutch oven (I have both a cloche and an old dutch oven without legs and they both work great, but do lend to different characteristics in the appearance.)

  1.  Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Lightly coat the inside of another medium bowl with nonstick spray and place the dough in the bowl (I actually mix mine in a large food-grade bucket, then I just cover it with the lid).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 12 hours at room temperature ( 65-72 ℉).
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice.  Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface.  Next, shape the dough into a ball.  Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour.  [Instead, I always shape it and then place it on a piece of parchment paper, which I have set in a small (8″) skillet. I then spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick spray and cover the loaf.] Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours, until more than doubled in size.
  3. Place the dutch oven onto a middle or lower rack in the oven, and heat the oven to 450-500℉.  Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough inside, seam side up.  Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15-30 minutes until the loaf is nicely browned. The bread slices the best if it sits an hour or so before serving it.Lahey Bread 2

Practically No-Knead Crusty Bread

No Knead Crusty Bread


Probably some of you have been acquainted with no-knead artisan bread, for which several recipes have been popping up for lately. The idea is that for very little work, you can make an incredible, Seven-Stars-Bakery-like loaf. And it’s true. But, there are many recipes out there with different tactics. This recipe lowers the water ratio from most of the other recipes, making the loaf much rounder, and adds vinegar, giving it a slight tang. It also adds beer to enhance the yeast flavor of the dough. It’s excellent and beautiful as it is, so I’m posting the original, but it’s also not a very large round, so I’m going to experiment with it a little to see if I can change ratios that will work better for what my family will eat in one sitting. I also either want the whole bottle of beer to be used in one loaf, or to eliminate the need for it (since no one here drinks it!). Anyway,  I’ll comment on how the experimenting goes!

Note: You need to have a dutch oven in order to get a truly crusty bread. A run-of the mill one will do (the type you’ve seen at campfires) as will Le Creuset’s or other cast-iron pots. Apparently, Target has a great Le Creuset knock-off line for a fraction of the cost. And, they come in great colors.

Practically No-Knead Crusty Bread

3 c. all-purpose flour (you can substitute 1 c. whole wheat flour for 1 c. all-purpose)
1/4 t. instant yeast (I always use 1/2 t. to get a better dome)
1 t. salt (I prefer 1 1/2 t.)
3/4 c. water, at room temperature
1/2 c. mild-flavored beer (non-alcoholic beer works well, too)
1 T. white vinegar

Whisk the flour, yeast, and salt together. Add the liquid ingredients and stir to combine (this dough is very dry, but make sure to combine the flour crumbs, using your hands if necessary, so there are no lumps in the dough). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight 8-16 hours.

Place a piece of parchment paper in a 10-12″ skillet and spray with Pam. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 times until its smooth and round. Pull the dough into a tight ball by bringing all edges into the middle and pinching them together (this will be the bottom of the loaf). Place the loaf onto the parchment paper, and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Thirty minutes before baking, place a dutch oven on the bottom rack of your oven, with the lid on (make sure the lid has no plastic parts, or they will melt). Preheat the oven to 500 degrees (if possible :)). When loaf has finished rising, dust it with flour, make an “x” on the top with a very sharp knife, remove the lid to the dutch oven, and using the parchment paper as handles, lower the loaf into the dutch oven, keeping the parchment paper under the loaf. Cover with the lid, and then lower the temperature to 425 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. Then, remove lid, and continue to bake for 20 minutes longer. You can then sit and marvel that you made, so simply, a gorgeous loaf of crusty bread.

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen 2009 AnnualSliced No-Knead Artisand White Bread