29 December 2009
Chocolate Cherry Bread
My husband ate the entire loaf of chocolate cherry bread the minute I brought it in the door. He was so excited to see it at the bottom of the bag. I only make it once in a blue moon because no one buys it. I can't say no one because there are customers who consider this bread their favorite. There's actually a list of people we have to call when it appears on the bread line. These people will reserve 4 loaves at a time. They know how great this bread is! I think it is one of those things that you have to try before you form an opinion. The idea of chocolate bread is hard to grasp.
The flavors in this bread complement each other well. The chocolate comes from a dark Valrohna cocoa powder. It isn't sweet, just chocolatey. There are also bittersweet chocolate chunks throughout the interior crumb. I mix in a couple shots of espresso which bring out the chocolate flavor and add a bit of robustness. The dried sour cherries are soaked overnight in a mixture or brandy, kirsh and sweet cherry juice. The dough also includes a healthy dose of sour culture and pate fermente. These add to the longevity as well as the flavor of the bread. Though this bread is technically a sourdough, the sour is not an 'upfront' flavor. If you can resist eating the whole loaf straight out of the bag, this bread makes great French toast or bread pudding. I like to spread mascarpone cheese on a warm slice.
This is not my original creation. I have added to the different formulas I've encountered but the idea of it comes from Nancy Silverton of La Brea bakery in LA. By all accounts, she was the 1st to bake and sell this bread. Amy's Bread has a version that is made on the weekends. She also makes small, roll size loaves every day at the Hell's Kitchen location. Wegmans ssells a chocolate cherry bread as well. The management at Wegmans thought it was a good idea to have the bakers stand out in the store and give samples of this bread to customers. None of the bakers were really known for their people skills (hey---they're bakers, not salesman!). The higher-ups would tell us the selling qualities of each kind of loaf before sending us out to the floor. They would always say, "this one is great toasted with butter," as if there is a bread that isn't great toasted with butter. One of the bakers, Dave, said that he was going to tell customers the chocolate cherry bread makes a great tuna sandwich. Every time I bake this bread, I think of tuna sandwiches and have a little laugh thanks to Dave and Wegmans.
I attended an event for the Patisserie last year and this was one of the breads I brought for everyone to try. One lady exclaimed "this bread sounds sooo gross but it's really good." I don't know why it gets such a bad rap because it is quite fabulous. It also ships well and keeps longer than most loaves (again, if you can manage to not eat the whole thing in one sitting). That's my sales pitch for one of my favorite breads! I'll send out a bulletin next time I plan on making a batch. I made a suprise, impromtu batch on Christmas Day. As mentioned, my husband was thrilled!