Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chocolate Expresso Bread

Chocolate Expresso Bread
--either I "killed" it, or invented something new! :)

One of the mid-February projects for the "Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day" group is to bake a loaf of the Chocolate Expresso Bread recipes in the book.

I ended up making this recipe twice. The first time, I made half a recipe. It never rose, and I don't know why. I am not sure if I used too much salt. I tested the yeast, and it was viable. I wrote my wonderful co-bakers. They reminded me that sometimes it just doesn't pay to try to fix it. So I tossed it, and went on to make the other recipe for the assignment. When that didn't rise, I thought I would try this bread again with a fresh container of yeast.

Other people in the group had mixed results with this bread. I decided to make 1/4th of the recipe--only one loaf. Someone else said their bread turned out like a cookie dough when they did 1/4th of the recipe. I spent a bit of time figuring out if there was a substantial difference between the bakers' percentage method and dividing the recipe in half. There wasn't much of a difference. Well, it was good to practice scaling with bakers' percentage.

I decided to make the bread again this Sunday morning. I love baking, it relaxes me and puts me in another world. But sometimes I try to bake without giving full attention to the recipe.

Everything was ok until I got to the liquids. I was really careful to use the amount I wrote in the column for 1/4th the recipe. I was weighing everything out on my scale.

I decided to use my jar of instant expresso powder, instead of brewed coffee. I was wondering if the brewed coffee in the first recipe was too hot, and killed the yeast. I hadn't used this product since I made a loaf of pumpernickel bread in December, so I decided to read the directions. It said to use 1 rounded teaspoon for 3 ounces of water! AHA! I think I figured out why my pumpernickel loaf in December wasn't dark enough!!! I didn't use enough expresso powder! I had written Jeff and Zoe, the book's authors, in December and we couldn't figure out why the loaf wasn't dark enough. So I figured I would run to the computer and share this discovery on their blog. Big mistake...

When I got back to the baking after posting on their blog, my concentration was broken. I wasn't looking carefully at the "1/4 batch" column of my scribbled pad. After making large batches of dough, a total of 2 1/4cups of liquid didn't seem out of line.

Right after I began mixing the dough, I realized what had happened. It stirred up more like cake batter than bread. Even after adding the chocolate chips (I almost forgot them!) it was thin. I wrote the group on the email list, and got some encouragement to try baking it.

My instinct was to add some baking soda or baking powder and turn this batter into a quick bread. However, I didn't know how those ingredients would react to the yeast that was already in the recipe. I got out my heart shaped pan; it's romantic, chocolate and Valentine's Day. It isn't a non-stick pan, so I sprayed the pan with non-stick spray and hoped for the best. I preheated the oven and baked it until a thermometer registered over 180 degrees. I saw some wet spots, but I think it was the melted chocolate chips.

I wish I had been more patient about waiting 10 minutes before trying to take it out of the pan. Maybe the heat of the pan would have loosened the bread. The bread was stuck to the pan. I ran a knife around the edge to loosen it. When I flipped the pan over, the middle was still stuck to the bottom. Only the edge came out.

Here's the bread
after it was all removed from the pan:

I noticed that the middle was the moist area. When we ate some of it, it seemed like all the chocolate chips migrated to the bottom middle of the pan.

How did it taste? By itself, we gave the bread a 7 out of 10 rating. A 10 rating is fabulous. We might not make a 7-rated recipe again.

Michelle, our fearless leader, emailed that maybe this recipe might be the basis for a pancake recipe using strawberries and granache. Pancakes might work.

We started taking things out of the fridge to try with the bread. I tried margarine and then strawberry jam. Both were pretty good. My husband (I didn't tell him about Michelle's pancake idea) said, "I wonder how this would taste with maple syrup?" After tasting it with maple syrup, he said it tasted like a chocolate pancake. With any of the additional toppings, we gave it an 8.

We tried it again the next night, after it had cooled completely. The taste wasn't that much different. I had a chance to try it with maple syrup. My hubby said, "it's a brown bread that wants to be a dessert."

With a little work, this could be a fancy chocolate pancake for a Sunday brunch. I think a lot of wonderful inventions happen by "mistake." Well, I am glad I named part of my blog name "test kitchen!" :) . Because if you are learning something from your test, it really isn't a total flop!

If you would like to see the other recipes made by other people in this group, just click on this link:

HBinFive is hosted by Michelle
Big Black


  1. Judy...I was cracking up reading your post. You are so funny!!

    Actually I'm intrigued with the Chocolate Pancake idea and might try it out this week.


  2. You are one determent baker. It sounds like this recipe was trying to get the better of you but you stuck with it. These coming recipes sound like they will be real good. Something to look forward too.

  3. Sounds like you made the best of your "mistake". Chocolate pancakes would be delish!

  4. If you make chocolate pancakes I would suggest baking soda, or something like that, instead of yeast. It could really be special!

  5. Judy, so funny. Just a note about the chocolate chips sinking. They will, especially in softer doughs. Before I add my chips I toss them in some flour to help them stick in the dough. You should do this with fruit for muffins too. Just take about 1 Tabs. of your flour out of the amount you will use in your recipe and use it to toss your chips or fruit. When you add them to your dough be sure to get "all of the flour, even the part that doesn't stick to your chips or fruit and add it back in. It will help the chips float and not sink.

  6. Oh my, what a post! You are determined. I love the "test kitchen". Chocolate pancakes would be a big hit in my house.

  7. Wow, thanks for the compliments!

    Bonnie, thanks for the chocolate chips/fruit/flour trick.

  8. Sigh. This seems like a series of unfortunate events! At least you guys managed to fix it up in the end. You certainly did use some ingenuity!

  9. Glad my oven quit tonight, instead of last night! Sigh!

  10. oh bless you I tried to make Vietnamese pancakes this week and it was a failure but we cooks never give up lol

  11. I've voting for the chocolate pancake!! haha...but I see where you're husband is coming from "....wants to be a dessert"... perfect description

  12. I'm totally agreeing with Danielle. I think you're probably on your way to a delicious dessert discovery! :)

  13. I'll go with the "invented something new" idea! Chocolate pancakes sound wonderful!

  14. I'm glad this one earned it's way up to the ranking of an 8. I really liked it. I'm liking that pancake idea! ;)

  15. I love this post. I quit trying to make 1/4 or 1/2 batches of breads because I don't know how many times I have done what you did...get distracted and then add full amt of ingredients. The only thing I would have done different is go ahead and add the difference in the full amt recipe. But you did great and I also love the chocolate pancake recipe idea. Wouldn't that make a great dessert with raspberries on top?