I live in a neighborhood of seventeen houses and twenty- two children (the odds are against me). I’ve tested this recipe on many of my adult neighbors and they love it, but it was the children who seemed extra-excited and intrigued by the large, round chocolate loaf. One curly- yellow-haired girl in particular would punch through the crust with her #ngers when she thought no one was looking and scoop out a chunk of the soft chocolate center to eat. The young girl’s name is Anne Chaddock, and she is a supergirl who runs the neighborhood fueled by my Chewy Chocolate Bread!
Chewy Chocolate Bread
(loads of chocolate but barely sweet)
yields 1 loaf
1⁄2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1⁄3 cup sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1⁄3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1⁄3 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1⁄4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal, for dusting
1⁄2 cup good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar, mixing with your finger until the yeast is dissolved. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, until the yeast begins to foam. With the mixer on low speed, add 1 1⁄4 cups room-temperature water, the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix just until the dough is blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest at warm room temperature for 8 hours (I like to do this overnight).
Line a baking sheet with a kitchen towel that has been dusted with cornmeal. Set aside.
Turn the dough out onto a liberally floured work surface and pour the chocolate chunks over the top. Sprinkle with more flour before folding the dough over itself a few times to evenly distribute the chocolate. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it, seam side down, to the prepared baking sheet. Dust the top of the dough ball with cornmeal, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Place a heavy cast-iron (or ceramic) 6- to 8-quart pot with a lid in the oven to heat until the oven comes to temperature.
Carefully remove the heated pot from the oven and place the dough in it (seam side up or down—it doesn’t matter). Don’t worry if it looks like a hot mess; it will bake up beautifully. Brush the dough with water and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Cover the pot and return it to the oven to bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake for another 20 minutes, or until the loaf is a gorgeous dark brown and gives a dull sound when thumped. Let the bread cool before eating.