Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sourdough CocoNana Bread (or Just Another Reason Why I Love Dorie Greenspan)

I'm sure that it's no secret that I love Dorie Greenspan. I don't really know of anyone who loves to bake who doesn't, and I think it's because in addition to her very likable personality, she also writes impeccable recipes. I consult her Baking book often, another in the stack of cookbooks that I have whole passages memorized from. Every recipe I've ever made from it has been a success: from the "adult" chocolate ganache cupcakes (gracing my CakeWalk banner above) to the Corniest Corn Muffins, each has been an instant favorite, and I'm hardly exaggerating. If you have been reading for awhile, you'll know that I don't actually own this favorite baking book of all time, instead I trek three quarters of a mile down the road and pick it up from the library every time I need it. The date due stamps are adding up over the years, and every time I check it out I wonder when I will finally break down and buy a copy of my very own.

For my Kiddo's birthday party on Saturday, I made a slew of chocolate cupcakes, and then a variation of her Perfect White Party Cake layered with Chocolate Malt Buttercream frosting for our family party later in the day. As if I would enter panic mode from not having enough chocolate to celebrate the momentous occasion of 5 years of my pride and joy, I decided to also "sourdoughize" a quick bread of Dorie's that I'd never actually tried in it's unaltered version: Coco-Nana bread.

It could be because my Parents came down to spend a couple of days (and we do love our quick breads with the morning coffee), or maybe it's because I was growing my starter bigger to be sure to have enough for plenty of pancake batter, but making this sourdough morning bread wasn't a mistake. I used a whole cup of starter and let it rise overnight until it was billowy and sweetly sour. I decided to scoop out 4 muffin-sized lumps from the rather full loaf pan after remembering my debacle with a recent cake and I'm fairly sure that proved to be a good decision. One muffin went (warm) directly into the Birthday Boy's mouth, where he promptly declared it delicious and I had no additional mess to attend to.

sourdough, overnighted.

If you plan the night before for this bread, it can be on the breakfast table in a little more than an hour. If you are in a rush, pop all of the batter into muffin papers, and they bake in roughly half the time. Either way the bread ages gracefully, gaining chocolaty depth and brownie points with children. You can easily pretend that you are having dessert for breakfast, which Dorie says is perfectly acceptable. She also says of her "coal dark morning loaf": "At first bite (it) is chocolate-chocolate, and then the banana flavor kicks in - it's altogether winning and, while it may feel decadent to have it at breakfast, it would be just as winning, if a little less racy, as a p.m. treat."

Agreed. And, seeing as my folks brought down my order of local strawberries, I'll add that sliced berries make a pretty great topping to a poundcake-sized portion as well.

Sourdough CocoNana Bread (adapted for sourdough from Dorie Greenspan - Baking From my Home to Yours)
  • 1 c. sourdough starter (100% hydration), fed somewhat recently
  • 1 3/4 c. AP flour
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk (I use my yogurt that is quite thin)
  • 1 c. cocoa powder (I used natural process)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 4 oz. (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large bananas, slightly mashed
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips, or 3 oz. chopped chocolate (bittersweet recommended)
Combine the starter, flour and buttermilk in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and let stand at room temperature until risen and puffy, or until you are ready to bake, but preferably at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 and set the oven rack in the center of the oven. Prepare a loaf pan by buttering it well. Have ready some muffin tins if you deem you have too much batter to contend with for a single loaf.

Sift together the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, or bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed for a minute or two until softened. Add the sugars and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. (The batter may look curdled at this time, and that's normal.)

Reduce mixer speed to low, and mix in the mashed bananas. Mix in the cocoa mixture until just combined, then add the sourdough starter mixture. Mix well by machine, and if the starter is too sticky and unruly, wet your clean hands and knead the whole lot together by hand to evenly distribute the sourdough. I try to do this quickly, gently yet firmly and I use my hands since it they seem to have one up on the KitchenAid. Stir in chocolate chips or chopped chocolate if using and mix to distribute evenly.

Spread the mixture into the loaf pan/muffin tins, and place the pan/tins on a baking sheet for some extra insulation. Bake loaf for about 60-70 minutes, and muffins for 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.

This is some seriously chocolaty bread. Near black, or "coal black" as Dorie aptly says, is the best description, and it tastes it as well. I may try to cut back on the sugar next time, but it's so good, I may totally decide not to bother. After all, I've already tricked myself into thinking it's better for me since I used sourdough...

No matter how I vary my method of mixing, whenever I make sourdough quick breads I always have telltale streaks of unruly batter. Honestly, I couldn't tell at all (taste or texture wise) in this bread. In some breads I've made, the streaks taste a little chewy - the first attempts were worse and were almost hard, little pebbles of sourdough nearly inedible.

I'm convinced that the more I work with sourdough in quick bread the better I become at incorporating it, and anyway this bread is so decadent that it draws attention away from what almost appears to be just nuts studded throughout. Maybe it's all the butter than softens it up, and maybe that's just another reason to love Dorie Greenspan and her marvelous recipes. My breakfasts are all the better for butter laden quick breads, my life enriched by Dorie and her attention to details.

This post has been Yeastspotted.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, it look just luscious! And I just finally gave up on my starter *sob*. I'll have to get another one going and try this out. ☺


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