Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stout Chocolate-Cherry Bread

The name of this recipe delighted me - even knowing that 'stout' referred to an actual bottle of stout (beer), I couldn't help but picture a short and stout loaf of chocolate-cherry bread, which made me giggle. My amusement aside, when you buy a 12-ounce bottle of stout for the recipe, make sure it is vegan - the most common, Guinness, is not. I like the stout from Sierra Nevada, which does not use isinglass for filtration, according to the company.

Like the focaccia recipe I made a couple weeks back (Fontina and Red Pepper-Stuffed Garlic Focaccia), this bread recipe begins with a sponge - a yeast/liquid/flour mixture allowed to sit 8 hours to develop complex flavors. So 8 hours in advance, lightly spoon 2 cups bread flour into measuring cups, and level with a knife.

Combine the flour, 1 (12-ounce) bottle of stout and 1 package yeast (about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to overnight. You want to keep it in the fridge because otherwise the yeast will feed like crazy on the sugar in the beer, and grow out of control - yikes! I had a rather pleasant time rising to make this sponge at 7 am, then going back to bed, and feeling a little like an old-fashioned farmwife doing her baking - except it was Manhattan outside the window, not a farm. And, well, what farmwife goes back to bed until 10?

8 hours later, pull the mixture from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Add 2 more cups bread flour (spooned out and leveled with a knife), 1 tablespoon raw sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt to the yeast mixture, stirring until you have a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes (push the dough away with the heel of your palm, fold it in half, turn it a quarter turn, and repeat!). In the last minute or so of kneading, start adding 1/2 cup dried tart cherries and 4 ounces coarsely chopped dark chocolate. I found it easiest to add the cherries and chocolate in batches, kneading in each batch before adding the next.

For the chocolate, I prefer buying from the dark chocolate from the Endangered Species chocolate company, for rather obvious reasons).

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning the dough so the top is coated as well; cover and let rise for 1 hour, ideally some place about 85 degrees and free from drafts. It should be doubled in size by the end.

Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes, then shape into a 9-inch round, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly coat the dough with cooking spray, cover and let it rise another hour.

In a small bowl, whisk together the equivalent of 1 egg using egg replacer (such as Ener-G). Brush over the top of the dough (you can discard any extra liquid). The original recipe also suggested optionally sprinkling the top of the dough with pearl sugar, but since I wasn't sure if pearl sugar is vegan and it was optional anyway, I skipped it.

Make a 1/4-inch deep slit down the center of the loaf with a sharp knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes - the bread should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. You'll have 20 slices of 160 calories each. I found this bread delicious when toasted for breakfast! For an added indulgence, smear on a little of the vegan equivalent of Nutella, a chocolate-hazelnut spread from Chocoreale, available online at

Sierra Nevada stout $2.12
dried tart cherries $1.40
dark chocolate $7.98

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance