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Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread

If you think Sourdough bread should be made with just flour, Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread water, salt, and starter. ... just keep on looking. However, if you like an occasional walk on the wild side, maybe this bread will be up your alley.

This bread has a lot of dark, rich chocolate taste in it, its bitterness balanced by the dried cranberries. I made it for a church pot-luck and not much survived to be taken home. We topped it with a Cinnamon-Clove honey that I had reservations about before I tried it.

We had tried this bread with dried cherries, but we couldn't reliably find cherries as tart as we wanted. When we stumbled across dried cranberries at the grocery store, we tried 'em, and now we love 'em.

You can make this with just about any dried fruit. However, some dried fruits have enzymes on them that interfere with yeast. To avoid problems, poach the dried fruit as described below.

This recipe is modified from a recipe in "Flavored Breads Recipes from Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe," a cookbook we recommend often. Mark Miller called for added baker's yeast in this recipe. We omitted the yeast, and found the bread rose just fine. We did find the loaves stuck to our banneton, so next time we'll flour that a bit better. We also found that two loaves from this recipe are just too small.

This recipe is for one good sized loaf, or two puny ones.

2 cups dried sour cranberries (we used "Crasins")
1 cup water Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread, crumb detail
1 tbsp brandy (optional - we regularly omitted this at the bakery since we couldn't taste any difference when we used it or didn't)

1 1/2 cups active sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm cranberry water and water

3 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Place cranberries, water and (optional) brandy in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes. Drain the cranberries, reserving the liquid. The way we see it. the water has lots of good flavors in it, so why pour it down the drain? Put in the bread instead! Add enough water to the collected water from the dried fruit to bring the volume up to 1 1/2 cups.

Place the starter, water, and dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook. Knead it in the mixer for 10 to 12 minutes or until the dough is smooth, silky and elastic.

Add the drained cranberries to the dough, and continue kneading until the cranberries are evenly distributed. This may take some hand kneading to complete.

Put the dough into an oiled bowl,and turn the dough to cover it. Cover again with Saran Wrap Quick Covers, or clingwrap. Allow to rise in warm place until approximately doubled.

Punch down, turn out onto lightly floured work area. Sprinkle a baking sheet with some whole wheat flour, then gently pull and stretch the dough into a round loaf (or two small loaves).

Cover with clingwrap and allow to rise until approximately doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425F. This will take around an hour with the baking stones in place. Uncover, slash, and slide the bread into the oven. Pour a cup or so of hot water into the bottom of the oven and bake the bread 40 to 45 minutes. Cool on a rack and enjoy!

Cinnamon-Clove Honey:
A nice spread for Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread, and also really nice in tea if you're suffering a cold or flu.

Heat one cup of wildflower honey to a simmer. Add 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 1/2 tsp ground cloves.

Turn off heat, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Pour into a clean glass jar and refrigerate.

We added two pieces of cinnamon bark to give it a bit more "zip".