Is food sensual or simply sustenance?
In the case of fresh baked bread, sustenance imagery goes back to biblical times. But, the connection between bread and sensuality is unmistakable – the tactile experience of kneading the smooth elastic dough, and the intoxicating, uplifting aroma of warm yeast. The bread comes alive and its living essence dances in the air.
But, suppose commonplace bread were merged with something a little dark and alluring? The seeds of temptation were sown recently when my friend Laura Luciano wrote in her wonderful blog out east foodie about the chocolate bread sold at the Blue Duck Bakery Café in Riverhead, Long Island.
I’d never heard of chocolate bread. I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind – a delicious touch of decadence folded into our daily bread. It quickly became an obsession. With nary enough time for a field trip to Riverhead, I opt for the do-it-yourself approach and troll the Internet for ideas. I land on this recipe. It’s not exactly in the artisan style of the Blue Duck, but it’s a good starter recipe that will allow me to learn the method and see how the ingredients and flavors mesh together.
The recipe is much like a traditional yeast bread loaf, with the addition of cocoa powder and semi-sweet baking chips that are melted in a saucepan with milk and butter.
The initial, shaggy dough is streaky with flecks of cocoa.
A few minutes of focused kneading results in a ball of dough that is rich chocolate brown.
After two rises, the dough is split between two loaf pans and baked for about thirty minutes.
The house is filled with the aroma of warm brownies laced with yeast.
Unlike an intensely sweet chocolate dessert, the flavors are far subtler. I can taste the essence of chocolate, without the dizzying sugar high. The bread is really quite beautiful in its dark simplicity.
So when to eat this alluring bread? Breakfast? Lunch? Afternoon tea? I yield to temptation, drizzle a slice with some local honey and don’t even wait for an official meal.
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