You don’t need to be a zombie to eat this brain…

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Well, it’s not actually a brain, but it sort of looks like one, doesn’t it?

A few weeks ago, I was browsing one of my favourite food blogs slash instagrams and came upon their description of this odd bread addition they call ‘Dutch Crunch’. Essentially, it’s a yeast/rice flour mixture which adds some texture and visual pop to bread. I’ve never seen anything like it here in Winnipeg, and certainly never tried it, but I kept coming back to the site to look at those mouthwatering pictures.

(Seriously, check out the pictures on their site, it’s amazing).

At the end of the post, Food52 dared readers to do a matcha/chocolate dutch crunch combo. Seeing as I love matcha, and I love chocolate, and I had been looking for a bread that we could both eat, and talk about, at Thanksgiving, I figured I’d give it a try.

The result?

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Savory dark chocolate sourdough with matcha dutch crunch

Okay, so it looked a bit weird.

But damn did it taste amazing!

As you can see, the matcha dutch crunch (“MDC”), which started out looking like a matcha milkshake – vibrant, grassy green, darkened in the oven, even after being covered in tinfoil. On my next try, I’ll probably actually put the MDC on about halfway through the bake – enough time for it to cook and crack, but not enough time for it to turn brown.

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A plain version of the bread, sans dutch crunch, shaped into a dinner roll.

The bread itself has a fairly tight crumb for a sourdough, largely as a result of it being drier than most because of the add cocoa powder. Raw cacao nibs (why are the nibs spelled with an “a” and the powder with an “o”? Weird) were added during the stretch and folds to give the bread some internal crunch as well as a bit more of a traditionally chocolatey hit.

I made this specifically as a savory bread, and it came out just like I wanted – the unmistakeable flavour of the darkest chocolate rules this bread. But if you wanted a sweeter version, subbing the nibs with semisweet chocolate chips, and adding some sugar to the dough, would be totally acceptable.

Making this bread was a great chance to try something different with ingredients I already had on hand, and got lots of fascinated looks and comments at thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy!

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Time Required: Day 1 (Preparing Levain) – 10 minutes active, Overnight Resting | Day 2 (Baking) Approx 1 hour active, 4 hours resting.
Serves: 2 Large Boules, approx. 12 dinner rolls.

Sweet Variation: If you want to make this a sweet bread, consider tripling the honey (and holding back a bit of the flour) or adding about 1/3 cup of white sugar. Brown sugar would be good here too, but it would mess with the chemistry a bit and so try at your own risk. You could also sub semisweet chocolate chips for the cacao nibs.

This formula assumes that you have a whole-wheat based sourdough starter maintained at 75% hydration. If you don’t, stay tuned for future posts on subbing for commercial yeast, and starting your own starter.

If you haven’t fed your starter in the week before baking, at least one day before you begin the recipe, feed your starter. When the starter has matured and has reached just past its high-rise point, you’re ready to mix.

Ingredients

Levain Bread Dutch Crunch
71g mature starter 449g Levain 1 tbsp yeast (instant or regular is fine)
142g unbleached bread flour 312g-340g warm water (95F) 1/2 Cup warm water
85g whole wheat flour 454g unbleached bread flour 1tbsp sugar
152g water (room temperature) 17g sea salt (fine) 1tbsp vegetable oil
60g cocoa powder 1/4 tsp kosher salt
50g honey 3/4 cup white rice flour
50g cocoa nibs 1-2tsp smoothie grade matcha

The Levain

  1. Combine all of the Levain ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix (either by hand with a large spoon or, much easier, with the paddle attachment on a stand mixer) for about 30 seconds to a minute until the dough comes together and feels tacky.
  2. Knead for a minute or so until the levain is well combined and holds together when stretched.
  3. Form into a ball and put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and leave at room temperature for 6-8 hours until the levain has increased in size considerably. If you’re mixing the dough the same day, let the levain come to double its original size. If not, refrigerate before it gets there. The levain will stay healthy in the fridge for about 3 days.

 The Dough

  1. Put the warm water into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer (if using), then add the starter. Break up starter with hands or the paddle attachment on the lowest speed.
  2. Add the honey to water mixture and combine.
  3. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt. Mix with a large spoon or the dough hook (on lowest speed) on your stand mixer to form a coarse and sticky dough.
  4. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes to hydrate.
  5. Continue mixing on medium-low with the dough hook (or turn the dough out onto a (very lightly floured) surface and knead by hand) for 3 minutes to get a soft and tacky ball of dough. Hydration is pretty important on this one, so if it’s not tacky, add some water and knead some more. If it’s too sticky, add some more flour and knead some more. If you’re kneading by hand, it’ll take a bit longer, but you’ll get there. Quantities will vary depending on your season and location, so rely on your senses, not the recipe.
  6. Let the dough sit uncovered on the counter for ten minutes, then flatten with your hands, spread about 1/3 of the cacao nibs on to the exposed surface of the dough and do a stretch and fold. (Grasp the dough from each of its four sides, pull out, and fold over, creating tension with each fold.) Gather the dough into a ball.
  7. Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Do three more stretch-and-folds, each separated by 10 minutes (so four in total). When you stretch the dough out for each stretch-and-fold, add more of the cacao nibs. Don’t worry if they fall out during the stretching, just roll them back in.
  9. Form the dough into a ball, place into a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover.
  10. Let the dough sit at room temperature for 2 hours before refrigerating.

Baking Day

  1. Remove dough from the fridge 4 hours before baking. After 2 hours, shape it into two boules, or many dinner rolls (I like buns/rolls to be about 80-100g each).
  2. 45 Minutes before baking, preheat oven to 500F and put a steam tray (any small pan you don’t care about) in the oven.
  3. After turning on the oven, prepare Matcha Crunch by mixing all of the ingredients together.
  4. Immediately before baking, paint the Matcha Crunch onto the boules. Paint it on thinner than you think it should be – it’ll puff up in the oven.
  5. Pour 1 cup of water into steam tray, add bread to oven on baking stones preferably.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate bread and make sure they’re baking evenly. Bake for another 15-20 minutes. Check regularly for colour. As soon as the Match Crunch has set, loosely cover the top of the breads with foil.

When done, bread will be 200F in the center.

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