Pane alla Cioccolata
or 1 small cake (18 grams) fresh yeast
makes 2 round or oval loaves
These are the directions for making this bread by hand, for directions on making the dough by mixer and by food processor consult "The Italian Baker" by Carol Field.
Stir the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar into 1/3 cup plus 1 table spon water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Mix the flour, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, the cocoa, and salt. Stir 11/4 cups water, the egg yolk, and butter into the dissolved yeast; then stir in the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time. Stir in the chocolate chips last. Knead on a lightly floured surface until velvety, elastic, and moist, 8 to 10 minutes.
first rise: Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
shaping and second rise: Punch the dough down and cut in half on a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into a round loaf and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
baking: Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and b bake 30 minutes longer. Cool completely on a rack.
Because the bread is dark and contains sugar, it is difficult to tell if it is burning. My suggestion is to retrieve the loaf at 20 minutes and thump the bottom. It it sounds hollow the bread is done. If not, put the loaf back in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes. Watch over this bread like a mother hen. And of course if you have a convection oven, the time would be reduced greatly.
Regarding the chocolate, use your favorite dark chocolate and break it up in the food processor or by some other means to get a variety of chunk sizes. This bread is best eaten within three days, after that it dries out quickly. Freeze the other loaf or treat your friends. If it dries a bit just put a slice in the microwave for about 9 seconds or just until the chocolate softens and slather with butter.
Related Tags: chocolate, bread, pane, baking, cioccolata, the italian baker