Makes 1 large loaf
Active time: 20 minutes
Bulk fermentation: 1½ hours
Proofing: 1 hour
Cooking: 40 minutes
Bread peel (paddle for lifting bread)
½ cup (3.5 oz./100 g) hazelnuts
1¼ cups (10.5 oz./300 g) whole milk
0.35 oz. (10 g) fresh yeast
3.5 oz. (100 g) refreshed levain
Generous 2 tbsp (1 oz./30 g) muscovado or turbinado sugar
4 cups + 2 tbsp (1 lb. 2 oz./500 g) bread or white whole wheat flour (T65–T80)
1¾ tsp (0.3 oz./9 g) salt
Scant ½ cup (2.5 oz./75 g) hazelnut butter, preferably organic
½ bar (1.75 oz./50 g) dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Toast the hazelnuts in an ungreased skillet for 4–5 minutes over medium heat, swirling the skillet often to prevent burning. Let cool, then chop roughly.
Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Crumble in the fresh yeast and stir or swish to dissolve. Add the levain, sugar, flour, and salt. Knead for 5 minutes on speed 1.
Add the hazelnut butter and knead for 5–8 minutes on speed 2. At the end of the kneading time, add the hazelnuts and chocolate and knead briefly until evenly distributed.
Shape the dough into a ball, place in a lightly oiled or flour-dusted bowl, and cover. Let rise for 1½ hours in a place that is warm, but not warm enough to melt the chocolate (bulk fermentation*).
When the dough has risen significantly, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a ball without deflating it and place it seam-side down in a floured banneton or a large bowl lined with a well-floured towel. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour (proofing*).
Toward the end of the rising time, place a rack at the lowest oven position and place another rack directly above it. Place an empty heavy-duty baking sheet, oven-safe skillet, or drip pan on the lower rack, and a baking stone or heavy-duty baking sheet on the upper rack, and preheat the oven to 480°F (250°C/Gas Mark 9). Bring 1 cup (250 ml) of water to a simmer.
When the dough passes the poke test* (see below), quickly invert the loaf over the floured peel and score the dough before sliding it onto the baking stone or sheet in the oven.
Carefully pour the simmering water into the baking sheet, skillet, or drip pan to create steam and quickly close the oven door.
Bake for 20 minutes at 480°F (250°C/Gas Mark 9), then reduce the heat to 430°F (220°C/Gas Mark 7) and continue to bake for another 20 minutes, until deeply golden.
Remove the bread from the oven and place it on a rack to cool.
La bonne idée
You can also bake this bread in a Dutch oven
If the proofing time is too short, the dough won’t build up enough CO2 to rise correctly during baking. Conversely, if the proofing time is too long, the gluten network weakens and the bread may fall during baking. Even professional bakers use the poke test to evaluate the dough’s resistance and determine when it is ready for the oven. Gently press your finger about ½ in. (1 cm) into the dough. If the dough is ready to bake, it will spring back slowly but retain a small indentation where you poked it. If no indentation forms, the dough is not ready; leave it to proof a little longer. If the indentation doesn’t spring back at all, it’s too late—the dough is over-proofed.
Extract from Upper Crust: Homemade Bread the French Way, by renowned food writer Marie-Laure Fréchet. Published by Flammarion and available at Amazon, online and highstreet bookstores (where it can be ordered if it’s not in stock ISBN 9782081517073). Step by step techniques to turn you into a successful bread maker, 100 recipes include delicious desserts and savoury specialities which feature bread. Plus French bread history and fascinating facts…
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