Jim Lahey’s Chocolate Bread

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This is a no-recipe kind of post, really, another no-knead bread! This time right in the spirit of the festive season with chocolate, cranberry, cherry and walnuts. This is my version of Jim Lahey’s Chocolate Coconut bread. We aren’t big coconut fans here, so I skipped it and threw in some fruit and nut, which we are huge fans of!
Throw in everything, proof and bake- ta daa!! Slice and chomp away 😀
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280 grams (2 cups+ 2Tbsp) Maida/APF
150 grams (1 cup) chocolate, chopped into chunks [Use milk or dark. I used half dark and half milk]
60 grams of cranberries and cherries (optional)
A handful of coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp instant yeast
270 grams (1cup+3 Tbsp) water, at room temperature

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients listed with a wooden spoon or your hand, and leave covered till it is more than doubled up and had bubbles over the surface. It may take anything from 5-24 hours depending on the temperature and humidity.

Gently drop the dough on a flour dusted surface. Be careful not to tear the dough. With lightly floured hands and a plastic scraper, shape the dough into a round ball or two loaves.  Lahey bakes it in a Dutch oven (DO) but I have tried baking both in a DO as well as a loaf tin, and it comes out perfect in either.

To bake in a loaf tin:
Transfer  the shaped loaves into two greased  9×5 greased loaf tins. Cover and leave to rise till doubled. To check if the bread is proofed, gently stick a floured finger in the loaf. If the impression stays, the dough is done, else let it rise for another 15-20 minutes.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 35-40 minutes. The bottom when tapped should sound hollow.
To bake in a Dutch Oven:
Take a large  cotton or muslin napkin and  generously dust it with flour. Gently place the dough on the napkin with the seam side down. Cover and leave to rise till doubled. To check if the bread is proofed, gently stick a floured finger in the loaf. If the impression stays, the dough is done, else let it rise for another 15-20 minutes.
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Half an hour before the end of the second rise, place the DO in the oven on the middle rack preheat the oven to 250C for 30 minutes. Remove the DO from the oven and gently invert the dough into the pot. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and lower the temperature to 230C. Bake for another 15-20 minutes.
Cool and slice.

Every time I have baked and served this bread, it has got immense love! Go try it 😀
Have a lovely December!



Fruit Biscuits- Hyderabad Karachi Bakery Style

A few years back, my husband returning from a business trip brought back a box of these cookies which he said were the famous Karachi biscuits from Hyderabad.
Fruit biscuits, the box read. Having never had tutti frutti studded biscuits before, I bit into one gingerly and mmmm…it was lovely! Soft and crumbly with candied fruit.

I was very keen to recreate the texture and flavour of these famed biscuits. I tried, I failed, I tried again. I asked friends, I looked at various recipes and kept baking small batches. And finally when I baked the most recent batch, I smelt success!
No leaving agent is to be used- that’s the key! No baking powder, no baking soda.
The buttery crumbly softness and the mild crunch of the candied fruit- yeah…I am almost there 🙂
Here is how I made them
(This recipe gives 25 medium sized cookies)

150 grams (1 cup and 1 Tbsp) All purpose flour/Maida

110 grams butter (1/2 cup), softened but not melted

100 grams ( 1/2 cup ) Sugar. Weigh the sugar and then powder it in the mixer. I added only 1/3 cup as we like our cookies mildly sweet and the tutti frutti also adds to the sweetness)
½ cup candied fruit/tutti frutti/dry fruit ( You may use chopped dry nuts like almonds and cashews in place of tutti frutti or just raisins)
½  tsp cardamom/ilaichi powder

½ tsp rose extract ( May use almond/vanilla extract if rose not available. Rose water won’t give the required flavour)

Sift the flour. Leave the butter out on the counter till it is soft. Do not melt it. We need the butter soft, but not melted. Be very careful if softening in the microwave.
Beat the butter and powdered sugar till light and creamy.
1Add the cardamom powder, rose extract and candied fruit and mix well.
2Slowly add the flour in three lots mixing with your fingers. Incorporate the butter into the flour. The mixture begins to look like bread crumbs.
Gently bring the dough together. Do not knead!
Shape the dough into a log and cling film it. I put the cookie dough roll in a long cardboard box and tied it up to ensure it keeps the square shape.

46Refrigerate the dough for an hour.
Preheat the oven at 180C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (Check the end of the post for detailed baking instructions and the microwave baking option)
Remove the log from the refrigerator and cut slices about half an inch thick.
8Lay the cookies on the sheet at least 2 inches apart as they expand when they bake.
9Bake for 13-15 minutes. When the bottom of the cookies begins to brown, they are done. They will be soft in the middle, but will firm up on cooling.
10Cool in the baking tray for five minutes and then transfer to the then wire rack to cool completely. 11The cookies stay good for two weeks when stored in an air tight container.
Enjoy with a glass of milk or hot chai or coffee.
IMG_8151IMG_8154 The first recipe I tried was from here. Working on the basic idea, I made several changes to get mine.
Oven and baking specifications
I have a 45 Litre Oven (with a fan) and baked these at 180C . I placed the baking tray on the middle shelf, with both the upper and lower elements on. However, each oven behaves differently, so please adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly. Basically, as soon as the bottoms of the biscuits begin to change colour, the baking tray needs to be pulled out. It may take longer than the 14 odd minutes it took me. So watch those bottoms! And do not Over Bake!! That will totally kill the biscuits. Slightly browned bottom and a soft top, that’s what we are looking for 😀

Want to bake them in the microwave? Here is some wonderful explanation on how to go about it at ‘Cakes and More’.

I am taking these soft crumbly delights to Fiesta Friday 70!  Thanks Dini and Mollie for hosting the party this time 😀