A Dark Chocolate & Prune Plaited Loaf

I haven’t been making my own bread for very long, That surprises me still today as I can’t imagine why it has taken me so long to get to grips with the art of baking bread. I have written a post on bread before, quite a while ago about the wonders of bread making (READ HERE) but if there is one skill I would always encourage and incorporate into my cookery lessons, this would be it.

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Chocolate & Prune Plaited Loaf

Last year, I attended a bread making course specifically aimed at teachers. It was run by The Real Bread Campaign and hosted by Katie Caldesi who runs Cucina Caldesi Cookery School along with her husband Giancarlo. The idea being to teach teachers how to bake bread so that we can all pass along the knowledge to our pupils. I became a member of the Real Bread Campaign run by Chris Young and have been making my own bread ever since.

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Learning to make focaccia, seeded bread rolls and the best, most authentic pizza. That knowledge to me has real value. These are the things we should be teaching our kids to make. Getting them engaged and enthusiastic about the foods they are already familiar with before moving onto to the foods that take a little bit more encouragement to eat….ie, anything of vegetable or fruit origin.

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From my limited experience as a cookery tutor, I can say that the most well received lessons have been the ones that include a bread recipe. I think the act of kneading has something to do with it. A natural stress reliever and good arm workout. Much cheaper than going to the gym. And the sense of achievement is huge.

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This is perhaps not a loaf to begin your bread baking with but it is one that is well worth attempting after you try out  THIS ONE  first. I know prunes aren’t the most popular of dried fruits but they happen to work harmoniously with the dark chocolate chips in this enriched bread dough to make a loaf that it is impossible to  eat just one slice of.

I am entering this loaf into a few challenges this month beginning with We Should Cocoa, guest hosted this month by Nazima (my One Ingredient partner) over at Franglais Kitchen. We Should Cocoa is run by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and Chele at The Chocolate Teapot. The theme this month is to pair chocolate with bread.

 

Secondly, I am entering into Fresh From The Oven guest hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours. This challenge is shared by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy and Claire at Purely Food. The challenge this month is to make a plaited loaf.

This loaf also fits in perfectly with November’s Breakfast Club challenge guest hosted by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog. The theme this month is chocolate. This challenge is run by Helen over at Fuss Free Flavours.

 

Finally, I am entering into Calendar Cakes jointly hosted by Laura at Laura Loves Cakes and  Rachel at Dolly Bakes. Luckily the theme for their challenge happens to be making a bread, rolls or buns.

 

 

 

A Dark Chocolate & Prune Plaited Loaf

 

 

Ingredients :- Makes 1 very large loaf adapted from “Bread” by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno

 

  • 500g strong white flour

  • 1 sachet instant yeast

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 320-3350ml tepid water

  • 1 egg beaten

  • 30g unsalted softened butter 

  • 200g chopped dark chocolate

  • 150g chopped pitted prunes

  • Egg wash for glazing (optional)

Method :-

  1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt & water in the basin of your food processor and knead with a dough hoook for 10 minutes. If doing this by hand combine the ingredients in a large bowl and knead by hand for 10 minutes.

  2. Leave the dough in the bowl of your food processor or in the bowl you used for mixing the ingredients for about an hour covered with a tea towel.

  3. After an hour, knock back the dough and let it rest for a further 10 minutes.

  4. Place the dough back into a bowl and add in the chopped chocolate, prunes, beaten egg and softened butter. Combine these ingredients into the dough. It will be sticky but keep kneading until all the ingredients are combined.

  5. Flour your work surface and divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into a long strip of dough dusting with a little flour when you need to.

  6. Once you have 3 strips of dough begin to plait them together and then tuck in both ends to make  neat ends to the loaf. Make the plait  on the lined baking tray on which you will be baking the loaf so you won’t have to move it once it has proved.

  7. Leave the dough to rest on the lined baking tray for 30 minutes and pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.

  8. After 30 minutes glaze the loaf with egg wash and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes.

  9. Eat either hot from the oven or cooled down with plenty of butter. It lasts for 2 days but you could chop the loaf in half and freeze one half as it makes a substantial loaf of bread of generous proportions.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more about the joy and benefits of homemade bread Laura! And what a really lovely recipe to share 

  2. Prunes and chocolate are a delicious combination Laura and your bread sounds wonderful. It looks really good too. I’m a great believer in real bread and have been a member of the campaign for about three years now. Thanks for entering your lovely plait into We Should Cocoa :)

  3. You’re absolutely right, kneading bread is a great way to destress – I use it a lot! I’ve never tried adding chocolate to bread dough, but this recipe sounds really good.

    • The chocolate is fantastic here. I was dubious as the dough was quite sticky but I just held my nerve and added flour when rolling the strips which seemed to sort it out nicely!

  4. Making my own bread is satisfying, and I just love your recipe, it sounds scrumptious.  And we’ll done for getting it into so many events:-) 
    I’ll be baking this soon Laura, thanks for sharing such inspiring ideas.

  5. What a great loaf…and what interesting ingredients…I’ve never seen a chocolate and prune loaf before but I’d love to try some!! You’re very brave plaiting too! I need to try a few more loaves…I haven’t really made much bread but I’ve got something lined up for this month! Thanks for entering Calendar Cakes :-)

  6. I *love* prunes and chocolate together! This bread sounds gorgeous. I bet it would make a dang good bread pudding, or a great addition to a holiday breakfast table. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. A beautiful loaf! I love the dark chocolate/prunes combination and the idea of those two ingredients in freshly baked bread is just mouthwatering! I’ve started to make my own bread but so far have just stuck to a very simple olive oil bread – perhaps it’s time for me to venture into the enriched dough territory! Lovely recipe Laura.

    • Thanks Katharine, I think you would love it and it is no harder than making a normal loaf, just stickier which you can solve by using flour when kneading at the end!

  8. I started baking my own bread when I lived in Copenhagen. Denmark bakeries produce amazing breads and pastries and I was really inspired to start baking bread at home. I have a mix of results, my focaccia is quite good, my other breads could be improved… making a good rye bread with a starter: impossible! I love the bread/chocolate/sticky prunes combination. In Italy we like to start the day with a sweet treat and this would be perfect!

    • If I had the choice I would start the day with a sweet treat but tend to save them for the weekend. I keep meaning to make a starter mix for sourdough but have yet to manage it. If I do, I will let you know how I get on!

  9. I love making my own bread – it’s just so versatile – you can use the ingredients you want and incorporate all of your favourite flavours in large quantities (olives, or sundried tomatoes) or use different flours. I just love it! And eating it is pretty fun too…. I love your idea of combining prunes and chocolate – I remember Delia Smith saying that they’re a great pairing too.

  10. wow this looks fantastic and sounds very yummy! B 

  11. Looks delicious! I will have to try this recipe. Great to meet you today at the BritMums meet up.
    Lydia

  12. I think beyond the obvious gastronomic joys form making (and eating) your own bread, it’s that sense of accomplishment that you’ve made an important staple, out of thigns that are so plain and everyday. I need to get into breadmaking more…. I used to play with my sourdough starter a lot more, but have since neglected it :( maybe a quicker yeast bread recipe is the way to ease myself back into it. mind you, not that that plaited loaf looks anything simple…

    • Ahhh, thanks Shu Han. I suppose this isn’t a beginner’s bread but I must say I am just as happy baking a plain loaf as I am a fancy one. It all tastes far better than anything you can buy and the cost is minimal too. Hope you get back into your bread baking. I am not able to make it more than once a week but it’s still always a satisfying activity!

  13. How strange, I have just finished teaching a bread workshop this afternoon, I taught basic white, fougasse and small dinner rolls to them and we all loved it and it was a huge success! Your plaited loaf looks absolutely fabulous, and I love the ingredients and the combination of flavours. I met Chris recently, at Abergavenny and he is so inspirational…..great multiple entry for so many challenges too Laura! Karen 

    • Oh I wish I could have been there Karen. I am hoping to teach some bread making skills at a cookery school near me in the New Year. I bet it all got eaten in a flash! Chris seems like a brilliant guy and love what he is doing for Real Bread xxx

  14. Prunes and chocolate is a fab combination but is so overlooked. This looks delicious Laura! Like you, I haven’t been making my own bread for long either but I now have no idea what worried me so about it. I still don’t make it on a regular basis but once a week or so, it’s incredibly satisfying. 

    • I agree prunes & chocolate are such a great pairing but not often used. Although maybe prunes are just one of those ingredients that people forget about. Over in France that is definitely not the case and I had one of the best cakes in Perigueux which was a prune and apple galette. They are proud of the Agen prunes over there!

  15. Your loaf looks beautiful Laura. I don’t make a lot of sweet breads but looking at this I really think I should! Love the addition of prunes too.

  16. Oh just how lovely does this look? And what a gorgeous combination of prunes and chocolate AND in bread! I haven’t made much bread for years (well apart from pizza dough), at least not since having children just over 4 years ago.You’ve really inspired me to get back into it. Was thinking of starting with an easy focaccia this week actually.

  17. Most impressive! I rarely bake bread and have certainly never attempted a plaited loaf, well done. Great recipe! 

  18. Hi Laura this looks absolutely delicious and I am also starting to experiment with adding things into bread and making sweet loaves. I have not done a proper plaited loaf so will try one out!

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