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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
After an hour, knock back the dough and let it rest for a further 10 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
Leave the dough to rest on the lined baking tray for 30 minutes and pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
After 30 minutes glaze the loaf with egg wash and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes.
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.