It's a mad chocolate world out there right now. Heart-shaped boxes; kisses wrapped in pink tin-foil; delectable cupcakes overflowing with buttercream and boxed up with pretty bows. Valentines are running amok, finding sweets for their sweet ones. Such displays of confection (and affection) are so very welcome during these hard-fought days of Winter.
"There is nothing better than a friend, unless it's a friend with chocolate." Charles Dickens
On Valentine's Day Eve Weekend (okay, I just made that up but sounds good, hey?) I bring you chocolate, because I'm friendly like that. The hardcore chocolate goodness I'm saving for the V-Day post, so this is but a wee teaser...and it's a good one. I mean, it's chocolate and bread for sweet Valentine's sake. How can it not be knocking your socks off? Totally off topic: I had a Great Uncle Valentine, who loved to play guitar and host parties in his farmhouse. Neato, right?
So back to this bread business. I wish I was more in love with baking yeast breads, I really do. But somehow I just don't have the time or inclination to muster them up. I've seen no-knead recipes popping up allover the interwebs, and one day I promise to try it out. For reals, but in the meantime, I'm all about the
fun to shape...
and they still bake up all rustic and pretty. With a moist, tender crumb, veering towards scone-like territory, this bread doesn't even need butter. Yeah, I can't believe I just said that too. With the richness of dark chocolate chunks and punches of blood orange peel, this is a bread to fall in love with over and over again. (Kinda like how I fall in love with my boyfriend Dave Grohl every time I see this video.) With prep taking around 15 minutes and baking roughly 1 hour, you've got plenty of time to cuddle up with someone who makes your heart do jumping jacks.
Soda Bread with Dark Chocolate & Blood Orange Peel
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 ounces (180 grams) bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chunks
grated peel of 3 blood oranges (or good old regular oranges)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350*F. Position rack in the centre. Line a bake sheet with parchment. Whisk the first 6 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in chocolate and orange peel. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl; add to the dry ingredients, stirring just until incorporated.
Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead gently only until the dough comes together, about 5 turns. Form dough into a 6 1/2 inch round, about 2 1/2 inches high. Move it over to your prepared bake sheet, and with a sharp knife, cut 1 inch deep slits in top of bread, forming a sunburst pattern. Bake bread until golden and very firm when pressed and tester comes out clean, turning bread halfway though baking time, about 1 hour. Transfer bread to rack so it can cool, then slice some off for you and your loved ones. Make 1 large loaf. Recipe adapted from Epicurious.