Chocolate Bread

chocolate dough

When I got the opportunity to re-release my first two books, which had gone out of print, my publisher and I decided that they should be combined into one brand-new volume, Ready for Dessert, with new photos and more than a dozen new recipes added. So I made a master list of all the recipes, then chose my absolute favorites: the ones I’d found myself making over and over again during the years invariably rose to the top.

oeufs frais eggs

I had to choose le top du top, as they say in France. Then I sent the list to my editor, who worked for many years at a food magazine known for their exactitude and trying a recipe over and over and over again with every variation (a bit crazy, like me), and we went back and forth for a while, until we agreed on the ones for the final book.

chocolate batter chocolate bread batter with nuts

I originally imagined I would sit down and cut and paste recipes, putting them in order, and maybe adding a few notes here and there. But as I scrolled through the recipes, many of which I hadn’t made in over a decade, I started reading through them more carefully. And soon I realized that I was not just making mental notes, but I was jumping up from my desk chair and heading to the kitchen, taking butter out of the refrigerator to soften, and running to the market to buy eggs by the flat.

Then, of course, there were those inevitable slips of paper that I make notes on, that became scattered around my apartment, finding their way into various files or transcribed hastily onto my computer with doughy fingers. (I am still scraping chocolate off my keyboard, by the way.)

As I mentioned in the introduction to the book, recipes aren’t set in stone—which is a good thing, because otherwise using cookbooks would be a herculean task, sometimes when you look at something with a fresh perspective, you have those “Eureka!” moments.

first yeast yeast-risen

This Chocolate Bread was in my second book, Ripe for Dessert, and when I was picking and choosing which recipes would make the cut, I had an overload of chocolate cakes and other treats in the book, including cream-filled Chocolate Cupcakes dipped in chocolate ganache. So this one didn’t make it.

shaping chocolate bread

Another reason was that I didn’t want people to make this and expect it to be like a decadent chocolate torte or rich chocolate pound cake. It’s bread, and the resulting loaf will be firmer and less-buttery than a traditional cake. What you should expect, though, is the most amazing chocolate aroma wafting from your oven during the excruciating time it takes to bake and cool down. And it does make a wonderful afternoon snack, with a strong cup of coffee.

shaping bread1

So I thought it’d be fun to give it a makeover here on the site. When giving it another look, I tried it a few times. Okay, who am I kidding. I re-did it about eight or nine times, exhausting every possibility I could think of.

cocoa and flour chopped chocolate

What did I try? Well, since you asked…

1. Egg Yolks vs Whole Eggs: Yolks are almost pure fat, so they make things moister. And I thought maybe an extra yolk would make a substantial difference.

Verdict? Not enough difference to merit have 2 egg whites leftover.

2. All-Purpose flour vs Bread Flour: Because bread flour isn’t something everyone has on hand, I wanted to see if it was vital for the bread.

Verdict? I hate to make you go to the store, but bread flour has more gluten and you’ll get a better rise if you use it.

3. Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder vs Natural Cocoa Powder: I dipped into my stash of American cocoa powder, trying it with both Hershey’s and an artisan brand. Then I tried it using Dutch-process cocoa and the different in flavor was pretty profound.

Verdict? Dutch-process. (The bread made with natural cocoa didn’t rise as well, which makes me think the acid in the cocoa somehow interfered with the yeast action.)

4. Nuts vs No Nuts: Originally I made the recipe with nuts because, well, I like nuts and chocolate together. But I was on the fence about them in the end. So while they were nice and crunchy in there, you don’t have to use them.

Verdict? You choose.

5. Instant vs Active Dry Yeast: Instant yeast isn’t widely available in France yet, so I didn’t try it. Fresh yeast, however, is. (You can ask your local boulanger for some.) Call me a stickler, but I used active dry yeast.

Verdict? If you want to swap one out for another, check the links at the end of the recipe for substitutions.

6. Butter vs Oil: Because butter is part water, about 20%, I thought using a neutral-tasting vegetable oil might make the chocolate bread moister. And thought that maybe the flavor of the butter might not be that important with all that chocolate anyways. But the loaf came out with an odd, slightly greasy taste, and I went back to butter.

Verdict? Oil works, but doesn’t taste very good so I’m sticking with butter. Perhaps a nut oil might be something to try, but am guessing the flavor might be rather strong for most tastes.

7. Milk vs Water: Originally I used water, but decided to give milk a try, since bread doughs made with milk have a softer crust and are a bit more tender.

Verdict? Whole milk works best, but low-fat milk or water is okay, too.

8. Chocolate Chips vs Chopped Chocolate: Chocolate chips are designed not to melt, and while that’s sometimes an advantage, I don’t mind softer bits of chocolate embedded in the bread. So I chopped mine up myself. And besides, I only have one bag of chocolate chips left that I brought back from the states, and I didn’t want to use them up quite yet.

Verdict? I prefer chocolate chunks, but chocolate chips are fine to use.

shaping loaf

I also made the dough a bit softer, and even considered trying a no-knead variation, although I decided that I actually like kneading bread. And also my friends (and neighbors…and vendors at the market…and delivery men…) were beginning to request something other than loaves of chocolate bread with a few slices taken out. So I decided it was time to stop.

chocolate bread

You also might try slicing up a loaf and using it in your favorite bread pudding recipe (or the Orange-Almond Bread Pudding in Ready for Dessert). Or using it for a batch of French toast, if you’re one of those people that needs to get your chocolate fix first thing in the morning—as I must confess, I often do.

Chocolate Bread

One 9-inch (23 cm) loaf

After much experimenting, I opted for a dough that much softer than the one I’m kneading up in the photos. And I eventually I settled on one that was soft enough to be scraped into the baking pan, just as is.

Use very good cocoa powder; here I used Valrhona, since I think the darker color and strong taste are important in the loaf. But another brand of Dutch-process cocoa should work fine, too.

If you don’t have the coffee powder, you can leave it out. I like it since it add a subtle boost to the chocolate flavor. This recipe works best with bread flour, but if you can’t get it, all-purpose flour works well, too. I’ve made a few notes at the end of the recipe about yeast and flour substitutions.

  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) whole or low-fat milk, heated until just tepid
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (1/4 ounce, or 2 1/4 teaspoons)—see Note
  • 6 tablespoons (75 g) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (55 g) butter, salted or unsalted
  • 3 ounces (85 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups (280 g) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces, 90 g) chocolate chips or coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Add one tablespoon (11 g) sugar, then set aside in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbles form on the surface.

2. While the yeast is activating, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and 3 ounces (85 g) chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.

3. Once the yeast mixture is frothy, mix in the remaining sugar, the instant coffee (if using), the egg, vanilla, and sea salt.

4. Stir in half the flour and cocoa powder, then the melted butter and chocolate, then the remaining flour mixture, stirring until well-incorporated. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and beat for five minutes, until smooth. If making by hand, mix vigorously with a flexible spatula for the same amount of time. The dough will seem quite moist, resembling sticky brownie batter when ready.

5. Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

6. Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) loaf pan.

7. Stir in the chopped chocolate and nuts, if using. Then use a spatula to fold the dough over on itself in the bowl for about thirty seconds, then transfer it to the buttered pan, pressing a bit to spread it to the corners. Let rise in a warm place for one hour.

8. Ten minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC.)

9. Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, until it feels done and sounds hollow when you tap it. You can stick an instant-read thermometer in the bottom if you’re unsure; the bread is done when the temperature reads 180ºF (82Cº).

Notes: The equivalent amount of fresh yeast to one packet of dry yeast is .6 ounces. I’ve not used instant or quick-rising yeast (also called rapid-rise, or levure boulangère instantanée in France), but if you do try it, please let me know how it works out. According to various websites from yeast supplers (see below), you can use it in place of regular yeast. If you have questions about yeast, active dry or instant, I’ve included a few links below to the websites of various yeast companies, which you should find helpful.

In France, there really isn’t any equivalent of bread flour. Due the to proliferation of bread machines, one can find farine pour pain or farine boulangère, but it usually has leavener already added. There’s a ‘hack’ for making bread flour, in the links below.

chocolate bread dough

Related Links and Posts

It’s Ready!

Yeast FAQs (Red Star Yeast)

Bread World (Fleischmann’s Yeast)

Ingredients for American Baking in Paris

Chocolate FAQs

Cocoa Powder FAQs

How to Make Bread Flour (eHow)

King Arthur Bread Flour (King Arthur Baker’s Catalog)

James Beard’s Amazing Persimmon Bread

Banana Bread

The Grainy Breads of Paris

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121 comments

  • April 28, 2010 3:18am

    Do I even have to bake the bread? Can’t I just eat the dough? It looks amazing, especially the picture with the nuts in it.

  • April 28, 2010 3:26am

    Such a gorgeous and mouthwatering blog; thank you for sharing!

  • Sigrid
    April 28, 2010 3:36am

    What I keep wondering every time you mention “tried the recipe for eight to ten times before I was sure”: WHO EATS all your tryouts? This keeps me from continuing my search for the perfect white nougat recipe unless we have guests or are invited and don’t have to eat everything ourselves.

    Or do you – what a thought! – just reduce the amounts when you test different variations?

  • ChefDylan
    April 28, 2010 3:42am

    I’ve done a lot of bread making over the last few months but never tried a chocolate bread.

    I have a batch of sourdough ready to go in the oven in 8hrs… do you think a choc sour dough would be viable… its gotta be worth a shot surely??!!!!??!

    Dylan

  • April 28, 2010 3:52am

    Looks so delicious – chocolate & bread both are my fave food and i eat them everyday! A combo of both would be lethal! I could even eat the dough – if not for the yeast..lol!! Definitely bookmarking this… :D

  • April 28, 2010 4:04am

    You talk about sending people out to buy ingredients like bread flour and yeast, yet the only thing on there that isn’t in my cupboard is instant coffee!

    I’ve eaten a shop-bought version of something similar. Perfect for breakfast, chocolate-y, but bread like enough to make you feel that you’re not starting the day with dessert. Definitely a recipe to try this weekend.

  • April 28, 2010 4:37am

    I LOVE this insight into recipe construction! Thank you – and now I know why you’re the amazing professional and I tend to buy bread from a bakery :P

  • April 28, 2010 5:04am

    Yay for chocolate bread. I have never had a yeast based bread with chocolate in it.

  • April 28, 2010 5:25am

    Seriously – yum! I’ve never tried chocolate bread but sounds like a perfect afternoon treat. It’s getting colder here so this will be so nice to enjoy warm.

  • April 28, 2010 5:44am

    oh wow chocolate french toast??? sounds so heavenly!
    I tried making breads before and had excellent results but haven’t tried making a chocolate bread though.

  • April 28, 2010 6:12am

    as much as I like the pictures and all the ingredients used, I do not think it would be something I would really like… as you said, it is not a cake and I think I would be disappointed, this time I will pass

  • April 28, 2010 6:18am

    That bread is mouthwatering! Beautiful.

  • April 28, 2010 6:23am

    Wow, you’ve got me drooling. Definatly giving this one a try. Thanks.

  • Elemjay
    April 28, 2010 6:32am

    David – can you check the final sentence – “the bread is done when the temperature reads 180ºF (355ºC).” I think it might be supposed to read 180C and 355F…

  • April 28, 2010 6:38am

    Let me start with Oh My Gawd!…..and then say, I’d definitely prefer nuts! It looks better than chocolate cake to me.

  • April 28, 2010 7:01am

    David, can’t you get SAF instant yeast? It’s a French product. Surely G. Detou has it.

    Today I’m making pain meunier, but this chocolate bread is next! Thanks for the recipe, it looks wonderful!

  • April 28, 2010 7:06am

    I love all kinds of bread and I love chocolate, then the combination is perfect for me. I’ll try soon. Thank you very much!!!

  • April 28, 2010 7:31am

    The bread looks amazing! We are carboholics in our house and what could be better then bread and chocolate? I think I will try making this with my kids. Thanks for sharing.

  • April 28, 2010 7:47am

    wow. This is dedication. Sorry I was not around to try you out testing yet another variation! (Wish I had your patience on variations. My variations are always due to me running out of an ingredient or two, and sometimes I saw the light with a random substituition, but most of the time you barely notice the difference, and occasionally you do get a disaster).

  • April 28, 2010 7:48am

    Great primer on how to tweak and test. I really appreciate your insights. Thanks David. My wife will love this bread!

  • April 28, 2010 7:50am

    What is it with chocolate, beside that facts that it is legal, tastes great, is affordable, and makes us feel great?

    As usual, you are feeding my habit.

  • Susie
    April 28, 2010 7:57am

    For crying out loud, David, send us your addr so we can send you some chocolate chips! Only one bag left?!? Not good!

  • April 28, 2010 8:11am

    I’m so excited – I’ve searched HIGH and low for chocolate bread. Now I can make the Bongo Room’s Chocolate Tower French Toast – Thanks to you!
    ~Mary

  • April 28, 2010 8:31am

    this looks FABULOUS, thanks for sharing the recipe on the blog – i don’t believe the book is available in switzerland yet (especially in english). but on one of my trips home i am SO buying it. :)

  • April 28, 2010 8:50am

    Joan: I’ve not had great luck with SAF yeast. I know people say it’s great, but I’ve tried it a few times and can’t get it to proof or rise properly. I buy it in Arab markets, where it comes in sealed tins and I check the expiration date. So I often bring back a few packets of yeast from the states for recipe testing.

    Erin: You can order books in English (including mine) from Book Depository, which offers free shipping around the world. (Not everywhere, but close!)

    elemjay: Oops, got my metrics switched up. And I think you did, too ; )
    Thanks for pointing that out!

    Susie: I usually use chopped chocolate, which I prefer. But some folks like chips so I try to test recipes with both.

  • April 28, 2010 9:05am

    This looks awesome. There’s a bakery in my ‘hood that makes a chocolate cherry bread that this reminds me of… if the recipe works the first time, the 2nd time I might have to try putting cherries in.
    It’s funny, I’m not a big chocolate guy, but I like it best in non-dessert situations.

  • Karin
    April 28, 2010 9:14am

    Dylan … David … oh a sourdough version, yes please!

  • April 28, 2010 9:29am

    Thanks for doing all the testing for us! I can’t wait to try this. I’ve never had a chocolate bread made with yeast. I’m growing tired of what we call ‘quick breads’ which are nothing more than muffin batter cooked in a loaf pan. What’s your take on quick breads? Any favorites?

  • Sue
    April 28, 2010 9:43am

    Would it be weird to serve this in the evening with a red wine? I like wine but I don’t know much about which wines go best with which foods.

  • April 28, 2010 9:45am

    The pictures looked lovely and mouthwatering. I wish I knew how to operate our oven, I would go crazy just baking stuff.

  • Cyndy
    April 28, 2010 9:48am

    Okay, David and Elemjay, the final answer is, please… “The bread is done when it registers” What Degree F or What Degree C?

    David, your food photography skills are amazing. You could make lima beans look like something I’d actually consider eating. You’ve inspired me to try some of my own. (That would be photography, not lima beans…)

  • April 28, 2010 10:04am

    this looks absolutely amazing. can’t say i’ve ever had yeasted chocolate bread, but i will certainly try this.

    can’t wait to get ahold of your book – just got some birthday money (!!!) so i’ll pick it up off my wishlist :-)

  • Vera
    April 28, 2010 10:12am

    How cool does the chocolate mixture need to be before adding into the main mixture?

  • April 28, 2010 10:21am

    This looks fantastic, I am dying to try it! Thanks!

  • Bernadette
    April 28, 2010 10:22am

    David I just started a diet! I bet this is good warm from the oven, mmmm. . . .

  • April 28, 2010 10:50am

    This recipe looks amazing. I can see myself eating a slice with morning coffee. Maybe a batch of chocolate french toast for lunch and chocolate bread pudding with dinner.

  • April 28, 2010 10:50am

    wow david. This is bringing back awesome memories of baking this bread when my husband and I were newly married and living in Far Rockaway NY. I was (and still am) a bit scared of baking dessert but I had gotten your “Ripe for Dessert” book out of the library and wanted to trying every single recipe! And I do remember the intoxicating smell while it was baking. Must make this again-thank you for sharing the recipe!

  • April 28, 2010 10:54am

    Wow. Chocolate and bread…two of my favorite things in one stop. Definitely trying this! I love the comparison section of this post, i.e. nuts vs. no nuts. So interesting and informative for us not so savvy bakers. Please do that again in the future:)

    btw, I never thought about the fact that chocolate chips don’t melt. Funny, how you grow up with something and never question it’s design. I like to chop my own chocolate as well, but when lazy, often use the chips. Not so sure I will anymore. Kind of weirds me out. What in the heck is in them that keeps them from melting?

    Love the post:)

  • Susan
    April 28, 2010 11:03am

    Wow! What a PB&J sandwich this would make!
    Question? How long will this keep (yeah, right!) and how to store it? Can it be frozen or will it bloom the chocolate bits too unappetizingly?

  • shannon anderson
    April 28, 2010 11:03am

    i just mixed this up this morning and I added cranberries instead of nuts….I’m certain that it’ll be fantastic. the dough sure was tasty.

  • April 28, 2010 11:05am

    Oh this looks so good! As always, thank you for sharing. Your book arrived in the post a couple of days ago and it just so happened to fall open on the chocolate chip cookie page. Cue a quick trip to the local shop for chocolate. I love love LOVE them!!! I did the most idiotic thing though and halved the recipe… Why??! I’m actually suffering withdrawal symptoms… By the way, if I can’t fit into my wedding dress in a few month’s time, I’m totally blaming you ;-)

  • Deborah
    April 28, 2010 11:53am

    Mmmm…can’t wait to make this and then try french toast or bread pudding with it, if I can keep my kids from making peanut butter sandwiches!

  • April 28, 2010 12:10pm

    I have been wondering about bread flour and how essential it is…Thanks for clarifying that it is in fact essential! What an amazing bread!

  • Madeline
    April 28, 2010 12:12pm

    There’s a bakery in my hometown that makes chocolate bread and whenever we visited I begged my mom to buy some. Now it seems I can make my own whenever I want it!

  • April 28, 2010 12:18pm

    That looks amazing. At first I thought it might be like a babka type bread, but it’s so much more than that! I must make this soon.

  • April 28, 2010 12:30pm

    As I was reading, I thought: “Oh man! What great French Toast and bread pudding that would make!” And then you beat me to it! I can also imagine some nice cried cranberries or other dried fruit added to make it an even heartier snack. And to echo others, pbj with this? It would be awesome.

  • April 28, 2010 12:36pm

    Julia: To me, there’s nothing more frustrating than, what I call, the “1/4 cup squab stock-syndrome.” When recipes use an odd or obscure ingredient, when a more common one would likely suffice. The bread flour does make a less-dense loaf so I do recommend it. I’m fairly sure most American supermarkets carry it, but am not sure about elsewhere.

    Rosy: I love those cookies, too! Just be sure if you make them, and chop up your own chocolate, add the little dust-like bits of chocolate, which give the cookies a chewy, chocolate texture!

    Vera: Since chocolate doesn’t get heated up too much to be melted, it just needs to be liquified and won’t be too warm when you add it.

    Cyndy: My mother used to be make frozen lima beans, over roasted in beef fat, until crispy on the outside. Those were the best things ever! Give ’em a try..(or perhaps I should, if I could find frozen lima beans in Paris…)

  • jeffrey
    April 28, 2010 12:44pm

    David, I am so disappointed in you.

    One does not scrape chocolate off the computer keyboard.

    One licks chocolate off the keyboard (in private of course), savoring every last morsel.

  • April 28, 2010 12:54pm

    Wasn’t there some kind of chocolate bread on offer at Club Med? David, come clean. The real reason you made this bread was because you were missing your beach time. ;) Which, considering the recent turn of events affecting your vacation, I can completely understand. xo

  • Melissa M
    April 28, 2010 12:55pm

    HI David,

    This is totally off of the chocolate bread topic but I was wondering what recipe you would suggest for a layer cake of the two below

    your almond cake from Chez Panisse http://www.davidlebovitz.com/recipes/almond_cake.html

    or your almond cake from food and wine http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/almond-layer-cake-with-lemon-frosting

    I know the second is a layer cake but I really love the first recipe and have only made it as cupcakes so I’m not sure how it would hold up for a layer cake.

    Thanks!

  • April 28, 2010 12:57pm

    Love this and totally cracking up over the choc chip dilemma. I have the same problem here in Germany…

  • April 28, 2010 1:20pm

    Thanks for your “What did I try” notes–very helpful for this and other recipes. And, thanks for another excuse to have chocolate for breakfast!

  • April 28, 2010 1:51pm

    What do you think of using hazelnuts and spreading some of your homemade Nutella on it? Would it cover up the flavor of the bread? Mmm…mouth watering just thinking about it.

  • Katherine Hunter
    April 28, 2010 2:39pm

    the chocolate dough is in the proofing drawer as i write this !
    i wish i had read the comments first / maybe it is not too late to incorporate dried tart cherries that are now soaking in kirsch instead of nuts or would that just be a bit too much ? maybe the cherries for the next time

  • April 28, 2010 2:51pm

    Oh this in a bread pudding with sour cherries just might be perfection! Add a little sweetened whipped cream and my husband might be an unnecessary accessory! I am looking forward to trying it!

  • April 28, 2010 2:56pm

    I got my hands on your book a day ago and my socks flew off!
    I wrote a bit about it yesterday…
    http://parisbreakfasts.blogspot.com/2010/04/looking-for-alice.html
    Utterly luscious.
    I had to blindfold myself after the 3rd picture above – wicked!

  • Cherie on Bainbridge
    April 28, 2010 3:20pm

    Another brilliant post. And not related in the least bit to chocolate bread, but we dined at the Cafe at Chez Panisse on Monday. Not surprising, everything was delicious and very memorable. (Some of the best salad with green goddess dressing of my life – and I have had a lot of both!). What stood out the most was tiny pieces of chocolate that were part of the lovely dessert plate. Pieces of broken chocolate made with a mix of Callebaut and Amano with random nuts thrown in. It was most likely the best chocolate I have ever tasted.

    This wonderful discovery led me to have a long discussion with the equally wonderful server. We talked a lot about chocolate and she went back and forth to the kitchen to ask more of my inane questions to the pastry folks. Then we got on the subject of you! You, of Chez Panisse fame. Brace yourself. She had never heard of you, nor had the server next to her. Almost a crime. (To her benefit, she may have been in grade school when you worked there last, but still!!) She did say she sees Lindsay often. I quickly scribbled your blog address on one of the lovely CP postcards and included all the names of your books. I asked if she could make those all required reading for the rest of the servers. Hope you do not mind……

  • April 28, 2010 4:35pm

    I never thought that using the egg yolks verses the whole egg would matter except for more liquid. The bread looks lovely.

  • Stacey
    April 28, 2010 4:57pm

    David, Frozen lima beans are sold in Picard! :-)
    And, this recipe has almost convinced me to get over my fear of yeast…. yeh!

  • Patty
    April 28, 2010 5:10pm

    I thought I had the difference in dutched cocoa and natural figured out by looking at the ingredients list on the package, but maybe not. Every dutch process cocoa powder I have looked at has alkali listed in the ingredients. I just purchased some Valrhona cocoa and the only ingredient is cocoa. Since it does not have alkali in the ingredients list I didn’t think it was a dutch process type. Am I mistaken about this? Thanks for any clarification.

  • Carol
    April 28, 2010 6:05pm

    This bread is in the oven as I write. Can’t wait to enjoy it. It was simple to put together, although it does take time to get to the point of entry in oven. :)

    Just one question: Do you put the melted butter and melted chocolate in the yeast mixture with the other ingredients at Step #3? I did and hope I was correct. Maybe I missed that instruction.

    Now I am watching and waiting…Thanks for the recipe and your many efforts to make it the best.

  • April 28, 2010 6:07pm

    Great recipe. Chocolate and bread are such wonderful teamwork.

  • April 28, 2010 7:17pm

    Oh I am so going to make that as a dessert this Saturday, it’ll be nice with some fruit after a cheese fondue, and then turn the leftovers into a bread pudding – thanks Delia for that idea!

  • April 28, 2010 8:42pm

    Wow, thanks for testing out all the variations. I made chocolate no-knead bread, but honestly I couldn’t get it to be as chocolaty as I wanted.

  • Kathryn
    April 28, 2010 9:14pm

    Zingerman’s sells a chocolate-cherry bread that is quite yummy. I’m going to have to make this, and throw in some dried cherries.

  • April 28, 2010 10:15pm

    I always get a bit nervous when I try to change proportions on any kind of baked good, especially when it involves yeast. Obviously, it works! I would be really happy if I had this chocolate bread come out of my oven. I imagine the aroma of the bread baking is enough to make it worthwhile. I am more encouraged now to play with yeast doughs and see what happens! In the meantime, I will make this!

  • April 28, 2010 10:26pm

    How did you know I was craving this? Thank you for sharing and for making me even hungrier all at once!

  • April 28, 2010 10:27pm

    This recipe looks divine. I can’t wait to try it and share it with my family. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Brenda
    April 28, 2010 11:35pm

    I’ll be living in Paris for the month of May. I will be sure to try this. I have a question about flour translations. I can translate French flour into American flour (combining cake flour with all purpose). However, how does one go from American flour into French? Do you make recipes in French based on American recipes without modifying? Maybe you would make a post on this one day. I’d be interested in learning about this. I’m always afraid to use American recipes in France when the recipes includes flour.

  • April 29, 2010 1:26am

    Wow. I’ll take a warm slice slathered with Normandy butter with my bowl of morning coffee please!

    P.S. Have you tried it with a shot of espresso in the mix?

  • Mother Sweden
    April 29, 2010 3:31am

    Oh God. Tomorrow I’m going to braid it and call it Challah!

  • April 29, 2010 7:43am

    Melissa: It’s been years since I’ve made either one of those, so can’t offer much advice…except to make them both?

    Le Capitaine: I love espresso although I think a shot would get lost in the batter, and you likely wouldn’t take it. I’m not a big fan of instant coffee, but I do suggest a bit in baking certain doughs (like in this recipe, where I made it an option) for adding coffee flavor.

    Cherie: Well, you have to remember that I started there in…gulp…1983, and left about a decade ago. I thought I left a memorable impression!

    Su: Yes, I remember reading that. It’s hard to get a lot of chocolate flavor in bread, hence my use of cocoa powder, chocolate, and chips. I wasn’t a fan of the no-knead bread (and boy, did I get some brickbats thrown at me because of it!) but was thinking a chocolate variation might work and be tasty.

    Brenda: Check the links I gave at the end of the post to answer your questions about American ingredients in France.

    Patty: Valrhona cocoa powder is Dutch-processed. Am not sure why the package doesn’t list an alkalizing ingredient. ChefShop lists it as Dutch-process and so does Chocosphere.

  • April 29, 2010 8:25am

    I really enjoyed reading this post. The play-by-play as you tested recipes is both entertaining and informative. Thanks! Oh, and if you need anyone else to send a loaf of chocolate bread with a few slices missing, I’m here, by all means.

  • April 29, 2010 8:27am

    Yes! At long last your a bread geek…now how bout making it sourdough???

    Cheers!

  • Annie
    April 29, 2010 8:59am

    Whoa! I have never heard of chocolate bread before, but what a yummy way to have breakfast. I envy you.

  • Sini
    April 29, 2010 9:21am

    I have never heard about chocolate bread before! The pictures look mouth-watering and I will definitely try out your recipe once I get back home.

  • April 29, 2010 11:59am

    I can almost smell that bread thru my computer screen. Mmmmm….
    Suzanne

  • TracyLH
    April 29, 2010 12:26pm

    Oh, this looks heavenly! This will go on the “must try” list immediately. Thank you so much for sharing this. This looks delightful. Next I will have to go through and see if you have a recipe to try for pains au chocolate. It was one of my first treats in Paris and I would love to try to make it as well.

  • yokada
    April 29, 2010 12:56pm

    you have answered my prayer to the baking gods! My little local bakery does a lovely chocolate bread with bittersweet chocolate chunks and dried cherries every december for the holidays, that i just adore. but will being able to make this year round ruin the holiday excitement of their chocolate bread? to bake or not to bake? ’tis a chocolate conundrum.

  • Anne
    April 29, 2010 12:57pm

    I made this last night and it was great! I’m definitely thinking about making the remaining bread into bread pudding. One change I would make in the future, though, is to use less instant espresso. Perhaps mine is particularly strong, but it overpowers the chocolate flavor, rather than enhancing it. I often use instant espresso this way, so I think it just might need less of the brand I’m using.

  • Tiare Ferrari
    April 29, 2010 1:36pm

    Your personal notes are invaluable!! It is these morsels of “play” that allow and invite further create and play.

    Thank you for that!

  • Mrs Redboots
    April 29, 2010 1:59pm

    Oh, this looks so good! But you don’t say – did you use wholemeal bread flour or white?

  • Vivian
    April 29, 2010 2:01pm

    Wow…this post has sure gotten a lot of people baking chocolate bread…me included! Do you think that the planet’s atmosphere has registered a touch more “chocolate” in the last week?! All kidding aside, thanks David, for such a fine recipe. It’s always a treat to read your posts.

  • Denise
    April 29, 2010 2:19pm

    There’s a bakery in the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia that has chocolate bread with dried cherries in it. It’s TO DO FOR! I would try that with this recipe.

  • talia
    April 29, 2010 2:28pm

    this looks delicious. and if its not cake i can justify eating lots of it! i’m a novice bread baker and have been trying lots of no knead recipes so i’m thinking of seeing if i can make the conversion of this recipe into no knead. we shall see…!

  • April 29, 2010 2:49pm

    Hi David~!

    Every time I read your posts where you’ve made multiple versions of something, I wonder, “Where does it all go?” From the looks of you, you don’t even taste your baking! Thanks for letting us know who gets the goods. My “extras” invariably end up at the Audi repair place – helpful, since my car is now 13 years old ; )

    I love your new book – and thanks for sharing the ones that “didn’t make it” in, xoxox.

  • April 29, 2010 3:40pm

    Wow! Need I say more?? Absolutely tasty. A loaf of this out of the oven and in my family stomachs in seconds! Thanks for the awesome post!

  • Kristi
    April 29, 2010 4:03pm

    Your blog makes me feel so guilty, David. I see things like this and feel like a complete plebian. One of the first thoughts that came to mind was what an amazing fried peanut butter and banana sandwich this would make. Alas, the Memphian in me cannot be stifled.

    Speaking of bananas, I recently got your latest cookbook, and the first thing I made was the banana cake. My sister is very anti-nut, so the nuts in the cake were replaced with chopped chocolate, and to fill the cake I whipped up some peanut butter icing. Best cake I’ve ever had, hands down, and my boyfriend will not stop singing its praises.
    Also, your chocolate chip cookie recipe, with chopped hazelnuts, has become my new default recipe. I believe my history teacher implied he could be easily bribed to give me better grades with them.
    In a way, I feel kind of childish, replacing things in your recipe with altogether less sophisticated ingredients. But it’s so goood!

  • April 29, 2010 5:07pm

    WOW…I have never even had chocolate bread before, but, this post, it definitely makes me want to try it…..topped with Nutella :D

  • chanie
    April 29, 2010 6:13pm

    any thoughts on making this dairy free?
    you address the issue of milk v. water; any thoughts on the butter? can i use oil (maybe olive?) instead? i’m sure the buttery flavor is great, and will try that too, but am wondering about making it without dairy.

    thanks!

  • April 29, 2010 7:41pm

    Regarding instant (rapid rise) yeast versus active dry or fresh yeast: What we have found that works, especially if using bread flour, is to use only .35 (or 35%) by weight of the fresh yeast called for in the recipe. Thus: if 10 grams of fresh yeast is called for, use 3.5 grams of instant yeast. This does mean that you will often have to weight your ingredient but then, that tends to work well anyway.

    Instant yeast does not have to be ‘bloomed.” It can be added directly to the flour. However, since salt will kill yeast, I add the yeast to the flour at the beginning of the process and make sure to add the salt after the other two are well mixed.

  • April 29, 2010 8:00pm

    That is such a lovely, dark, rich looking dough that I just have to give it a go!! My kids will REALLY love me when they come home from school today!

  • April 29, 2010 8:14pm

    You know one of the things I really like about this post? It came in handy.

    Someone just asked me about selling a recipe to a publication, and then wanting to use it later in a cookbook. I sent her to this post, as it explains how to reformulate an earlier recipe to make it your own again. I know that was not your intention, but it was useful from that standpoint.

    Not to mention how good that slice looks. The first time I had chocolate bread was during breakfast with Amanda Hesser at Balthazar in NY. Will never forget that dense chocolate taste in something so innocent: bread. Almost seemed healthy!

  • April 29, 2010 11:31pm

    Well, now I know how I’m spending my Friday…I love your persistence with these recipes. I trust them. And when you live an hour and a half from ingredients, that is saying quite a bit.

  • Clea Walford
    April 30, 2010 1:39am

    what shall I say – this is another ‘must-try’ recipe.

  • April 30, 2010 4:52am

    Jennifer: Thanks for your tips on instant yeast. I don’t normally proof yeast, even active dry, if I know it’s fresh since it’ll rise when making the sponge. But since I often use products I’m unfamiliar with (like the SAF yeast I’ve tried), I like to make sure before adding expensive ingredients.

    mrs. redboots: Unless otherwise indicated, flour is my recipes is what we call ‘all-purpose’ white flour in the US. Am not sure how it’s referred to elsewhere, though.

    chanie: I tried it with vegetable oil and didn’t like the results. But if you try it with a variation, let me know how it turns out.

    yokada (and others): I know that Nancy Silverton at La Brea bakery does (or did) a chocolate-cherry bread. One could certainly add dried sour cherries, or another dried fruit.

  • April 30, 2010 5:19am

    What. a. great. post! Thanks for trying out all the different ways and sharing the differences you noticed. I laughed so hard when you mentioned your delivery man.

    I also try to avoid recipes that call for yolks only…leftover whites can be a big headache.

    99% of the time, I never substitute oil for butter as it tends to mar the texture and, as you mentioned, give the bread a strange oily smell.

  • Julie
    April 30, 2010 8:24am

    Tried it and LOVE it! I really like the bread taste to it.
    My only issue was that it did not seem to rise, except when baking. The end result is very acceptable but does not have a bread texture. It actually is pretty crumbly. Could it be that I worked it too much?

    In any case, this week-end, there will be french toast for breakfast. Can’t wait…

  • April 30, 2010 12:44pm

    i like that you re-tried the recipes and experimented, seeing what works best or differently. I vote for nuts.

  • Jen
    April 30, 2010 2:31pm

    Hi David!

    I made the chocolate bread last night and It is great! I think I overbaked it a bit, but it is still wonderful. The house still smells so good!

    Thank you for sharing! I am going to make another loaf on Sunday!

  • April 30, 2010 5:27pm

    jen: It does smell good, doesn’t it? I loved the aroma that came out of my oven when I made it. Each and every time..

    Julie: It does not rise as much as traditional bread, I think because of all the chocolate in it. It should be like the texture in the last picture, not cake-like, but somewhat like a yeasted cake. If it’s crumbly, you might have overbaked it. You can use it for bread pudding!

    Another Foodie: I don’t mind leftover egg whites, since I have a lot of recipes that use just egg whites. Or I make egg white omelettes : )

  • Kristin
    May 1, 2010 9:44am

    I started reading the post thinking, “I missed this one in the book,” but all was made clear. AND I just happen to have some whole milk in the fridge since I just made ice cream from The Perfect Scoop to take to a dinner party tonight. Now I know what to do with it!

  • Joy
    May 2, 2010 3:00pm

    “And also my friends (and neighbors…and vendors at the market…and delivery men…) were beginning to request something other than loaves of chocolate bread with a few slices taken out. So I decided it was time to stop”
    Ha! I’m still reconciling myself to sharing bread this way. And I’m really stuck on cake. How do you share part of a cake?

  • Ken
    May 2, 2010 10:00pm

    Thanks for sharing this, David. I have a question about the recipe. Chocolate is listed twice in the ingredients, then mentioned in steps 2 and 7. Is it to be added once in a melted state, and then again later in chunks? Because the two quantities are so similar, does it matter which quantity is which?

  • May 3, 2010 1:24am

    Ken: In recipes, ingredients are listed in order that they’re used. So the 3 ounces (85 g) of chocolate gets melted, and the chopped chocolate, listed at the end of the ingredient lists, gets mixed in at the end.

    Joy: People are used to getting cakes from me with one piece taken out!

  • May 3, 2010 2:33am

    Oh, yum yum yum! I want!

  • May 3, 2010 12:13pm

    David, I tried it, it rose nicely, it tastes wonderful, but it’s more cakey than bready. I baked per your recipe, with the bread flour, to an internal temperature of 180F, but I baked at 6000 feet. Is the bread fairly fragile, due to the butter and chocolate in it, or may that have to do with altitude?

  • May 3, 2010 7:25pm

    The question of Dutch process cocoa vs natural cocoa has come up before when I’ve wanted to make a delicious-sounding recipe, so I decided to do some research to see if I could puzzle out the chemistry of it once and for all. After said research, I believe I can now say with some confidence that perhaps using natural cocoa didn’t make the bread rise as well in one of your experiments because as an acid, it needs an alkali such as baking soda in order to prompt a leavening action in the oven when baked, which causes the batter to rise (source: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/CocoaTypes.htm). Your recipe doesn’t call for any baking soda, so there wasn’t anything for the acid to interact with and thus cause the rising action.

    That’s my unproven/unprofessional theory, anyway. I will be experimenting with adding baking soda to the recipe and using natural cocoa, not just because I currently have the latter on hand (and supposedly has a more complex chocolate flavor), but also because now I just have to know!

  • pf
    May 3, 2010 7:28pm

    I made this with instant yeast, following the substitutions listed in “The Bakers Dozen” (remember that one?), and proofed the yeast first as the book recommended for sweet breads. You’re right, not quite bread, not pound cake, a unique texture. The taste reminds me of a chocolate cheesecake – perhaps some tang from the yeast?

  • May 4, 2010 11:12am

    What a fantastic idea. I love that this bread is indeed bread, and not a super sweet loaf. Can’t wait to try it.

  • kayenne
    May 4, 2010 2:11pm

    i remember my bread baking instructor teaching us baking by percentages. one should use 3% fresh yeast or 2% dry yeast or 1% instant yeast BY WEIGHT in relation to the flour weight(100%). i hope i explained that correctly.

    david,

    you mentioned that this dough is softer… what did you change to make it so? would the final dough texture before baking still be sticky or just more “gloopy” and unable to hold a definite firmer shape? would this change make the final product more cake-like, as mentioned by your other readers?

    thanks!

  • May 6, 2010 2:27pm

    Thank-you for all those extra comments. What a treat to see those sorts of debates addressed so honestly.

  • May 8, 2010 11:49am

    There’s a great little boulangerie on rue de Charenton, between rue Taine and blvd de Reuilly. They make a fantastic chocolate bread that I miss terribly. It’s more like a sourdough with chocolate chunks. They sell it as a petite pain and you can find them teasing pedestrians on weekend mornings with their breads.

    I wish I knew the name of the boulangerie, it’s near the great fromagerie. It seems to be owned and run by a small group of young women that are very passionate about their bread and pastries.

    Just out of curiousity, have you tried this place and if so, how does it match your recipe?

  • Emily
    May 12, 2010 11:35pm

    Hurrah! I’ve been wanting to reproduce some chocolate rolls I used to get in North Carolina, and I think this will be a great starting point. Thank you!

  • May 15, 2010 6:06pm

    David, this is an awesome post. I love your idea of using the bread in bread pudding or for French toast. How marvelous. Heading to the OtherWorldly Kitchen now to bake a loaf. I’m assuming this is a perfect main course for dinner, right? With a few strawberries of course. :-) … Susan

  • Rebecca
    May 19, 2010 1:33pm

    Do you think I could let this rise in the fridge overnight, then add the nuts/chips after letting it come to room temp and bake?

  • Hanaa
    June 11, 2010 1:21pm

    At first, I thought it was a quickbread, but no, it’s yeast bread. Now I’m even more intrigued. I’m thinking some orange zest would perfume it really nicely and complement the chocolate (if you like choc + citrus, which I do). Thanks for the recipe, David.
    I landed in Paris last Friday but only had 1 hour to catch my connecting flight :o( I was able to see the Eiffel tower from my airplane window though… Did you see me wave? :o)

  • June 13, 2010 3:42pm

    Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe! I made 2 loaves – with bread flour and with gluten-free flour – both great, though I normally don’t eat chocolate!
    I doubled the flour quantity, otherwise it was almost liquid.
    Thank you thank you thank you! Will sure make again!

  • cara_mia
    June 20, 2010 12:40am

    It’s funny – for years, it seemed all you could find in the grocery stores (at least in upstate NY) was Dutch processed cocoa. Now, it seems all you can find is natural. I can’t even find plain Hershey’s cocoa any more – just the Special Dark, which is a blend of Dutch and natural. For those in the US outside of major cities who have the same problem, Penzeys offers both by mail order.

    Bread flour is easy to find in the US these days. Even Super Wal-Mart sells King Arthur brand, and I think they sell other brands as well.

  • July 1, 2010 11:54am

    Hi David,

    This looks gorgeous. I stumbled upon your recipes and now I am so hooked. After your tests and experiments, it would be a shame if I wasn’t going to try this soon. Just a quick question first… for this step “If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and beat for five minutes, until smooth.”… do I have to mix until it’s smooth and elastic i.e. pass the so-called membrane test?

    Ronni
    The Novice “Baker” from Singapore

  • August 29, 2010 3:27am

    It took me a while to finally get around trying out this recipe, but I know I’ll be making this over and over again. This bread was absolutely delicious and incredibly moist. I gave it an extra twist by adding a bit of banana bread batter on top. Thanks so much once again!