On Valentine's Day, nothing says "I love you" like chocolate, cut flowers, and candy message hearts (specifically Fax me). Personally, I feel that bread is a lot more like love than any of those classic Valentine's gifts. Like love, bread requires time, heat, and proper kneading.
Nothing seemed more fitting for Valentine's Day than a boule of chocolate sourdough. I read a couple of different recipes for choco-sourdough bread. Naturally, I decided I would take the Pain au Levain recipe I used for the first sourdough and alter it to suit my Valentine's purposes.
First, I mixed
2 1/2 cups ripe starter
1 cup rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups of all-purpose flour
and 1 1/2 cups warm water
I read that using rye and whole wheat give sourdough an extra twang.
Then, I waited about 30 minutes. Autolyse!
When I went to knead the dough and found it was quite wet. I added about 1/4 a cup of all-purpose flour while kneading. Then, I kneaded in the 3 tsp salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup cocoa. The dough felt awesome and smelled delicious. Suddenly and unexpectedly, some sort of a reaction occurred. The dough became super sticky. SCIENCE!! I startled Andy awake to flour my mess that was supposed to be perfect Be Mine Sourdough bread.
Feeling disheartened, I generously floured (with Andy's help) a cotton dishtowel and let the dough rise there for about 1 hour. Since I had committed to babysit this evening (under the impression that Andy would already be in Peru), I left Andy to chop a bar of 70% cocoa and fold it into the dough. Love is trust. He shaped the dough into a boule and placed it into Lil's dutch oven to rise until I returned home (7 hours later).
When I got home, we revved up the oven to 450°F and popped the loaf in the oven -- cooking uncovered for 20 minutes with steam and 25 covered without (45 minutes total).
How to turn your oven into a sauna: To create a steamy oven place a cast iron pan on the bottom rack of the oven as it preheats. Meanwhile, boil some water on the stovetop. You may want to turn on a fan for this. It's getting hot in herre. Then, as the oven comes up to 450°F put the boule in (uncovered) as you pour about 1 cup of water into the cast iron pan. ¡CUIDATE! This creates a lot of steam so work quickly and carefully. Avoid steam burns. If you have a spray bottle (we don't) you can also squirt some water in there. Regardless, don't steam for more than 20 minutes or you'll get a tough crust. We are going for chewy, not tough. You'll find this activity is easier if you are an octopus-chef or with the help of a friend/lover.
To be super adorable I slashed a heart (about 1/4 inch deep) into the top crust before it went into the oven. I can't take credit for the idea -- I saw it on the loaves at Orwasher's Bakery.
XOXO Happy Valentine's Day!
P.S. As we are biting into the bread Andy told me he decided a bar of chocolate was too much and only put in "3/5" of a bar. It's delicious but for an extra sweet Valentine's Day I would recommend some peanut butter or nutella.