My mom recently told me that her friend Elizabeth is the strongest person she’s ever known.
Elizabeth and her husband are very close friends of my parents. In fact, my parents absolutely adore them. I do too.
At a routine physical exam, a year or so ago, Elizabeth was diagnosed with Mylogenous Lukemia. In the past year, she’s been through chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and a bone marrow transplant.
I’m extremely thrilled to report that Elizabeth is currently healthy and doing very well! And she’s baking bread! Lots of incredibly delicious bread!
As a result of insomnia that came during Elizabeth’s treatments and recovery, she found herself in the kitchen, late at night, experimenting with bread making. And it turns out she’s a natural. Sweet, savory, you name it, she can bake it!
The idea of Elizabeth sharing her bread on Cooking On The Weekends came to me when I walked into my parents’ kitchen the other day to see this beautiful, rustic, Bittersweet Chocolate Coconut Bread sitting on the counter. And — OMG — was it delicious! I mean, crazy delicious!
Oh, and please meet sweet Bella of Bella’s Breadbox. Adorable!
I’m hoping Elizabeth will grace us with another bread recipe again soon! In the meantime, you can find Elizabeth (and Bella) at Bella’s Breadbox!
Makes 1 (8-inch) round loaf, approximately 1-1/2-pounds
Prep Time: about 20 hours (Yes, you heard me right, but don’t worry, 99% of this is rising time.)
Baking time: about 40 minutes
(Adapted from Jim Lahey’s, My Bread)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
2 cups loosely packed unsweetened large flake coconut
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast or active dry yeast
1-1/4 cups cool water (about 55 to 65 degrees F)
Additional flour for dusting
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the flour, half of the coconut, the chocolate, salt and yeast. Add the water and using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until the surface is puffy and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.
When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands or a spatula, lift the edges of the dough in towards the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.
Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with flour and sprinkle it with 1/2 cup of the coconut. Gently place the dough on the towel with the seam side down, and lightly sprinkle the surface with the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours.
The dough is ready when it is almost doubled in size. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.
Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat your oven to 475 degrees with a rack in the center, and place a covered 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 quart heavy pot in the center of the rack. (You’re preheating the oven with the covered pot in it.)
Carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. Cover the pot, and return it to the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, about 10 to 15 more minutes.
Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to gently lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly, about an hour.
Elizabeth’s tips for success:
- Don’t worry if your dough looks too sticky – you want it to be very wet. And I always let the dough sit for the full 18 hours – the longer the dough ferments, the richer the flavor of the bread.
- Resist the urge to use sweetened coconut because the sugar causes the bread to burn… badly. You can find unsweetened coconut at Gelson’s and Surfas.
- The recipe says to place the pot on the lower one-third rack but my oven runs a little hot so I moved it up a rack. I also place parchment paper on the bottom of the pot (but don’t preheat the pot with the parchment paper in it) – it helps avoid the chocolate chunks on the bottom from burning.
- Don’t be afraid of turning the dough into the pot. Just go gently and slowly, otherwise flour ends up all over the oven, the floor, the counters – not that that’s ever happened to me.
- The most difficult part of this recipe is waiting an hour for the bread to cool. We’ve been known to cut into it after 15 minutes when it’s still hot and oozing chocolate.
Images and recipe are courtesy of Bella’s Breadbox.