If you’re a fan of the Dixie Hemingway Mystery Series, you know about the chocolate bread that Cora Mathers makes in her old bread-making machine. A lot of readers have written asking me for the recipe for that bread, but I don’t have it. The fictional chocolate bread that I write about is based on my memory of chocolate bread that a neighbor used to make in an old bread making machine. Like the chocolate bread that Dixie gets orgasmic over, my neighbor’s bread had oozy semi-sweet chocolate chips in a rather dense bread. All she would say about making it was that the timing of adding the chocolate chips was crucial. She took the secret of that bread to her grave, and she would get a real kick out of the curiosity it has aroused.
I don’t bake, so I’ve never tried to duplicate the chocolate bread, but several readers have given it a try in their own bread making machines and sent me the recipes. They all sounded wonderful, but I wasn’t sure they were like my friend’s bread so I went to the experts at King Arthur Flour. The gifted bakers at King Arthur put out a monthly catalog of recipes and ready-to-bake mixes that causes me to decide every month to take up baking as a hobby. I don’t, of course, but every time I get one of their catalogs I greatly enjoy the fantasy that I might.
I described Cora’s bread and asked if they could duplicate it. Mary Tinkham of the King Arthur kitchen thought their chocolate marble bread recipe would work, omitting the walnuts and putting in 1/4 cup chocolate chips at the beginning to get the dark color I remember. The rest of the chocolate chips would be added when there’s about three minutes to go on the knead cycle. (Several readers have found that freezing the chocolate chips before adding them helps keep the oozy quality that Cora’s chocolate chips have.)
Mary thinks my old friend’s bread machine — and the fictional Cora’s — was a Dak machine, one of the first bread machines on the market. She found a chocolate bread recipe made for that machine, and has written a variation that will be in the Summer 2010 Baking Sheet, the King Arthur newsletter/magazine. If you have a bread machine and would like to try duplicating Cora Mathers chocolate bread, here’s Mary Tinkham’s recipe.
1 packet instant yeast
3 cups unbleached bread flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa
¼ cup soft butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Using the directions for your particular machine, place all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips into the pan of your bread machine. Program the machine for raisin bread, if possible.
Add the chocolate chips at the signal; or, if you have no raisin bread cycle, add them about 3 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle. Yield: one 6 to 7-inch loaf.
If this is like my friend’s bread, it is better broken into chunks rather than sliced.