Monday, February 16, 2009

Coffee Can Bread and Triple Hot Chocolate

I've been making coffee can bread on occasions for over ten years. I don't make it very often, but I enjoy making it when I can. I think there is something good and wholesome about homemade bread, and I have much respect for people who bake their own bread on a regular basis. The 1987 edition of the Best of Sunset has been one of my all time favorite cookbooks. It has several really good bread recipes. It even gives instructions on how to make your own outdoor adobe oven.

Coffee Can Bread is a batter bread, so it's a dense kind of cakey bread. A couple years ago there was a big thing in the foodie world about no knead bread , which is a technique to make artisan french style bread without all the kneading. You don't do any kneading with this recipe, but it is not at all an artisan bread. If you are looking for that, this is not it. It's still an easy way to make homemade bread, and it makes good sandwich bread, so you could make cute, round sandwiches. I used a Cafe Du Monde chickory coffee can.

For the picture I left the "muffin top" on top of the slices. Kind of reminds me of that Seinfeld episode... "It's not top of the muffin TO YOU..." I pulled out a bunch of things for the boys to put on their bread, but in the end everyone wanted butter and honey. It was good. You can kind of see two faint rings etched into our table. Puddleglum uses these as templates for when he makes pizza dough. We have two pizza pans, large and medium. Puddleglum makes the dough on the table and then transfers them onto the pans. He could probably just eyeball it, but he is kind of picky about his pizza.

I'd been wanting to make some really thick and rich Mexican chocolate, so I decided to make that tonight as well. I put an Abuelita chocolate "tablet" in a mini food processor to break it up. If you've never used Abuelita or Ibarra Mexican chocolate, you need to know that you have to use a blender or a food processor to break it up. I wanted something super chocolaty, so I then fortified it with some high quality cocoa powder. In a double boiler I melted dark, bitter sweet chocolate chips with a little bit of regular chocolate chips to give a little sweetness (and because I didn't have as much of the more expensive dark chocolate chips left as I thought I did). When the chocolate was melted, I added the Abuelita chocolate and cocoa powder. I heated this for a while to get rid of some of the graininess of the large sugar crystals that comes in the Abuelita chocolate. I slowly added some milk. After that had mixed well, I added some more milk. I didn't want it to be like regular hot chocolate. I wanted it really thick and rich, so I was careful not to "water" it down with too much milk. I really like chili powder in my hot chocolate, so added that as well. Nigella Lawson likes rum in her hot chocolate, so you could add some Captain Morgan's if that's your kind of thing.

Coffee Can Batter Bread (from the Best of Sunset Magazine 1987)

1 pkg quick rise yeast
½ cup warm water (~110deg F)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
3 TBSP sugar
1 ½ cup mild
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP light olive oil
~4 ½ cup Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour
Melted Butter

Sprinkle yeast over the warm water in a large bowl. Stir in ginger and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand for about five minutes until bubbly. Stir in remaining sugar, milk, salt, and oil. Beat in 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Then add remaining flour ½ cup at a time until dough pulls from sides of bowl but is too soft to knead. The book says to use a heavy spoon, but I just used my hands. The dough should stick to your hands because it should be the consistency of a very thick batter. If it feels like you are kneading pizza dough, you’ve added too much flour.

Divide the dough in two. Put each half into a well greased 1-pound coffee can. Put the well greased plastic lids on (you can actually just stick them in the freezer at this point to bake at a later time. Let rise in a warm place until the batter pushes off the lids. Sometimes air pressure will pop the lids off before it’s finished rising. Just put the lids back on. It takes about 45-55 minutes to rise depending on the temperature in your kitchen. Start preheating the oven to 350deg F about thirty minutes in.

After they have finished rising, bake for about 45 minutes on the bottom rack. The tops should be very golden brown when you take them out. Brush the tops with the butter. Let cool on a wire rack for five minutes. Take a butter knife and loosen the bread from the sides and slide the loaf out. Let cool in an upright position on the rack. Serve warm with butter, honey, etc. You can modify this recipe to make English Muffins. If anyone is interested in that modification, just message me.

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