I’ve previously written about the white bread recipe from Josey Baker Bread. While that has become one of my go-to breads when I am baking for my daughter—and each time I am thrilled with the results and simplicity of making it—it was merely a prelude, a huge tease for what was to come: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pocket Breads.
My daughter was flipping through the pages of Josey Baker Bread when her eyes glommed onto the photograph of a pocket bread that had been cut open. Melted chocolate peanut butter was oozing out, its gooeyness a hypnotic rhapsody. When she asked if I could make these, what she was really asking was when could I make them. I looked at the recipe. “This uses a sourdough starter and it has whole-wheat flour in it. You don’t like sourdough or whole wheat.” Her eyes looked like a slot machine at Vegas. Two huge chocolate peanut butter cups were staring at me. “I don’t care, dad. When could you make them?” I started mumbling about having to refresh my starter and that the pocket breads needed to rise in the refrigerator. What I didn’t let her know was that I, too, had glommed onto how much fun it would be to bake these in muffin tins. I also didn’t tell her that even though I almost never eat things like chocolate peanut butter pocket breads, I had to restrain myself from cutting out the photograph and biting into it.
My daughter had to wait impatiently before she could take her first bite. Each morning we had our ritual. She would stare at me in a pleading way and I would say, “not yet.” Of the things that my daughter doesn’t like, waiting and being teased are at the top of her list. In fairness to her, it did take three or four days, but that’s because I had to refresh my starter. As with Baker’s other recipes, you can adjust the baking schedule to fit into your day. You can even keep dough in the refrigerator for up to a week. And if sourdough isn’t your thing, you could use a recipe that is yeast-based. It did feel mischievous, chopping up peanut butter cups and adding them to the dough. It felt like I was smuggling candy into a movie theatre. These are the way to go if you’re looking to kick start your day with gooey goodness. Though they sound decadent, as with most breads with chocolate, they’re not actually sweet. My daughter did say I should use Reese’s next time instead of Trader Joes’ dark chocolate peanut butter cups and that it needed more peanut butter cups. In other words, I should use the amount called for in the recipe. I confess. It’s always hard for me to use the amount of something like chocolate that a recipe calls for but a few extra peanut butter cups would have been nice, too. Truth is, I didn’t want to buy another package of peanut butter cups.
Baker calls these “pocket breads” because they’re like bread that can fit into your pocket. He includes recipes for dark chocolate cherry, golden raisin and fennel, and bacon and sun-dried tomato pocket breads. There’s no limit to what you can throw into the dough. For now, I know the way into my daughter’s heart, even if it’s going to take more chocolate peanut butter cups.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pocket Breads (from Josey Baker Bread)
1 tablespoon (15 grams) sourdough starter
½ cup (120 grams) cool water (60°F/15°C)
¾ cup (105 grams) whole-wheat flour
1 cup (220 grams) chocolate peanut butter cups
1¼ cups (220 grams) lukewarm water (80°F/27°C)
3 cups (450 grams) bread flour
2 teaspoons (12 grams) salt
Make your sourdough pre-ferment 8 to 12 hours before you want to start mixing your dough—likely in the evening before you go to bed or in the morning. You want it to be the consistency of thick pancake batter. Put the sourdough starter, cool water, and whole-wheat flour in a big bowl. Mix it up real good. Cover with a plate or plastic wrap and leave it alone for 8 to 12 hours.
Chop your peanut butter cups into roughly ¼-in/6-mm pieces.
Mix the dough. Uncover the bowl of sourdough pre-ferment, and take a big whiff. It should be putting off a pretty strong smell, nice and yummy, maybe a touch sour. Add the lukewarm water, bread flour, salt, and chocolate peanut butter cups. Mix everything together so that it’s evenly combined, just for 30 seconds to a minute. Cover with a plate or plastic wrap, and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour, whatever is convenient.
Gently stretch and fold the dough. Dip your hand in a bowl of water, then reach down into the side of the dough bowl, grab a little bit of it, and pull it up and push it down on top of the dough. Rotate the bowl a little bit and do it again to another portion of the dough. Give the dough about ten stretches and folds. Cover the dough, and let it sit for ½ hour.
Stretch and fold a few more times. After ½ hour, stretch and fold the dough another ten times. Cover the dough, and leave it alone for another ½ hour or so. Do this another two times, at 15- to 30-minute intervals.
If you want to shape your pocket breads in 3 to 4 hours, let the dough sit out somewhere in your kitchen. If you want to shape your pocket breads anywhere from 12 to 48 hours later, stick it in the fridge (or just outside if it’s cool out—about 45°F/7°C).
Grease your muffin tin. Use vegetable oil or nonstick spray to coat the individual cups.
Shape your pocket breads. Flour your counter and dump out the dough. Cut the dough into ¾-cup (100 gram) pieces (to fill up your muffin tin about two-thirds of the way) and use a little bit of flour on your hands to shape them into round balls. Plop the pocket breads into your muffin tin, seam-side down. When you’re all done, put the whole thing in a plastic bag, so that the tops don’t dry out.
If you want to bake your pocket breads in 3 to 4 hours, let them sit out somewhere in your kitchen. If you want to bake them anywhere from 6 to 24 hours later, stick them in the fridge (or just outside if it’s cool out—about 45°F/7°C).
Preheat. Once your pocket breads have risen, preheat your oven to 450°F/230°C for 20 minutes. If you put the pocket breads in the fridge, take them out while the oven is preheating so that they can warm up to room temperature before you bake them.
Bake your pocket breads. Take the pans out of the plastic bag, slash the top of each pocket bread with a razor, spray their tops with water, using a spray bottle, and get them in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then quickly open the oven, spray them again, and just as quickly close the oven. Bake for another 25 minutes, and check on them. You’ll know they are done when the slashed portions are good and dark brown.
Take the breads out of the pan, and let them cool on a cooling rack.