“His loaf has more chocolate chips than the one you last baked for me!” my daughter said as her sibling-rivalry-double-x-ray vision started to bore holes through the bread that I made for my son. Each semester when he heads back to college, I bake my son a loaf of chocolate-coconut bread to carry on the plane. Maybe my daughter had a point. She also could’ve been wrong. All I knew is that I didn’t want her pointing her double-x-ray vision at me. Who knew what she would find? Nevertheless, when I started to explain that I usually don’t weigh the chips, she looked at me with a—you’ve got to be kidding me—glare. “You are going to put more chocolate chips in the next loaf that you bake for me. Thanks, dad.”
Chocolate. Chocolate-coconut. Chocolate-coconut bread. Three words linked together like a copywriter’s dream. This bread makes everyone smile. Just writing that line makes me want to get up and start mixing a loaf. Thirty seconds of mixing is all that is required because you don’t have to knead the dough. Jim Lahey, who started the no-knead craze, created this recipe after tasting a loaf of coconut bread at a Jamaican spot that was near his bakery. The addition of chocolate to the recipe was inspired by his childhood passion for Mounds bars. This bread isn’t as rich as it sounds. Other than chocolate, there’s no sugar or butter in the recipe. It’s perfect for breakfast, though I wouldn’t fault you for eating it any other time of the day. I do, however, want to warn you that as the bread bakes, the scent from the one-two combination of chocolate and coconut will drive you crazy. As Odysseus resisted the temptation of the Sirens, you too must resist your uncontrollable urge to cut or rip off a piece as soon as you take it out of the oven. As with all bread, this needs to cool down before you can cut into it.
I baked a loaf while my son was home during his break from school because I wouldn’t be able to bake one for him to take on the plane. I could hear my daughter’s voice as I added chocolate chips to the flour. Maybe I added more. Maybe I didn’t. “Dad,” she said, after eating a few slices. I was waiting for her to bust me on a technicality that I didn’t bake it solely for her. “Do you remember the bread with poppy seeds and onions? When can you bake that for me?” Here we go again. How much onion did I use the last time I baked it?
Coconut-Chocolate Bread (Jim Lahey’s recipe)
2 cups + 2 tablespoons (280 grams) all-purpose flour
2 cups (100 grams) unsweetened large-flake coconut
1 cup (150 grams) semisweet chocolate chunks
¾ teaspoon (4 grams) salt
¼ teaspoon (1 gram) yeast
1¼ cups (280 grams) water
I use the same amount of chocolate and coconut as Jim Lahey does, but I increase the amount of flour to approx. 4 cups (453 grams) and water to 1½ cups (350 grams). I also use a bit more salt (8 grams/1½ teaspoons).
Mix together flour, half the coconut, the chocolate, salt, and yeast. Add water and stir for about 30 seconds. The dough should be wet and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic and let sit for 12-18 hours. Dust your counter with a generous amount of flour. Scrape the dough out of your bowl in one piece. Gently shape the dough to make a round loaf. After rounding, place on a towel that has been dusted with flour. Sprinkle with remaining coconut and fold the top of the towel over it (or cover with another towel). Let it rise for about 1½ hours. Halfway through the rise, place a Dutch oven with its lid on in the oven and pre-heat oven to 475°. Remove Dutch oven and carefully plop the dough into the pot. Replace lid and bake covered for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 450°. Remove lid and continue baking an additional 15 minutes. Lift the bread out of the Dutch oven and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.
This recipe also works well for chocolate-cherry bread or chocolate-cranberry bread. Just replace the coconut with dried cherries or cranberries.