Tag Archives: Josey_Baker_Bread

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pocket Breads

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

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.


Josey Baker Bread — Your First Loaf Of Bread

Opening a new cookbook is like going on a first date. The attraction is already there and now you want to find out their story—what exists between the covers—and will that story lead to a second date.

The subheading to Josey Baker Bread is Get Baking • Make Great Bread • Be Happy! There is a photo on the cover of Josey Baker (yes, that is his real name) patting butter on a piece of bread. He has a huge smile on his face. Like Baker, I am always thrilled taking a loaf out of the oven. It’s a miracle to behold and celebrate and, I admit, drone on about with endless excitement. Without even cracking open the cover, I was ready for the second date.

“You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed,” the author, John Irving, writes in his novel, Hotel New Hampshire. That line has always stuck with me. When my wife reads this she will most likely say, “Of course, you would like that line. You obsess about everything.” Does obsession mean spending days writing one sentence? Lying awake dreaming about bread? That’s passion, not obsession. I love reading cookbooks where the cook or author is part shaman, part life coach, part butt kicker, part proselytizer, and totally obsessed—I mean passionate. Baker is all of these, which is why I am willing to overlook his occasional lapses into hipster speak.

Like a good loaf of bread, this book just feels at home in my hands. Chapters are divided into lessons that progress in difficulty. I hesitate using the word difficulty, because that is the last word that Baker would use. Mention the word difficulty and some of you—you know who you are—will rush off and order a pizza. These lessons are more like steps, baby steps that lead into the next chapter. Like all relationships, you are building trust and confidence. Lesson One is “Your First Loaf of Bread.” I had the perfect excuse to follow Lesson One. My daughter, who likes her bread as white as fresh snow, had asked recently if I could bake her a bread that wasn’t round and didn’t have a hard crust. I knew that the bread in Lesson One would be right up her alley. I have to admit that I, too, was looking for a change in my routine. I could’ve easily passed on this lesson but I’m glad I didn’t. It provides a framework for the rest of the book. If you follow Baker’s instructions, your first loaf won’t just be your first loaf; it will be a damn good loaf of bread. After getting comfortable with the recipe, you can start fiddling around with it, if you so choose.

The Rolling Stones weren’t singing about baking bread when they sang, “Time is on your side,” but it has become the bread baker’s mantra. Let time do the kneading. Let time develop the character of the bread. Here are the directions for the lesson: mix ingredients together until there isn’t any dry flour left, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for three hours at room temperature. The next step is to put the dough in the refrigerator for at least a day (up to a week). This is because it is easier to work with dough when it is cold. Keeping it in the fridge for a longer time will also add to the flavor of the bread. I think it would be interesting to set up a blind tasting of breads based on the length of time in the refrigerator. If you simply can’t wait, Baker offers you an out: a minimum of three hours will cool down your bread and then you can proceed. Shape the loaf and plop it into an oiled or greased loaf pan. Spray or brush the top of the loaf with oil and cover it with aluminum foil. You’re supposed to tent the foil so that the dough has room to rise. I shiver with fear at anything that resembles an arts and crafts project so I had a bit of a problem with my initial attempt at tenting. My tenting did, however, improve with each loaf that I made. The loaf rises for about four hours at room temperature. It can also sit in the fridge for up to three days before you take it out and bake it. Just keep in mind that the loaf needs to come to room temperature before baking it (you can leave it out while heating the oven). Bake it at 475° for about 40 minutes.

Josey Baker First Loaf Of Bread

Josey Baker First Loaf Of Bread

Don’t get hung up on the time that it takes to bake the breads in this book. Active time is minimal and once you figure out a schedule that works, you will be rewarded over and over. My family really liked this bread. If you’ve read my other postings, you know that I usually bake bread with a variety of whole grain flours. When I do bake white bread, it is because it makes my daughter happy. This bread made her very happy. I also had a smile on my face when I snuck a piece or two. Tasting the first slice, the end piece, with a cup of coffee, is not a bad way to start the day. I do have one warning. I thought there was too much salt in this and other recipes and I wasn’t the only one in my family who thought that. Subsequent loaves tasted better after I reduced the amount of salt. Maybe you should bake your first loaf as directed before fiddling with amount of salt. Here is a link to the recipe.

My daughter was camped out on the couch, wrapped in two or three blankets like they were lifejackets. She was sick and tired. Sick of being sick and tired of being tired. “How about some chicken soup? Tea?” She shook her head. Like a priest administering last rites, I leaned in closer to listen to her deathly whisper. “Father?” “Yes, my child.” “Father?” “Yes, my child.” “Father, can I have some bread?” Every time I checked on her it was the same ritual, ending with “Can I have some more bread.” When my wife came home later she asked what our daughter had to eat. “Bread,” I said. “Bread? That’s all she had all day long.” “No,” I said. “What else did she have?” “Butter.”