<p>Cocoa powder and sour cherries lend decadence to this rustic bread while Diced Dried Plums provide subtle sweetness. The bread complements a wide number of cheeses, including cream cheeses, chèvre, Gruyère, and pecorino. Because this bread dough incorporates a pre-fermented sponge, make the sponge a day ahead and refrigerate it overnight for best results.</p>
<p>Cocoa powder and sour cherries lend decadence to this rustic bread while Diced Dried Plums provide subtle sweetness. The bread complements a wide number of cheeses, including cream cheeses, chèvre, Gruyère, and pecorino. Because this bread dough incorporates a pre-fermented sponge, make the sponge a day ahead and refrigerate it overnight for best results.</p>
Ingredients

Sponge

    300 g / 2 cups bread flour
    15 g / 1/3 cup unprocessed wheat bran
    425 g / 1 3/4 ounces water
    4 g / 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Dough

    310 g / 2 1/4 cups bread flour
    25 g / 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    4 g / 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
    70 g / 3 1/2 tablespoons honey
    12 g / 1 tablespoon salt
    200 g / 1 1/2 cups Diced Dried Plums
    130 g / 1 cup dried sour cherries

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Instructions

    To make the sponge: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, bran, water, and yeast. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate overnight.

    Bring the sponge to room temperature at least 1 hour before proceeding to the next step. Alternatively, leave it at room temperature for at least 2 hours or as long as 6 hours before proceeding to the next step.

    To make the dough: In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and yeast. Add the honey and sponge and mix until a coarse dough forms. Let rest for 20 minutes.

    Add the salt and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Add the plums and cherries and mix on low speed until the fruit is evenly distributed, about 2 minutes.

    Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a lid, and let  rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

    To shape the loaves: Dust a work surface lightly with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and halve it. For each half, place the cut sides of the dough facing down. Cup both hands around the dough and rotate clockwise, tucking the edges under with the sides of your palm until the dough forms into a ball. Dust the tops generously with flour and cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rest until the rounds have risen enough to barely spring back to the touch, about 1 hour.

    About 30 minutes before baking, place a baking stone on the bottom rung of an oven and preheat the oven to 500F. Right before baking, mist the sides of the oven with water.

    Uncover the dough. With a razor or sharp paring knife, make one long cut about 1/2-inch deep down the center of each round and 2 to 3 small slashes on each side of the cut.

    With a floured baking peel, slide the loaves onto the baking stone and bake for 5 minutes. Lower the oven to 350F and bake until the crust takes on a deep brown color and feels firm and crisp to the touch, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

     

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