Many holiday seasons I make a few dozen of these loaves and give them to family and friends. Toast thick slices and slather with warm butter for breakfast. IF there is any left, use it to make and extra-rich bread pudding. Don’t worry about counting calories when eating this luxurious bread!
The following recipe makes 2 loaves
2 C warm water
1 T yeast
2 T sugar
2 tsp salt
8 T unsalted butter, melted
6 C white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
8 oz canned cherries (*this is not pie filling), drained
2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1. Mix the water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl. Allow the yeast to bloom for about 10 minutes before wisking in the salt and melted butter. Slowly stir in 5 cups of the flour-one cup at a time with a rubber scraper-until it is all incorporated. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and bounces back when pushed by your finger. (At this time the gluten is developed enough and the dough should not stick to your hand or kneading surface). Put the dough back in the bowl and let rise for one hour.
2. Divide the dough in two pieces and add half the cherries and chocolate chips to each one. You will need to add in the remaining 1 cup flour (1/2 cup to each loaf) since the mix gets sloppy. Knead well. Shape the dough into round balls. Line a baking sheet with parchment or Silpat. Place the 2 dough balls evenly spaced on baking sheet. Dust heavily with flour and using a sharp chef’s knife, score diagonal lines across the top to form diamond shapes. Let the dough rise for 1 more hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with a ban marie on the lowest rack. Bake the bread on the center rack for 25 minutes, then remove from oven and transfer to a wire cookie rack to cool.