Along with an entree at this popular steakhouse chain, comes a freshly baked loaf of this dark, sweet bread, served on it’s own cutting board with soft whipped butter. One distinctive feature of the bread is its color. How does the bread get so dark?
While you may notice the recipe includes instant coffee and cocoa, these ingredients will not give it it’s deep dark chocolate brown color – not even close. Usually breads that are this dark — such as pumpernickel or dark bran muffins — contain caramel color, an ingredient often used in the industry to darken foods.
Since your local supermarket will not likely have this mostly commercial product, we will make the caramel color from a mixture of three food colorings — red, yellow and blue. Just be sure to get the food coloring in the little droppers so that you can count the drops as you measure. That’s very important to getting the color just right. You may also opt to keep the color out. The bread will certainly taste the same, but will look nothing like the real deal. I suggest using a bread machine for the mixing and kneading, if you have one.
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
2 cups bread flour
1 2/3 cups wheat flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 pkg.) yeast
1/4 cup water
75 drops red food coloring
45 drops blue food coloring
30 drops yellow food coloring
cornmeal for dusting
1. If using a bread machine, add all of the ingredients for the dough in the exact order listed into the pan of your machine. Set it on “knead” and when the machine begins to mix the dough, combine the food coloring with 1/4 cup of water and drizzle it into the mixture as it combines. After the dough is created let it rest to rise for an hour or so. Then remove it from the pan and go to step #3.
2. If you are not using a bread machine, combine the flours, cocoa, sugar, coffee and salt in large bowl. Make a depression or “well” in the middle of the dry mixture. Pour the warm water into this “well,” then add the butter, honey and yeast. Combine the food coloring drops with 1/4 cup of water and add that to the “well. ” Slowly mix the ingredients with a spoon, drawing the dry ingredients into the wet. When you can handle the dough, begin to combine it by hand, kneading the dough thoroughly for at least ten minutes, until it is very smooth and has a consistent color. Set the dough into a covered bowl in a warm place for an hour, to allow it to rise.
3. When the dough has risen to about double in size, punch it down and divide it into 8 even portions (divide dough in half, divide those halves in half, and then once more). Form the portions into tubular shaped loaves about 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. Sprinkle the entire surface of the loaves with cornmeal and place them on a cookie sheet, or two. Cover the cookie sheet(s) with plastic wrap and let the dough rise once more for another hour in a warm location.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the dough and bake it for 20-24 minutes in the hot oven. Loaves should begin to darken slightly on top when done. Serve warm with a sharp bread knife and butter on the side. If you want whipped butter, like you get at the restaurant, just use an electric mixer on high speed to whip some butter until it’s fluffy. Makes 8 small loaves.
It is normal for this dough to be a bit tacky and to seem somewhat thin. Just be sure to add plenty of flour to your hands and work surface when working with the dough to prevent sticking. If you are able to find caramel color, you can use that rather than the food coloring formula described in the recipe. Just measure 1 tablespoon of caramel color into the dough mixture where the recipe uses food coloring and water.