It’s a rare person who will tell you that they actually look forward to having fruitcake whenever the Yuletide Season comes looming near. Well, at least in this part of the world. I read somewhere that the British are mad for fruitcake, plum pudding, and black bun which is a cross between the two whenever the Holidays roll around. But that’s them and the rest of us strive for things that are a little less boozy but are nevertheless festive.
This is the reason why I decided to play around with things in the kitchen earlier today. I meant to make a plain pane al cioccolato for an afternoon snack, then remembered that I recently bought a pack of flaked almonds, a bottle of almond extract, and a bag of cherry-flavored dried cranberries. I figured I’d give an old standby a more festive twist, so I added a teaspoon of almond extract to the liquid ingredients and tossed in some almonds for a toasty crunch and some berries for a slightly tart contrast to the rich sweetness of the chocolate.
I am pleased to say that the end result beats conventional Black Forest cakes hollow.
Black Forest Bun
- 350 grams all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 1 sachet fast-acting yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 150mL water
- 1 teaspoon almond extract or Amaretto liqueur
- 1/4 cup flaked almonds
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup cherry-flavored dried cranberries or dried cherries
- melted butter for brushing
In a large mixing bowl, combine cocoa powder, flour, yeast, almonds, salt, sugar, and 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips; set aside. Place the water, oil, and almond extract in a heatproof bowl and microwave at HIGH for a minute and thirty seconds. Pour the heated liquids into the dry ingredients and mix until a shaggy mess of dough is formed. Flour your hands well (the dough will be very sticky) and knead the dough for about twelve minutes. Form into a ball and cover with a clean dishcloth. Place in a warm, draft-free area and allow to rise for an hour.
After an hour, punch down the dough and knead in the remaining chocolate chips and the dried cranberries. Grease and 8-inch round cake tin and press the dough evenly in it. Cover with a dishcloth and leave to prove for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees / Gas Mark 7.
Bake the proven dough for ten minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 5. Bake an additional 25 minutes.
Remove the loaf from the oven and allow to cool for about five minutes in the pan. Brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter and remove from the pan; cool completely before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.