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Rich with chocolate chips, a quick bread rises high
Lisa Yockelson, Special to the Washington Post.
In a sort of baking ballet that shifts chocolate chips from the typical spoonable cookie dough or creamy cake batter to a hand-formed dough, a gem of a quick bread gets pulled from the oven.
The tea loaf is round and golden, with a rough-hewn surface that’s a little pebbly, concealing a lightly sweetened, tender crumb simply loaded with chocolate chips. It might be unlike any traditional loaf you’ve made in a 9-by-5-inch pan.
The bread’s method follows the procedure for a rich biscuit, and its goodness will win you praise for your baking expertise even if you are an occasional baker.
Essentially, a leavened flour mixture is flecked with bits of butter throughout and moistened with a whisked mixture (of buttermilk, a whole egg and vanilla extract): the bowlful, along with the chips dumped over, is mixed together and formed into a plump ball. With the ball settled on a baking sheet, the top surface is slashed, so that it forms big petals upon rising, and sprinkled with sugar, for a soft sparkle, before sliding onto the oven rack. As the loaf expands, the dough blossoms and the smell of butter-chocolate-vanilla takes over. Aromatherapy, indeed.
If you are a baked-goods-bearing guest, deliver this big, round loaf under wrap and ribbon. Otherwise, enjoy it sliced, buttered or not, along with your favorite steamy beverage poured into a pretty cup. Then admire your handiwork.
Rustic Chocolate Chip Tea Bread
12 servings (makes one 8-inch round loaf)
Though it’s irresistible, you should wait for the loaf to cool before slicing.
MAKE AHEAD: The bread can be made 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
From cookbook author Lisa Yockelson.
3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt
1/3 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into teaspoon-size chunks
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons, if needed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large (13 by 18 inches) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and 1/3 cup of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Drop in the chunks of butter; use a pastry blender or two round-edged table knives to cut the fat into pea-size bits. Use your fingertips to randomly reduce the pea-size bits to smaller flakes; this should take about 1 minute.
Whisk together the egg, the 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a small mixing bowl. Pour that mixture over the flour mixture, sprinkle with the chocolate chips and use a wooden spoon or paddle to stir, forming a rough, cohesive, slightly sticky dough. If the dough seems a little dry (this may depend on atmospheric conditions or the age/absorption quality of the flour), drizzle it with an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk. Gather the dough into a rough mass with your hands, then knead lightly until it comes together completely, using firm strokes to gather it all cohesively. Form the dough into a 5 1/2-to-6-inch ball.
Place the ball of dough at the center of baking sheet. Use a sharp paring knife to score an 1/8-inch-deep cross in the top of the ball of dough, then sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the loaf is set, golden on top and baked through. It should sound hollow when you lightly tap the top or bottom with a wooden spoon.
Cool (on the baking sheet) on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Slip a metal spatula under the loaf and transfer it to a separate rack to cool completely. The bread may be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 day.
Use a serrated knife to cut slices or wedges.
Nutrition 5/8 Per serving: 390 calories, 5 g protein, 51 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 25 g sugar