This carob and whole wheat bread is a delicious Greek traditional bread with a chocolaty flavor. Some added walnuts make it even healthier!
One could claim that carob is the “Mediterranean chocolate” because of its mildly sweet and chocolaty flavor. And you may not be able to make this extraordinary Pure chocolate mousse cake – torte with it but you can surely make a delicious bread! This carob and whole wheat flour bread with walnuts is more on the savory side, though it has a good amount of grape syrup added just to intensify its flavor. From what I’ve heard, carob was the thing that kept many Cretan people from starving during WWII and the occupation of Crete by the Nazis. Carob is a very nutritious food, rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. It has a sweet, chocolaty flavor but without any caffeine or theobromine (a substance toxic to some mammals, like dogs). It was widely used in Greece during periods of famine, but as with many foods that sustained the people at those times, it became somewhat unpopular when that period ended and was used as feed for the pigs. Fortunately, it has made a come-back in the recent years becoming more and more popular, mostly because of its health benefits and its pleasant taste.
Normally, when you bake bread, you want to use bread flour because of its high gluten content that results in a chewy, fluffy texture. So I tried this carob bread with a mix of whole wheat and bread flour, but to my astonishment, it’s much better with all-purpose flour instead of bread flour. And I can’t say if it’s the carob flour, the olive oil, the grape syrup, or the combination of the above, but this bread stays soft and pillowy for up to 4-5 days (or even more!) as long as you keep it well-sealed in a zip log bag. Moreover, it tastes even better after the first day, maybe because the chocolate flavor has some time to mature and develop.
The most important lesson I’ve learned from this carob and whole wheat bread is that scoring does not work with all bread (haha!) Most of the times, I don’t pay much attention to the appearance of my bread, since flavor is the one thing that concerns me the most, but also because most loaves are beautiful anyways, whatever their shape. In fact, the more imperfections and “hard” edges a bread has, the more beautiful it is to my eyes. The only exception I can think of is braided bread, in which symmetry is a factor we should take into consideration. Anyway, after kneading this bread, I let it puff up and when it was ready for the oven I scored it carefully with a sharpened knife and threw it in the hot oven waiting for the incision to expand and create the most amazing design… But nothing. Nada. Niente. Rien. It just puffed-up a little more but without any dramatic changes to the surface and intricate, fractal designs along the scoring! My guess is that carob flour has something to do with it since it makes this bread extra soft and pillowy. This is the reason I ended up with the slices you see in the pictures which resemble tiny black T-shirts! 🙂
What can you do with this carob bread?
Eat it plain for a healthy snack!
My favorite way to eat it is with a big piece of Greek Gruyere or cheddar cheese. But it is also great for sandwiches! And why not try it with this chicken sandwich with olive oil & balsamic sauce?
Slather on some soft butter and a good amount of strawberry or peach marmalade!
I am thinking of making French toast with it, but I hadn’t had the chance so far.
- This bread is even more delicious after the first day.
- Store it wrapped with cling film and inside a zip log bag, to keep it fresh for many days!
- If you don’t have grape syrup (petimezi) you can use maple syrup, molasses, honey or agave instead.
- Don’t get tempted to use bread flour. It is much better with all-purpose flour.
- Do you know you can make carob treats for your best friend? While chocolate contains levels of theobromine which is toxic to some animals, carob contains no theobromine and no caffeine, so it is used to make “chocolate” treats for dogs.
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (250 grams) whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cups (70 grams) carob powder/flour
- 1 envelope (8-9 grams / 1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons (5-8 grams) fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup grape syrup, or maple syrup/molasses/honey
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (you can increase this up to 2 cups)
- 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups (360 – 400 grams) warm water (the temperature of your body, not hot)
- One loaf pan approximately 10 x 4 inch (25cm x 11cm)
- Oil and flour or line with baking paper your baking pan.
- In a large mixing bowl mix 1/2 cup flour, the yeast, and 1 cup water and keep in a warm place until bubbly (this is to make sure that the yeast is active).
- Add the rest of the dry ingredients, the olive oil, the grape syrup, and 1/2 cup water and knead well by hand or using a mixer with the dough attachment. You may need to add some additional water.
When the dough is elastic and no longer sticky, cover with a wet towel and leave it in a warm place until doubled in volume (about 1-3 hours).
- Knead a little more, and flatten out the dough with your hands or with a rolling pin. Sprinkle with the nuts, roll and shape the bread into a loaf.
Transfer to the baking tin and let it rise until almost doubled in volume.
- When the bread is almost ready, preheat your oven to 356°F (180°C).
Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let on a rack to cool.
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