Have you ever had Bishop’s Bread? If not, many recipes you’ll see online resemble the notorious fruit cake that Americans joke about as a “re-gifting” item. My Czech mother-in-law’s recipe does contain some lemon zest, but beyond that, it’s more of a chocolate chip and nut lover’s dream. This cake wonderfully combines bittersweet chocolate with hazelnuts (or walnuts or pecans), with the lemon zest adding just the right bit of pleasant zest for ultimate deliciousness. This sweet bread contains lots of beaten egg whites. Occasionally, I add some chopped candied orange peel to the batter, if I have some left over from making Marokánky cookies. If I do that, I reduce the chocolate and nut quantities slightly.
Baked goods made with lots of egg whites generally increase the shelf life significantly, but unlike typical American Fruit Cakes, this Bishop’s Bread usually doesn’t last long before being gobbled up. We usually make a double batch so that it does last for a little while. It’s very delicious freshly made, but seems to improve even more with age. It takes a while to get stale, but it even tastes great then.
My Czech mother-in-law made her Bishop’s Bread in a long loaf pan (see photo below), a bit longer and narrower than the standard American loaf pan. However, it can be made by dividing the batter between two of these standard American loaf pans, and perhaps baked for a shorter time. The Bishop’s Bread here is mean to be fairly thin, unlike the typical American banana bread.
Traditionally, many Bishop’s Breads were made in Rehruecken loaf pans (“Rehruecken” referring to deer), which are pans that resemble the rib cage of a deer. Since my husband and I make Bishop’s Bread every year, we bought these pans (pictured), which may be found at Bed Bath and Beyond or other specialty kitchenware shops. A nice feature of these pans is that the “ribs” mark a nice place to slice portions. Such pans could be used for any kind of sweet bread. My Rehruecken pans are fairly small (though bigger ones are available), so I need two when making the full recipe. Baking time may need to be reduced since they are shallower than the longer standard pan further above. Be sure to grease and flour these pans well, unless you find non-stick versions, which could simply be sprayed with cooking spray.
- 7 large egg whites, beaten until stiff peaks form
- 140 g (5 oz) granulated sugar
- 140 g (5 oz) coarse flour – hrubá mouka (OR, combination of 1/2 cup US all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs Wondra flour)*
- 125 g (4.5 oz) unsalted butter, melted
- 100 g (3.5 oz) bittersweet baking chocolate chips or chopped chocolate in chip size (my husband prefers chopped, which my mother-in-law used)
- 100 g (3.5 oz) nuts, chopped (raw or roasted filberts/hazelnuts are best, but walnuts or pecans are fine)**
- Lemon zest from one medium-sized lemon
Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Gradually mix in the sugar, on low speed, then alternately fold in the flour (or flours) and melted butter with a rubber spatula. Fold in the chopped or chips of chocolate, chopped nuts, and lemon zest.
Pour batter into a greased and floured long loaf pan (or two smaller loaf pans). Or use 2 regular loaf pans or Rehruecken loaf pans. [I also use parchment paper when using a loaf-style pan.] Bake for about 30 to 40 mins or more, depending on pan size or type. It is done when a toothpick comes out clean, and the top is golden brown in color.
*Coarse flour is readily available in many European countries. In Czech Republic, it is called “hrubá mouka”, which I find in a local Polish shop and Slovak online grocery store (see my post Finding Czech and Slovak Groceries in the US and UK). In the US, a 50-50 combination of regular unbleached all-purpose flour and Wondra flour (found in a blue canister) works fine. Any leftover Wondra flour is ideal for making American-style gravies (with no need to initially mix with water) or a variety of other Czech and other European recipes calling for coarse flour. See Czech Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary) Bread Dumplings – Karlovarský knedlík
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** Always taste test your nuts before using. Last year, I accidentally purchased rancid hazelnuts. It ruined my entire Bishop’s Bread. Bummer!