Trying to make Cherry Choc. Espresso SD bread
I've been trying to make the Cherry Chocolate Espresso Sourdough Bread since I first saw it posted by abbygirl here:
However, every time I make it, it's very dry throughout, and the crust is hard. I'm not doing it exactly like she posted. I'm leaving out the dark chocolate covered cranberries, adding in more cherries and chocolate chips in their place. I'm certain that can't be making a huge difference. Also, the dried cherries are obviously soaking up some of the water, because they become wet and soft, and remain that way for days after baking, even while the bread is getting dryer and going stale.
The first time I made it, I wasn't really prepared with all of my ingredients before I began, and ended up making several mistakes. That bread was eaten while still warm from the oven, so the inside was warm and moist, but the crust was dry. The second time, I made sure I had all the ingredients ready, but it turned out dry throughout. Both of those tries, I had left out the espresso powder and used strong brewed coffee in place of the water. So, on the third attempt, I got some espresso powder and tried it that way. I also autolysed the flour and water for two hours before adding the other ingredients. Also, on the second and third tries, I mixed everything except the cherries and choc chips, then folded those in during the S&F's. Still, it turned out dry, except for the cherries which were soggy wet.
Help me out here. What can I do differently? I found this link for a fruit and nut bread on the Wild Yeast Blog, in the recipe index. I noticed that the fruit and nuts were soaked before adding to the dough AND the dough is pretty wet, nearly 75% hydration! I was wondering if I need to raise the hydration and/or pre-soak the cherries, or if there is something else.