Dark Cherry Chia Boule

Happy International Women’s Day! You should probably sneak into the kitchen and make this awesome bread with dark cherries and chia seeds for the amazing woman of your choice. Seriously. Doesn’t even need to be someone you know. Just bake and deliver. Bread pretty much says, “You are awesome” all by itself.

I realize how fortunate I am to have been surrounded by incredible women throughout my life. There have so many I could not hope to list them all. There was Mrs. Montgomery, my 5th grade teacher who gave my creativity wings; Carlinda Ewing and Sarah Foster who have no idea how much their musical talent inspired me in high school; Rebecca Nielsen who showed my young heart how to be loving; My cousin Susan Hornbuckle who has been my hero twice; Juli Adams who speaks the language of my soul with her art; Rachael Peterson whose thirst for knowledge is unquenchable; Tedra Cobb who will be our next Congresswoman for NY21; Jennifer Erxleben, my girlfriend in the 6th grade who grew up to be a National Geographic Explorer; Cathy Kushner, friend and leadership mentor; Leigh Melander who inspires me as a mythmaker; Judy Beck, my other Jewish wife; Roz Zimmerman, painter, potter, singer, matriarch; Nada Oakley, who made me a better thinker; Dorie Schultz, who bolstered my faith as a young educator; Carol Bruchac, who taught me that a strong marriage can weather any storm; Martha Fleming, who lit the fuse that brought me to teaching; my Aunt Diane, a woman who lives her dreams; Rabbi Linda, scribal artist and amazing spiritual and community leader; and on and on…

Two women more than any have inspired me to be a better man – my Mom Betsy and my wife and best friend Becca. This website is the clearest testament to the gifts my Mom possessed. She demonstrated that it was okay to follow my dreams, gave me inspiration to have new adventures, and modeled a giving and nurturing heart. I miss her terribly at times, but I also know that who I am today is a clear extention of the woman she was. I carry her in my heart at all times.

My wife Becca is a rock star. She is an amazing teacher, artist, catalyst for change, community organizer, and she really should be recognized as an honorary Internet-trained doctor. Although I know sometimes she has doubts, she is a truly awesome mother, a richly giving friend, a magical and crazy aunt, and my favorite person in the world. When I first met Becca I never thought I’d live a day past 30 (I was living wrecklessly to say the least). But her love and guidance and support and encouragement gave me the conviction I needed to finish school, become an educator, strive to be the best father and husband I can be – in short, she has made my life worth living by lighting the path before me with her love. She has stood with me through my obliviousness, my addictions, my forgetfulness, my colossal mistakes. And for all of this – for these incredibly priceless gifts – I am thankful beyond measure.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Now, go bake this bread.

Dark Cherry Chia Boule

Happy International Women's Day! You should probably sneak into the kitchen and make this awesome bread with dark cherries and chia seeds for the amazing woman of your choice. Seriously. Doesn't even need to be someone you know. Just bake and deliver - no words necessary. Bread pretty much says, "You are awesome" all by itself.

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 1 round loaf
Author Mark Oppenneer


  • 1 scant tablespoon (or one ¼-ounce package) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup warm water about 110 degrees
  • cup warm water about 110 degrees
  • ¾ tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup dried dark cherries diced
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 4½-5½ cups unbleached flour


  1. Note: this recipe uses a bread cloche.
  2. In a small bowl, stir yeast and sugar into ¼ cup water to soften.
  3. Combine flour, salt, chia seeds and cherries in a large bowl.
  4. Add the yeast mixture and the rest of the water. Mix well adding more flour or water as necessary.
  5. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
  6. Dust the dough with flour and place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
  7. Punch the dough down, remove from the bowl, and knead it a few times. Let the dough rest on the counter for about 5 minutes and then shape into a ball.
  8. Place the dough in a well-floured proofing basket, cover with the cloche lid or tightly woven towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
  9. About 30 minutes before baking, place the cloche in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
  10. When ready to bake, sprinkle the cloche base with corn meal or semolina flour. Gently turn the dough onto the cloche base and score the top of the loaf in fancy patterns with a sharp knife.
  11. Cover the cloche base with the lid and place it in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 400 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  12. Remove the cloche lid for the last 5-10 minutes of baking. The internal temperature of the loaf should be about 190 degrees. Immediately remove bread from the cloche base and cool on a rack.

p.s. If there are any typos above, please let me know. Today is also National Proofreading Day.

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