Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dark Chocolate Sourdough Bread

While I was in college in Eugene, a good friend who worked at a bakery would regularly give my roommates and me delicious day-old bread.  Every once in a while he would bring us this mysterious dark chocolate cherry sourdough bread.  I was very skeptical at first, thinking that mixing chocolate with bread was blasphemy on both ends. Finally I tried it and discovered it to be one of the best ways to eat chocolate. It's an incredible balance between solid chocolate and sweet cake. Immediately I was determined to recreate the bread in my kitchen. It was difficult to find a recipe with a sourdough starter, but I was finally able to take a solid recipe and tweak a few things.

Dark Chocolate Sourdough Bread
adapted from The Fresh Loaf

This recipe is wordy and fairly elaborate, but don't fret! I have compensated by adding lots of photos to demonstrate the process. Plan on spending a casual Sunday around the house, tending to the bread from time to time. Just remember to make the sourdough starter, if you don't already have some, the night before. It is definitely time consuming, but satisfying and fun. If you're intimidated by bread-making, then it's a great excuse to invite one of your bread-savvy friends over to help.

One more note: You can make the bread in free-form (the main picture) or in a loaf pan. I actually found that the bread was more moist and softer in texture in the loaf pan. I don't have pictures of that loaf because we gobbled it up almost immediately. You can also do what I did, which was make a couple of the loaves free-form and one in the loaf pan. Experiment.

Dark Chocolate Sourdough Bread
makes three loaves

5 cups bread flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast 
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup bubbly sourdough starter
2 1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, softened
6 oz chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

3 tbsp butter, melted
water for steaming in the oven

Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. Sift flour, cocoa, and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Add yeast water and the starter. Mix until a sticky dough forms. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add the butter and salt, knead for about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and shiny. This part is tricky because the dough pretty much rejects the butter. It helps to knead it on a well-floured surface. The dough should become very soft. Place on the counter with a light dusting of flour and fold in the chocolate.

Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Butter one or two baking sheets for free-form loaves or butter three loaf pans.  Punch down the dough, releasing any air bubbles that might have formed. Cut dough into three equal pieces. Let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Roll and form each piece of dough into a tight ball. If making them in the loaf pan, gently elongate the dough and place in the pan. For free-form, place the loaves on the baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches of room between each loaf.  Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°.  Boil about about a cup of water. With a very sharp knife, gently make two or three slits, about a 1/2 inch deep, into the free-form loaves (skip this step for the dough in the loaf pan). Brush the loaves with melted butter. Place the boiling water in a deep oven-proof dish (not glass). Place the dish on the bottom of the oven rack.

Put the loaves in the oven, reduce temperature to 350° and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the loaves have a slightly hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

Remove the loaves from the baking sheets and/or loaf pans and place on cooling rack. Let them rest for at least 45 minutes before slicing.

Give one or two loaves to friends if you don't think you can control yourself. Otherwise, store in a sealed bag and toast slices of the bread with butter when it becomes stale.

Oh man. Chocolate Bread Pudding anyone? 


  1. you can't control yourself. you should probably send some to me cause i need a piece of that stat.

  2. You have done it again. I can't believe you recreated the chocolate cherry bread from ECB! Well done.

  3. Holy crap. This sounds amazing. Do you have a recipe for regular sourdough as well?? I've got a starter in my fridge that I haven't had the courage to use yet....