Chocolate Cherry Sourdough
This sourdough loaf is a delightfully indulgent treat, loaded with chunks of dark chocolate and dried cherries. While it blurs the line between bread and dessert, eating this bread for breakfast is just as acceptable as after dinner.
We used a sweet levain for this dough to minimize sourness and let the flavor of the chocolate and cherries shine through. Often used in enriched sourdoughs and pastry, a sweet levain produces bread with a less sour taste because sugar limits bacterial activity in the levain. Therefore, less acid is carried over into the final loaf. (This loaf will turn out beautifully if you use a regular levain instead of a sweet.)
We took inspiration from our friend Maurizio Leo of The Perfect Loaf and bloomed the cocoa powder in warm oil before incorporating it into the dough. Just as when cooking with spices, this helps to intensify the flavor and give the dough a rich chocolate flavor.
Brød & Taylor Equipment:
High Capacity Baking Scale
Folding Proofer & Slow Cooker
- 8g (about 2 tsp) Starter
- 8g (2 tsp) Granulated sugar
- 40g (about 3 tbsp) Water
- 40g (⅓ cup) All-purpose flour
- 240g (2 cups) All-purpose flour
- 120g (1 cup) Bread Flour
- 244g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) Water
- 20g (¼ cup) Cocoa powder
- 19g (1 tbsp + 1 tsp) Neutral flavored oil
- 96g (all) Levain
- 42g (3 tbsp) Water
- 16g (1 tbsp + 1 tsp) Sugar
- 8g (1 ½ tsp) Salt
- 100g (½ cup) Chocolate chunks or chips
- 84g (½ cup) Dried cherries
- Set up the proofer: Set the Sourdough Home or Proofer to 75°F (24°C).
- Mix the sweet starter: In a bowl or jar, mix the levain ingredients until thoroughly combined. Place in then Sourdough Home or Proofer for about 10 to 12 hours. The levain will be ready when it has noticeably increased in volume (about three times in size), is full of bubbles, and has a faint sour aroma.
- Autolyse: Combine both flours and the water and mix until no dry flour remains. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. While autolyse is resting, bloom the cocoa in oil for final dough.
- Bloom the cocoa: In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil until warm. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Mix the dough: To the autolyzed dough, add the levain, sugar, salt, and the half remaining (42g) water. Mix ingredients together by hand until well incorporated. If the dough feels very wet, do not add the remaining water. Otherwise, go ahead and add it. (The dough will stiffen up some once the cocoa and oil are incorporated.) Turn the dough out onto the counter and slap and fold (or knead in the bowl if preferred) for 5 minutes. Place the dough back into the bowl and add the cocoa oil mixture. Knead in the cocoa mixture until no streaks remain. (Optionally, you may incorporate the cocoa less, leaving some streaks remaining. This will give your loaf a marbled appearance.)
- Bulk ferment: Bulk fermentation will take about 4 to 5 hours total. During the first 2 hours of bulk fermentation, folds will be performed and the chocolate and cherries will be added. Set the Proofer to 79°F (26°C) and put the water tray in the middle of the warming plate. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) of water into the tray and place the rack on top of the tray. Place the bowl of dough in the Proofer. After the first 30 minutes of proofing, remove the bowl from the proofer, sprinkle half of the chocolate and cherries on top, perform the first set of stretch and folds, and then sprinkle the remaining chocolate and cherries on top using your fingers to press gently into the dough. Perform two more sets of stretch and fold at 30 minute intervals. Let the dough rest for the remainder of the bulk fermentation period. At the end of bulk fermentation, the dough will have increased in volume by 1 ½ times its original size and should feel puffy to the touch. If the dough still feels dense, allow it to rise a little longer.
- Shape the dough: Rather than flouring the counter when shaping this loaf, we recommend using a light misting of water to prevent the dough from sticking. Because the dough is dark, we found a dusting of flour could work into the dough and become visible in the final loaf. To shape into a batard: Turn the dough out onto a counter gently press it out into a rectangle, working carefully so that you don’t pop the bubbles in the dough. With the long side of the rectangle facing you, grab the left side of the dough and fold it in toward the center. Repeat with the right side. Grab the top edge of the dough and gently roll it towards you, gently pushing away as you roll to build some outer tension. When you have reached the bottom edge, pinch the seam of the cylinder together and place the dough seam side up in a 10" or 11" oval banneton. (This loaf may also be shaped into a round if desired.)
- Final proof: Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. This loaf can also baked the same day. Instead of refrigerating, place the banneton in the Folding Proofer set to 79°F (26°C) and allow it to rise for 2 to 3 hours.
- Bake: The next day, place a Dutch oven inside the oven and preheat to 450°F (232°C) for about 30 to 40 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper and score the dough. Remove the Dutch oven, use the parchment paper to transfer the dough into the Dutch oven, cover with the lid, and place back into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, lower the temperature to 425°F (218°C) and continue baking for another 18 to 20 minutes with the lid off. Remove the loaf from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
Leave a comment
Any suggestions for how to make this without a sourdough starter?
This recipe looks so good and I might have to make it on my next day off. A question I had was, do I use fed or unfed sour dough starter? Thanks.
Kayla – We haven’t tried it, but our best recommendation would be to replace the levain with a combination of flour, water and yeast. To do so: 1) skip the step of making the sweet levain 2) when doing the autolyse, use 168g (about 1⅓ C) of bread flour (rather than 120g) and use 292g (about 1¼ C) water (rather than 244g) 3) use 6g (2 tsp) of instant yeast in the final dough 4) the bulk fermentation (first rise) will take much less time. Maybe 2 hours? You can still perform the folds. Just have them closer together- maybe 15 minutes rather than 30. 5) After shaping, follow the recipe for the final proof. If you decide to bake the same day, your loaf won’t need as long to rise as the recipe states.
Steven – We recommend using starter that is at or near peak to get the best results. Our starter was fed about 8 hour prior to using it to make the sweet levain because that is when it was ripe. Your timeline may vary depending one your starter. As long as your starter is in a healthy state, it should be good to use.