Chocolate sourdough

People keep asking me for the recipe for my chocolate sourdough, so here it is.

Tools

  • A Dutch oven or other oven-safe covered pot
  • A big wide bowl
  • A medium bowl
  • A few small bowls for miscellaneous things
  • A spatula
  • A large cutting board
  • Kitchen scale
  • A large clean kitchen towel, not terrycloth
  • Some kind of rack for the bread to cool
  • (optional) A big plastic Tupperware type container
  • (optional) A bench scraper

Ingredients for the bread

  • 100g leaven (see below)
  • 400g all-purpose flour (bread flour is even better)
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 50g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 400g room temperature water
  • 125g chocolate baking chips (bittersweet, 66%, something like that )
  • 10g salt
  • Some more all-purpose flour for your hands, the board, and the towel

Ingredients for the leaven

  • An existing sourdough starter
  • 75g all purpose flour
  • 75g room temperature water

Instructions

  1. Make your leaven (8-12 hours resting).
    a. In a small bowl or plastic container, add the 75g of flour to the 75g of water and stir to combine them thoroughly.
    b. Then take a tablespoon of your existing starter and mix it in.
    c. Leave it on your counter, loosely covered, for 8 hours.
    d. To test that it’s ripe, drop a teaspoonful into a bowl of room temperature water.
    e. If it floats, proceed to step 2.
    f. If it doesn’t float, try again in a couple of hours.
  2. Make your dough (10 minutes active, 30-45 minutes inactive).
    a. In a big wide bowl, stir 100g of the leaven into the 400g room temperature water.
    b. In a separate bowl, mix the 400g all purpose flour, 100g whole wheat flour, and 50g cocoa powder.
    c. Add the flour-cocoa combo to the water, mixing with your hands as you go (this’ll be easier than doing it all at the end).
    d. Mix the dough with your hands until you can’t see any more dry flour or cocoa. It’ll take a while and be sticky. Resist the temptation to add more water—just keep working any flour and cocoa into the dough.
    e. When you’re done, add the chocolate chips and mix those into the dough.
    f. Let it rest for 30-45 minutes. Proceed to step 3.
  3. First rise (4-10 hours, see below for more details).
    a. After 30-45 minutes, sprinkle the salt on the dough and incorporate it with your hands.
    b. At this point, if you have a big plastic Tupperware, use the spatula to scrape the dough into that. Otherwise you can leave it in the bowl. In either case, cover it loosely.
    c. Let the dough double in size. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen this might take anywhere from 4 to 10 hours. In my kitchen, at 79 degrees F (26C) it takes four hours; at 68 degrees F (20C) it takes 8 hours.
    d. If you’re around during that time, folding the dough every hour or so helps to build internal structure. Using a wet hand, grab one corner of the dough and fold it over the middle, then repeat for the other four corners (I’m imagining that you are using a big square Tupperware).
    e. Once the dough’s doubled in size, proceed to step 4.
  4. Shaping the dough (1 hour, about half active).
    a. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour onto the cutting board and spread it around.
    b. Use the spatula to move the dough from its bowl or container onto the cutting board.
    c. Flour your hands and fold one half of the dough over the other. This will create a seam.
    d. Using your hands (and the bench scraper, if you have one), shape the dough into a round with the seam side down. Ideally, you want to sort of spin the dough on the cutting board while applying a little torque so that the surface builds up some tension and is smooth.
    e. Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. It’ll relax and spread out a bit.
    f. While it’s resting, lay the kitchen towel flat, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of flour all over it, and rub it in to the towel. This is so that the dough won’t stick to it.
    g. Place the towel in the medium bowl.
    h. After the dough has rested, place it on the towel inside the bowl, cover it with the rest of the towel, and stick it in the fridge. Move on to step 5.
  5. Second rise (8-24 hours).
    i. You can leave it in the fridge for as little as 8 and (in my experience) as long as 24 hours.
    j. When you are about hour away from baking, move on to step 6.
  6. Baking the bread (1.5 hours)
    a. Preheat the oven to 450F (232C) with your Dutch oven and lid inside. I find it easier to place the lid on the rack separately, because otherwise you have to remove the lid once it’s hot.
    b. When the oven has preheated, take your loaf out of the fridge, take it out of the bowl by picking up the towel, and put it on your counter. Open the towel.
    c. Using a sharp paring knife, score (cut) a large + shape into the top of the loaf. The cut should be about 1/4 inch deep.
    d. Take the Dutch oven out of the oven and place it on a trivet, potholder, etc next to the towel. Using both hands, pick up the loaf from the bottom and drop it into the Dutch oven (with the + still pointing up). Aim for the middle of the pot, but if the loaf touches one side that’s OK.
    e. Put the pot back in the oven, cover it with the lid, and set the timer to 25 minutes.
    f. After 25 minutes, take off the lid.
    g. Bake for another 15 minutes. (It can be hard to tell if the bread is done because it’s so dark, but trust your judgment.)
    h. Take the pot out of the oven and, using a spatula, wooden spoon, etc., lift the loaf out and place it on the cooling rack.
    i. Let it cool for at least an hour—two or more is best. Then proceed to step 7.
  7. Eat bread (instantaneous).