Dark Chocolate Sourdough Boule

As much as I love my desserts, I’m not a fan of overly sweet foods. I like bitter flavors like extreme dark chocolate, walnuts, and espresso. A dessert for me isn’t complete without a cup of strong black coffee. So when I tried to incorporate chocolate into a loaf of bread, I also wanted to take care not to turn it into cake.

This works for me.

My first attempt at this recipe came out a little too far down the spectrum of sweet to bitter, and reminded me of a time when I was a child and thought to try a spoonful of plain cocoa powder. That was my first lesson in balancing flavors as well as what cocoa really tasted like. In my second attempt at chocolate sourdough I added a small amount of brown sugar to the dough, and for me it was just enough to balance out the bitterness while still keeping the chocolate flavor strong. Feel free to play with the amount of sugar if you don’t like your chocolate quite as dark, but keep in mind it’ll make your yeast really happy.

The addition of cocoa powder makes this dough more dense, so the high hydration is necessary if you’re working by hand. You may also add more water to make the dough easier to work with.

I folded in chocolate chips, but adding nuts or dried fruits would also taste good.

These loaves finally have the high, rounded shape I wanted. I definitely need to play with lower hydration doughs for a while until I get the hang of shaping. And I got a good ear on one of them!

Bad news: I still have an abundance of bread a few days later. Good news: I have an excuse to make chocolate bread pudding at a later date.

This is made using almost the same recipe as my Whole Wheat Sesame Sourdough.

Dark Chocolate Sourdough Boule
Adapted from Tartine
Makes 2 loaves

For the Levain:
200g flour
200g water
Tablespoon of starter

Combine these in a bowl and discard your remaining starter. Cover and leave overnight.

For the Dough:
200g Levain (the rest becomes your starter)
700 g water
500g whole wheat flour
500g white flour
100g cocoa powder

Combine the levain and water in a large (preferably clear glass) mixing bowl. Stir until the levain is dispersed. Add the flours and cocoa, and combine until no dry flour remains. You may add more water as necessary, but do so in small amounts only. Let this dough sit, covered, for 30 minutes.

After the autolyse:
50g water
20g salt
50g brown sugar

Mix these two in a separate bowl. Don’t worry if the salt doesn’t dissolve completely. Add to your dough and fold to combine. You’ll notice the dough start to come apart and then come back together as the salt is incorporated.

Finally, add:
100g chocolate chips

Fold in the chocolate chips as you do your stretch & folds during the bulk ferment.

At the end of your bulk ferment, turn out the dough to a floured work surface and divide into two even pieces. Shape each piece into a round loaf and let sit, covered with a towel, on the work surface for 30 minutes. Uncover and give each round a final shaping by taking each edge and folding over like an envelope, similar to your stretch & folds during the bulk ferments.

Prepare either two proofing baskets or smaller mixing bowls lined with kitchen towels by dusting them with rice flour. This keeps your dough from sticking to the bowls and saves so much trouble when it comes to putting them in the oven. Transfer each round (gently!) into the bowls, cover, and let sit for 3-4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake, put your dutch oven or combo cooker in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees F. Once preheated, take out the pot and turn out one of the loaves into it. This next step should be done quickly. Spray water over the surface of the dough and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top to cover. Using a lame or sharp knife, make a few cuts or score a pattern into the top of the loaf.

Immediately drop the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid (but keep it in the oven) and bake the loaf for another 20 minutes. Remove the finished loaf from the pot immediately (careful not to burn yourself), return the pot to the oven, and set the temperature back to 500 degrees. Repeat this process with the second loaf.

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