So this is a recipe I have had in my box for more than a year now, but only just locked down the formula to my satisfaction. Last winter I sent an early version of it to my friend Becky Krystal (Washington Post’s baking maven), who loved it and has been baking it on and off ever since. While I let the recipe languish, she kept the torch alive all that time, and inspired me to finally sew it up.
Because of all the cocoa powder (9%) and rye (10%), the crumb had a tendency to be a little too tight for me, so I kept inching up on the water. The last version that I tested (pictured above) was at 90% hydration. Because Becky was going to make it again this past weekend, I asked her to test what I figured would be the final version, at 95% hydration, and she was very happy with it. She sent a photo of the internal crumb, which is exactly how I hoped it would look:
While this is definitely a decadent loaf, it is overall less sweet than you’d expect—it rides the edge of the sweet/savory line, with the slight tang of the sourdough and the bitterness of the cocoa balancing out the sugar from the honey and chocolate.
Chocolate-Sour Cherry-Cardamom Sourdough
Makes one 900g loaf
Any type of rye flour will work here, as will gluten-forming whole-grain flours like wheat or spelt.
If using high-extraction flour, increase the hydration to 103% (i.e., add 20g more water in step 2.)
Since the initial proof takes about 12 hours, the best approach is to start the dough in the evening, shape the bread in the morning, and bake the loaf late in the day or the following morning.
In step 1, use levain that has been recently refreshed and refrigerated; the recipe should work with older levain, but it might take longer to proof in step 8.
Because the recipe uses such a small amount of levain, its hydration doesn’t really matter.
If your kitchen is cold (below 70˚F), you can increase the amount of levain in step 1 to 10% (50g); in the heat of summer, reduce it to as little as 1% (5g).
The loaf can be refrigerated in step eight for 8 to 24 hours, depending upon whatever timing is most convenient for your schedule (it will get more slightly more sour the longer it proofs).
The lower-than-normal oven temperatures in step 9 & 12 are deliberate, in order to prevent burning.
Because the loaf is so dark in color, it can be a challenge to know when it is “browned” and crisp, so use the internal temperature as a marker here.
The cherries and chocolate on the exterior of the loaf can get very dark or even burn; they can be removed after baking if desired.
90% bread flour
10% rye flour
9% cocoa powder
1.25% ground cardamom
30% chocolate chips or chunks
20% dried, sweetened sour cherries
35g rye flour
4g (1 1/4 teaspoons) ground cardamom
100g boiling water
210g cool (70-73˚F) water
300g bread flour
30g cocoa powder
8g (1 1/4 teaspoons sea) salt
100g chocolate chips or chunks
70g sour cherries
Combine the rye flour and cardamom in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and stir with a dough whisk or spatula until uniform. Cover loosely and let sit for 20 minutes.
Transfer about 10 grams (~2 teaspoons) of the water to a small bowl and set aside. Add the remaining water, honey, and levain to the rye scald and whisk until uniform. Add the flour and cocoa powder and stir with a dough whisk or wooden spoon until uniform and no dry flour remains. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle the salt and reserved water over the dough and knead gently in the bowl until the dough is combined. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Add the chocolate chips and cherries and knead gently in the bowl until the dough is evenly mixed.
Desired dough temperature: 70-75˚F.
Bulk Fermentation: 11-13 hours at 75˚F, until the dough is domed, lightly bubbly, and increased in volume by about 50%. A peek at the underside of the dough along the edges of the bowl should also show a web of fine bubbles. (Try not to overproof here—shape the loaf as soon as this stage has arrived if possible. That said, there is probably a 1-2 hour window before it’s too late, at least when ambient temps are below 77˚F.)
Dust top of the dough lightly with flour and invert onto a lightly-floured countertop. Preshape into a round and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Shape the loaf and transfer to a floured banneton or lined basket. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours.
One hour before baking, adjust an oven rack to the middle position, set a covered heavy-bottomed Dutch oven on the rack, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Lay a 12- by 6-inch sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Remove the loaf from the fridge, dust the bottom of the loaf with flour, and invert onto the center of the parchment paper.
Carefully remove the Dutch oven from oven, place on the stovetop, and set the lid aside. Score the loaf as desired, then, using the parchment as a sling, carefully lower it into the Dutch oven. Carefully cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees, and continue to bake until the crust is crisp and a thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads at least 195˚F, 15 to 20 minutes longer.
Transfer the loaf to cooling rack and allow to cool for at least three hours before serving.
I have been waiting for this one. Will be an after Christmas project. Thanks Andrew.
I love this bread! I have to admit, at first while I was considering making this bread I didn't think I'd like sweet dessert-type, chocolaty ingredients in a sourdough loaf. It just didn't seem right. But because I like to try new food I made it. Oh, was I glad that I made this! I do plan to cut back on the cardamom just a tad next time for my liking but that is only my preference and the recipe as-is tastes wonderful. ... Andrew, now you have me wondering what a pumpkin spice sourdough bread will taste like? I'd experiment but if you've already created the recipe please let me know! My concern is how to incorporate pumpkin puree into the dough ingredients and would any of the pumpkin spice kill the natural yeast. Thank you for sharing your recipes!