sourdough noir

sourdough noir | theclevercarrot.com

Allow me to embarrass myself:

When I can’t sleep at night, I think about food.

I analyze recipes. I scrutinize them. I think about ingredients and techniques and plan out what I’m going to make in the morningFor whatever reason, I find comfort in this soothing mechanism because it tires out my mind. And I enjoy it.

This isn’t  something new- it all stared when my youngest son was born. He had severe colic and screamed his head off from 6am- 6pm for six weeks straight. It was mental torture. There was no sleeping, no showering, no putting him down. I thought about food to stay sane. It distracted me. During this time I taught myself the metric system, demystified sourdough, scribbled recipe ideas on the back of junk mail, and dreamed of an heirloom garden. Was I going mad? Probably. But in retrospect, this otherwise noisy difficult time in my life turned out to be surprisingly productive.

Three years later…

I exhibit the same behavior.

This recipe was born in the wee hours of the morning after my cat woke me up. I let him outside, and made a pit stop in the kitchen to feed my sourdough starter before returning to bed. I would bake in the morning.

This is sourdough noir.

sourdough noir | theclevercarrot.comsourdough noir | theclevercarrot.com

Bread… with dark chocolate.

sourdough noir | theclevercarrot.com

To begin, I added cocoa powder to my already existing recipe for country sourdough.

It took me 3 tries to get it right:

Round #1: Plain

This was the most basic (and boring) trial of the whole lot. Just plain chocolate sourdough with nothing in it. Although the texture was nice it didn’t really taste like chocolate. Fail.

Round #2: Chopped Chocolate Chunks

To elevate that chocolate-y flavor, I added chunks of good quality bar chocolate to the dough. Sounds like a good idea, right? Nope. It melted into the dough. Unlike chocolate chips from the bag, most bar chocolates do not have stabilizers to keep them from melting. That’s why the chocolate doesn’t melt in your cookies. Mental note for round 3.

Round #3: Chocolate Chips, Dried Fruit + Nuts

Score! The addition of chocolate chips meant chocolate in every bite while the dried fruit and nuts made it texturally interesting, at least to me anyway. I used a combination of raisins and walnuts.

sourdough noir | theclevercarrot.com

The Geeky Stuff:

  • My sourdough starter is 50/50 whole wheat + bread flour (fed at 100% hydration)
  • 1 hour autolyse
  • Salt and fillings added after autolyse
  • Stretch and fold every 30 minutes for 2 hours
  • Bulk ferment at room temperature (currently 65 F) overnight, about 12-18 hours
  • 2nd proof = approximately 45 minutes- 1 hour
  • Bake in Dutch oven at 400 F for 20 minutes (covered) + 40 minutes (uncovered)
  • Crack open the oven door during the last 10 minutes of baking to harden the crust

For my bread posts, I always like to include this in-depth beginner’s guide to sourdough for your reference.

sourdough noir | theclevercarrot.comsourdough noir | theclevercarrot.com

This chocolate sourdough is light and chewy with a soft crust. It is not sweet, just rich with chocolate flavor and a hint of crunch from the fillings. Try it cut into thick slices plain, or with a pat of creamy butter. I like it for breakfast with a dusting of powdered sugar over the top.

Tips:

  • You will need a heavy bottom pot or Dutch Oven for baking.
  • This bread is best if consumed within the first 1-2 days. 
  • To freeze, wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil. It should last up to 3 months.
  • All ingredients are weighed using a digital kitchen scale for best results.
sourdough noir
 
Author:
Serves: 1 or 2 loaves
Ingredients
  • 150g active fed starter
  • 350g water, preferably filtered
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • 500g bread flour
  • 50g cocoa powder*
  • 8g fine sea salt
  • 65g chopped walnuts
  • 65g raisins
  • 150g semi sweet chocolate chips
  • fine ground cornmeal, for dusting
  • powdered sugar for decoration
* I used Hershey's Special Dark, a blend of natural and Dutch process cocoas
** You will need 1 or 2 Dutch ovens for baking
Instructions
  1. Make the dough: In a large bowl combine the starter, water, sugar and vanilla. Stir with a fork. Sift the bread flour and cocoa powder together and then add to the bowl. Squish everything together with your hands until all of the flour is absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest (autolyse) for 1 hour.
  2. To the dough: Add the salt, walnuts, raisins and chocolate chips. Lift and fold the dough over itself several times and squish with your hands to incorporate. The dough will tear slightly as you fold and the salt will not fully dissolve. Don't worry- this is normal. Work the dough as best you can until it comes back together into a rough ball.
  3. Bulk fermentation: Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Leave it in a warm, sunny spot to rise. Your dough is ready when it no longer looks dense and has increased in volume about 1½- 2x its original size. This can take anywhere from 3-12 hours depending on the temperature of your ingredients, the potency of your starter and surrounding environment. *See note below.
  4. Stretch & fold: To strengthen your dough, do a series of stretch and folds every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours of bulk fermentation. Simply gather a portion of the dough, stretch it upwards and then fold it over itself. Rotate the bowl ¼ turn and repeat until you have come full circle. You will have completed 4 folds. Try to keep the fillings tucked into the dough and not on the outside. This will prevent burning when baked.
  5. Shape the dough: To cut and shape the dough, divide your work surface in half; lightly flour one side (for cutting) and leave the other half clean (for shaping).
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto the floured section. You do not need to 'punch down' the dough; it will gently deflate as you fold and shape it.
  7. Cut the dough in half to make 2 loaves, or leave it whole for a single loaf. I prefer two small loaves as they're easier to shape and I like to freeze whatever we don't eat.
  8. To shape, use a bench scraper to move your dough to the non-floured section (if there is any flour present it will be difficult to shape- brush away any excess). Gather the dough, one side at a time, and fold it into the center. Flip the dough over and place it seam side down. Using your hands, gently cup the sides of the dough and rotate it using quarter turns in a circular motion. You can also pull it towards you to even out its shape. Repeat this process until you are happy with its appearance.
  9. Second rise: Place your dough(s) into a cloth lined basket, bowl, or floured brotform. It will need to rise again, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. It is ready when the dough is slightly puffy.
  10. Preparing the baking vessel: Preheat your oven to 400F. Generously coat the bottom of a Dutch oven(s) with cornmeal to prevent sticking. Carefully invert the dough into the pot. Use your hand to gently guide it in.
  11. Slash the dough: Right before your bread goes into the oven, make a shallow slash about 2 inches long in the center of the dough. Use a bread lame, sharp pairing or serrated knife.
  12. Bake the bread: Place your bread into the oven (lid on) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, and continue to bake (uncovered) for an additional 40 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of baking, crack open the oven door. This allows the moisture to escape, leaving your bread with a crisp crust.
  13. You can also take the internal temperature of your bread to double check that it is done. For sourdough, it should read about 205 F.
  14. Cooling: Remove the bread from the oven, and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.
  15. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Notes
* Because sourdough does not contain commercial yeast, it takes considerably longer to rise. In the summer months, it can take anywhere between 3-4 hours @ 85 F whereas in the winter, about 6-12 hours @ 55 F. In the winter, I make my dough in the afternoon and leave it to rise overnight at room temperature. In the warmer months, I bulk ferment in the fridge to control and slow down the rise rate.
sourdough noir | theclevercarrot.com

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Comments

    • Emilie says

      Don’t even talk to me about NOT sleeping! Story of my life + thinking about recipes. Or scrolling through Instagram. I am cursed. You make such lovely bread JJ, you will definitely have fun with a chocolate version. Perhaps with that vegan butter of yours…

    • Emilie says

      Hi Laura! I tried this recipe with Hershey’s Special Dark- a blend of natural & Dutch process cocoas and I was very pleased the the result. Normally I’m a Ghirardelli girl or even Green & Blacks. But I like this cocoa powder. It lends not only flavor, but that coveted dark chocolate color. Chocolate for days… ;)

  1. says

    Wow, Emilie, you make my want to bake bread (and that’s big!) ~ when I first saw this gorgeous, dark loaf I assumed that it was rye (naive, right? ;-) ) — the chocolate brings it to a whole other level. So unique and what a treat – I would love this around the holidays (I would try a version with macadamia me thinks). Beautiful too. Please keep up your wakeful dreaming!

    • Emilie says

      Yay! I’m going to convert you. The biggest misconception with bread baking is that it’s time consuming- and yes, it is. But most of the time is hands off, waiting for the dough to rise. It’s a rhythm that needs to be established more than anything else. Once you get going, it’s hard to turn back! I have a feeling you would excel at this my dear. And no, you are not naive for thinking that this was rye! I wanted it to look rich and dark ;) Love your festive macadamia version. Shall I make you one? xx

  2. says

    I am SO glad that I found your blog, if only for this recipe alone! I can’t wait to try it. I stupidly let my sourdough starter die a couple of months ago, but I’ve been thinking of getting it going again. I miss the act of baking bread. It’s such a grounding and rewarding experience. I am so looking forward to trying this. Also, the name rocks!! :)

    • Emilie says

      Hi Kris! Me too! Baking bread truly is a rewarding experience. With a little time and planning you can turn out the most delicious loaves with simple ingredients. When we moved into our new house I completely neglected both of my sourdough starters after religiously feeding them once or twice a week. The liquid on the top was black (eww). But surprisingly, I was able to revive both of them by pouring out most of the starter, reserving just a tiny bit at the bottom. It was alive and kickin’ within two feeds. I hope you get yours going again :)

  3. Merryl Chantrell says

    I can empathise with you about your son and his problems with Colic. Even though my son is now 35 we went through a similar experience when he was a baby and honestly you really do think you are going mad.

    • Emilie says

      Hi Merryl! Sorry to hear that you experienced colic with your son as well. I can certainly relate. Although he’s big and grown up now it’s something you never, ever forget. My friend recently had a baby and when I was in the hospital visiting her, there was a baby next door screaming its head off… for 2 hours straight. I think I started twitching ;)

    • Emilie says

      You hit the nail on the head, Jaime! A little midnight recipe creating and noir bread was born. If only I could be this productive during the day-ha! :)

    • Emilie says

      You are?! Yes! I love to talk bread. It is very special to have a starter passed down from a friend… and one that’s 20 years old is a real treat! My dear friend sent me some of hers from Australia… Enjoy the recipe, Celia! Let me know if you make it :)

  4. says

    This looks stunning Emilie. I already adore sourdough but the idea of a deep, dark bread like this (studded with chocolate and fruit nonetheless!) is so enticing. Haha… we’re kinda similar in terms of using our ‘sleeplessness’ for recipe creation etc. I do exactly the same thing, occasionally interspersed with positive self-talk and ideas on how to relax a bit more (when at work and stressed!). Love the notes on how you worked out the kinks in this recipe. You write so, so well… and I love the photographs (there is always something relaxing about photographs of bread). Hope that you are going well, lovely. Sorry for not being in touch for so long, I am sooo behind on my blog-reading at the moment xxx

    • Emilie says

      Darling, you don’t ever have to apologize… just make sure you’re come back! I feel like you have been gone for ages. I do enjoy watching your journey, although slightly jealous. It looks like you are having a beautiful time. Thank you for your thoughtful compliments- it’s comforting to know you’re midnight creator too. Why do have to live so far away?! ;) xx

    • Emilie says

      I know, the thought of baking sourdough can sound very intimidating, especially if you’ve never baked before. It took me many, many, many tries to get it to where I wanted it to be. And I’m still learning. It’s more of an art than an actual recipe and if you’re committed, it suddenly becomes second nature. My beginner’s tutorial is a great place to reference if you are just starting out. If you have any questions I’m happy to help :)

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Christine! Thank you very much! I agree with you- baking bread is such a wonderful ritual, I am quite addicted myself. Are you a baker as well?

      • says

        Thanks Emilie :) I do love to bake, but it doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me. I often need to experiment before I’m satisfied with the results but the experimenting is part of the fun so it’s okay with me!

        • Emilie says

          That’s the best way! I think we can only learn with practice (and failures!) and enjoying the process is what’s it’s all about. I’m right there with you :)

    • Emilie says

      Thank you! I love how you think! It’s so funny you mention cherries- I actually debated whether or not to throw them into the dough. My kids were eating them so I chose not to rock the boat ;)

    • Emilie says

      Hi David! That’s a great question- I haven’t made this bread without using a sourdough starter. However, if you’d like to experiment, I would take my recipe for No-Knead Artisan Bread and add 1/4 c. cocoa powder + all of the fillings (found in this recipe). The above link would be your best bet, but like I said, I haven’t done it myself! Do let me know how it turns out. Happy Baking :)

    • Emilie says

      You are quite welcome! I love chocolate/bread anything so the combo was a natural progression! Any leftovers make a fabulous bread pudding ;)

  5. says

    This recipe looks really wonderful! I wonder, though, whether I might be able to adapt it to 100% whole wheat? I’ve been making all whole wheat sourdough for the past year, and am (finally) getting pretty consistently good results. I’m guessing the main difference would be that I’d need to do either some kneading, or more stretch-and-folds. Any experience/suggestions in this area?

    • Emilie says

      Hello Holly! Thank you :)

      Although I’ve never tried this recipe with 100% whole wheat, I don’t see why not!

      Here’s what I would do:

      1.) Increase the autolyse period to about 1- 2 1/2 hours. This is important when working with whole grain flours.
      2.) After autolyse, do a series of stretch & folds every 1/2 hour. This will strengthen the dough.
      3.) Bulk ferment overnight (this eliminates the need for extra kneading).

      Because you have experience with whole wheat, you’ll know by feel if the dough needs extra water. Make adjustments to the recipe as needed if it seems dry. Also, I would soak the fruit and nuts during the autolyse period.

      Good luck! Do let me know how it turns out! Happy baking :)

  6. Sandra Art says

    Hi Emilie,
    I tried making this last night and it was so yummy and it looked pretty close to your pictures! I used parchment paper in my Dutch oven as I didn’t want to take the risk that the dough will stick to the bottom of my pan and it turned out very good, even better than the pain au chocolate that we used to get from our local grocery store! In your picture, there seems to be white/yellowish powder on the surface of the bread, is that from the powdered sugar or from the cornmeal? I just dusted it with AP flour just like when I do my regular no knead white bread. Also, how long can you refrigerate the dough and how long should I thaw it prior to baking? Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Sandra!

      Wow! That’s fantastic! Oh my goodness, I’m so glad you had success with the recipe. Thank you so much for the feedback :)

      If memory serves me correctly, the white/yellow powder is a combo of flour (a little got on top before it was baked, then turned yellow as a result of the heat) and the white is powdered sugar.

      The length of refrigeration will vary. I won’t let it go longer than 2-3 days. It’s rising strength will all depend on how powerful your starter is; mine is resilient! You might have to play around with this depending on your starter type. But for the modern schedule, it’s nice to have dough in the fridge ready to be baked when time permits.

      When you do take it out of the fridge, let it ‘thaw’ for at least an hour (time will vary as the weather begins to warm up- still snowing here). I find that baking room temperature bread yields lighter and fluffier results than cold bread, although professional bakers bake cold all the time. Just my preference!

      Keep me posted! Have a great weekend :)

  7. Mae says

    I made it today! Still sitting on table to cool…. Will have it for my breakfast:) I’ve been following your sourdough recipe then I spotted your noir version in Pinterest! So here I made it… Smell great! I’ve got caramel sauce in fridge planning to eat it with caramel sauce:) thank you… Would love to try more of your sourdough recipe :)

  8. Joanne says

    Thank you for sharing this gorgeous recipe! Inspired by your bread I made my own version of the recipe. I didn’t have the required amount of chocolate so I substituted the lacking amount with white chocolate (maybe a quarter of total amount) that I happened to have in my cupboard. Pecans instead of walnuts. Honey instead of sugar. 100 g of the flour I used was emmer wheat. And I made two small loaves and baked them on a pizza stone. It turned out great – and very chocolate-y! Yum!!

    • Emilie says

      Wow! Joanne, that sounds amazing! I love everything about your version- white chocolate, pecans, honey- delicious! Do you have a picture? I’d love to see! Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback, I really appreciate it :)

  9. Ayesha Ahmad says

    Emilie – this looks heavenly. I’m definitely going to try it this weekend (btw – ever since I discovered your post on sourdough – a beginner’s guide, about 6 weeks ago, I’ve been making bread at home with great success :)

    So three questions about this recipe:
    1) Can you skip the sugar altogether? Or does that make the taste of cocoa overwhelming?
    2) Can you also skip the chocolate chips?
    3) Can you make this with 100% all purpose sourdough starter instead of doing the 50/50?

    Thank you so much! Can’t wait to try this on the weekend.

    • Emilie says

      Hi there!

      That’s fantastic- I’m so happy to hear that! Isn’t baking bread something truly special?

      For this recipe, I wouldn’t skip the sugar. The bread is not sweet; it just offsets the cocoa. You can experiment with different kids of sugar, if you’d like. You can definitely skip the chocolate chips, but it really adds dimension and textural interest to the loaf. Plus, it brings out the cocoa flavor. Perhaps use a little less than skip it altogether. And for the starter, it’s totally fine to use what you have.

      Hope this helps, Ayesha. Have fun baking this weekend :)

  10. Kimberly K says

    Quick question – is the baking time of 20 covered/40 uncovered for the single large loaf? Or is it about the same regardless of the size?

    I think I’m going to try it with dried cherries in place of the raisins. Or it might be good with a little candied orange peel – chocolate and orange is such a wonderful combination…

    • Emilie says

      Hi Kimberly,

      It’s the same baking time (covered & uncovered) regardless of size!

      Dried cranberries will be perfect. I love cranberries with chocolate. And yes- you could try a little candied orange peel as well. All 3 would make a wonderful combo. Make it your own! I’m excited to hear how it comes out :) xo

  11. Shawna says

    On the second rise, I usually let it rise in my baking vessel. Should I not?
    What is the benefit of the second rise in the cloth lined basket vs. what it will be baked in?
    Is it to prevent sticking?
    I am looking forward to this bread tomorrow!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Shawna,

      Generally speaking- the second rise can be done either way depending on the type of dough you are working with.

      For example, in comparison to the original sourdough bread (the one you’ve been baking) this chocolate dough is particularly wet. It contains 100g more water.

      Wet doughs tend to spread out to the sides when rising. They’re still rising, just in a different manner. Therefore, the benefit of a cloth lined basket or banneton is that it will contain the dough’s shape during the second rise. Doing the second rise in your baking vessel is not preferred because it will spread too much, yielding flat bread. Does that make sense? Hope this helps!

  12. says

    Absolutely awesome recipe, thanks so much the combination of the sour crust with the chocolate inside is amazing. this’ll be repeated many times

  13. Sarah Bees says

    I love love LOVED this bread. It turned out beautifully!! This is definitely being added to my bread rotation :)

  14. runnerfemme says

    I made this yesterday and today with the following variations: I used dried cherries soaked for an hour or so in hot water, toasted pecans, Guittard dark chocolate chunks, and Dutch process cocoa. I also doubled the recipe and used some of the soaking water for the hydration. My husband is ooooing and aahhhhing right now over his decadent toast! Thank you for such wonderful inspiration!

  15. Mai says

    Thank you! This recipe has my friends crazy about it and asking for more when I baked it. Thanks! I almost wished you’ll have another sleepless night and come up with another brilliant recipe!

  16. Deon says

    Hi Emilie,

    This looks gorgeous and like you, I’ve been baking my own sourdough for a few weeks now. I would love to try out your recipe. May I ask you a few qns:

    1. Can the starter be directly from the fridge? Or do u feed it till u have 150g to start with?

    2. Can I just use a normal tray to bake this? Is a Dutch over completely necessary?

    Thank you!

    • Emilie says

      Hello Deon,

      Thank you for your note! To answer your questions, see below:

      1.) For best results, your starter should be at room temperature before using. Feed it until it’s bubbly and active, then measure out 150 g for your recipe.
      2.) You can use a normal tray, but you’ll need to create steam. All ovens are different and without added moisture, sometimes the crust will set too quickly which can hinder the rise of your bread. Try it and see how it goes.

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