Recipe by Lexi Castagna
200g sourdough starter (fed, see notes below)
1 tsp vanilla extract or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
500g bread flour
50g TCHO Natural Cocoa Powder
10g fine sea salt
65g chopped walnuts
65g dried cherries
150g TCHO Pro Chocolatey 70% Dark Chocolate Discs, chopped
- In a large bowl, mix together the starter, water, sugar, and vanilla.
- Add in sifted flour and cocoa powder. Combine ingredients with hands until flour is incorporated.
- Cover and let sit for about 1 hour.
- Fold in salt, walnuts, cherries, and chocolate pieces into the dough. Reform into a rough ball shape and put back into your bowl.
- Now for the bulk fermentation! Your dough should rise to about double its initial size during this process. Cover your bread with a slightly damp dish cloth and place in a warm spot. Note: Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, this can take anywhere from 3 to 12 hours.
- During bulk fermentation, to develop gluten and strengthen your dough, you'll stretch and shape your dough every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours. To start, delicately pull the far edge of your dough up and fold it over to the middle of the dough ball. Make a quarter-turn, and repeat the fold. Repeat 2 more times until you have 4 folded edges.
- Cover and let rise until dough is about twice the size.
- Next up is shaping the dough! You'll want half of your work surface floured, but be sure to keep some space flour-free for the next step. Begin by turning your dough onto the floured surface and gently stretch the dough into a rectangle. Fold the top 1/3 over and lightly press into the center of the dough. Repeat by folding the right side over 1/3, then the left side. Finish by folding the bottom 1/3 over and lightly press. Then, roll the top in on itself towards you until the seam is on the bottom.
- Transfer the dough to your flour-free surface and using your hands, gently cup the sides while moving the dough in a tight circular motion. The dough should be smooth and develop fairly tight tension over the surface.
- Line a bowl with cloth and lightly flour. Then, place the dough in the bowl, seam side up. Cover and let rise again. Note: If you're cooking right away, this should take about 45 to 60 minutes. Or if you'd like to cook the next day, cover and put in the fridge overnight (for about 8-12 hours), just pull from the fridge about 20 minutes before you bake!
- Preheat your oven to 450oF with a dutch oven and lid inside. Note: The dutch oven is important to mimic a professional baker's oven. The hot surface and the lid help steam the bread and create that classic sourdough crust.
- Once the oven is up to temperature, if the seam side of your dough looks a little wet, sprinkle with some flour. Remove the base of the dutch oven from the oven and carefully invert the dough into the center of the dish.
- Using a sharp knife or razor-edge, cut a square into the top of the dough. Cut on an angle to keep the cut fairly shallow.
- Place lid on the dutch oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove the lid and drop the temperature to 400oF. Bake for another 20-30 minutes.
- Carefully, remove loaf from dutch oven and let cool on a cooling rack.
- Wait patiently.
- Once cool, slice off a chunk and eat as is, slather with some honey butter, or top with some brie and jam...Whatever floats your boat!
For the sourdough starter, we used King Arthur Flour's guidelines. Fun Tip: we've found that naming our starter helps us make sure it's fed regularly!