The best healthy chocolate sourdough bread recipe made with cacao powder and natural fermentation with sourdough starter! This no-sugar-added, gut healthy chocolate sourdough bread tastes like dark chocolate and will be your new favorite bake! It’s perfect as a snack topped with almond butter and sliced banana or for breakfast with grass-fed butter and a side of yolky eggs.
- Feed Your Starter: You’ll want to feed your starter about 8-12 hours before you plan to mix all of the ingredients together. Since this recipe calls for 80g of active, bubbly starter, it makes sense to feed at least 70 grams of water and 70g of flour the night before if you’re planning to mix the following morning. You’ll remove 80g the next day for this recipe, and you should have just enough on hand to refeed to maintain your starter.
- Mix and Initial Stretch & Fold Set: Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix with your hands for a few minutes until all ingredients are incorporated. If using a dough mixer, you can mix the dough on low for 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, and then perfect stretch and folds for 1-3 minutes or until the dough feels smooth and it becomes difficult to stretch out. This process helps your dough keep its form through the bulk fermentation.
- Bulk Fermentation: Bulk fermentation is simply the process of letting your dough ferment at room temperature until it nearly doubles in size. It usually takes about 4-7 hours depending on the temperature of your home and the strength of your starter. For this step, you’re going to perform 3-5 sets of stretch and folds every 1hr throughout the duration of the bulk fermentation. You do not need to be perfect with timing when it comes to stretch and folds! It’s most important to get a couple of sets in during the beginning of the bulk. I don’t bother timing stretch and folds anymore just aim for at least 4 sets of stretch and folds.
- Shape: Now before shaping, you’ll want to prepare your proofing basket. Line your proofing basket with a kitchen towel or liner if you have one, and lightly dust with flour. Lightly flour your work surface, and sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough as well.
- Flip the dough over, laying the flour side down on the counter. Your dough should look like a long rectangular-ish shape.
- Grab the bottom edge of the dough and fold it up and over the middle to form a one-third fold.
- Now grab the bottom two corners and fold them towards the middle so they overlap.
- Now fold the top edge towards the middle about halfway.
- Now, stitch the dough by taking the top corners and folding it over itself. Repeat this fold until you reach the bottom – it’s sort of like rolling up a sleeping bag. When you’re done, pick up the dough and place it in the proofing basket, upside down, with the newly created seam facing up. Here’s a great shaping video for reference.
- When you’re done, pick up the dough and place it in the proofing basket, upside down, with the newly created seam facing up.
- Overnight Rise: Now it’s time to lay your dough baby to rest and pop her in the fridge. First, you’ll need to cover it to prevent the exterior of the dough from drying out. I use these elastic dough covers. After you’ve covered the dough, place it in the fridge and let it hang out there for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.
- Preheat Oven + Cast Iron: The next day, Preheat your oven to 500 F and place a cast iron pan with the lid inside for 30 minutes – 1 hour. When you’re ready to bake, remove your dough from the fridge. Cover your Tupperware/bread basket with a piece of parchment paper, and then place a cutting board over the parchment paper. While holding the parchment paper and cutting board against the Tupperware, flip it over and allow the dough to turn out.
- Score Bread: Using a scoring knife, gently score your bread at a 45-degree angle, cutting just below the skin that has formed on the outer layer of the dough. This step will allow gases to escape while the bread bakes and prevent it from cracking in unpredictable ways. By scoring, we have greater control of the final product. Here’s a helpful video from Breadtopia on how to score a boule (tip: you don’t need to do a full cross-section like they do in the video. I just do one straight line).
- Bake: Quickly remove your Dutch oven from the oven while being mindful of letting as little heat escape as possible. Lifting from the parchment paper edges, place your dough in the Dutch oven, add the lid, and bake at 500 for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid, and lower the temp to 450. Continue baking for another 15– 20 minutes. The bread is done when the crust is a beautiful golden brown and the internal temp is about 208-210 degrees.
- Cool and Enjoy: Allow the bread to fully cool (at least one hour) before slicing into it. Or, don’t wait and cut into after 15 minutes. Slather with butter and serve with fried eggs. Cutting into it right away will yield a slightly gummier loaf, but NOTHING is better than fresh baked bread straight out of the oven!
*If using white bread flour like King Arthurs, reduce water to 296-304g (74-76%)