Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chocolate Sourdough Improv.

On Valentine's Day, nothing says "I love you" like chocolate, cut flowers, and candy message hearts (specifically Fax me). Personally, I feel that bread is a lot more like love than any of those classic Valentine's gifts. Like love, bread requires time, heat, and proper kneading.

Nothing seemed more fitting for Valentine's Day than a boule of chocolate sourdough. I read a couple of different recipes for choco-sourdough bread. Naturally, I decided I would take the Pain au Levain recipe I used for the first sourdough and alter it to suit my Valentine's purposes.

First, I mixed
2 1/2 cups ripe starter
1 cup rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups of all-purpose flour
and 1 1/2 cups warm water

I read that using rye and whole wheat give sourdough an extra twang.

Then, I waited about 30 minutes. Autolyse!

When I went to knead the dough and found it was quite wet. I added about 1/4 a cup of all-purpose flour while kneading. Then, I kneaded in the 3 tsp salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup cocoa. The dough felt awesome and smelled delicious. Suddenly and unexpectedly, some sort of a reaction occurred. The dough became super sticky. SCIENCE!! I startled Andy awake to flour my mess that was supposed to be perfect Be Mine Sourdough bread.

Feeling disheartened, I generously floured (with Andy's help) a cotton dishtowel and let the dough rise there for about 1 hour. Since I had committed to babysit this evening (under the impression that Andy would already be in Peru), I left Andy to chop a bar of 70% cocoa and fold it into the dough. Love is trust. He shaped the dough into a boule and placed it into Lil's dutch oven to rise until I returned home (7 hours later).

When I got home, we revved up the oven to 450°F and popped the loaf in the oven -- cooking uncovered for 20 minutes with steam and 25 covered without (45 minutes total).

How to turn your oven into a sauna: To create a steamy oven place a cast iron pan on the bottom rack of the oven as it preheats. Meanwhile, boil some water on the stovetop. You may want to turn on a fan for this. It's getting hot in herre. Then, as the oven comes up to 450°F put the boule in (uncovered) as you pour about 1 cup of water into the cast iron pan. ¡CUIDATE! This creates a lot of steam so work quickly and carefully. Avoid steam burns. If you have a spray bottle (we don't) you can also squirt some water in there. Regardless, don't steam for more than 20 minutes or you'll get a tough crust. We are going for chewy, not tough. You'll find this activity is easier if you are an octopus-chef or with the help of a friend/lover.

To be super adorable I slashed a heart (about 1/4 inch deep) into the top crust before it went into the oven. I can't take credit for the idea -- I saw it on the loaves at Orwasher's Bakery.

XOXO Happy Valentine's Day!

Love, Sarah

P.S. As we are biting into the bread Andy told me he decided a bar of chocolate was too much and only put in "3/5" of a bar. It's delicious but for an extra sweet Valentine's Day I would recommend some peanut butter or nutella.


  1. You guys are so adorable and creative!!
    I am currently waiting for the big punch my first loaf's first rise period! Very excited. I can't make myself leave the kitchen; I just want to be close to it (maybe a desire to express some residual valentine's sentiments). The warmed oven is the only place for it to rise in my unheated Andalusian house in February.
    Anyhow, thanks for the inspiration and I'll let you know how it turns out!

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