Bakers Journal

Formula: Chocolate cherry sourdough bread

October 22, 2008
By Tracey Muzzolini

p36_choco_cherryOctober 22, 2008 – One of our experts shares a favourite holiday sourdough recipe sure to entice customers with a sweet tooth. This formula is a spin-off of the Italian classic chocolate bread. Added to this formula are rum-soaked cherries, bittersweet chocolate and sourdough culture. 

p36_choco_cherryThis formula is a spin-off of the Italian classic chocolate bread. Added to this formula are rum-soaked cherries, bittersweet chocolate and sourdough culture. The key to this bread is a quality bittersweet chocolate, as the flavour is not intended to be too sweet. A cup of coffee, a glass of wine and a nice mascarpone cheese are wonderful accompaniments to this bread. I have also enjoyed this bread for dessert with a lovely port. If you want to have a special treat, try chocolate bread as French toast – you’ll find it simply delicious and decadent.

I have been making this bread in my bakery, Christie’s Mayfair Bakery in Saskatoon, Sask., for about 10 years around holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. It makes a nice addition to the holiday line and customers enjoy having something different and special to enjoy with loved ones at family gatherings.

The term viennoiserie is used to describe yeast-raised products enriched with butter and eggs and sweetened with sugar, although not always all three. There are certain considerations in regards to mixing viennoiserie. Specifically, this chocolate cherry sourdough bread contains 24 per cent sugar. The yeast percentage has been increased to compensate for the effect the sugar has on fermentation. Osmotolerant yeast has been designed specifically for use in viennoiserie, providing a better fermentation activity and fuller volume in the finished product, and is a good choice for this formula.


Sugar is hygroscopic and competes with the flour protein for hydration; this can delay the formation of gluten during mixing and increase the mixing time. It is a good idea to add the sugar in two stages to allow the gluten to develop and shorten the mixing time. Also, with the high percentage of butter, 10 to 12 per cent or more, it is better to develop the gluten first and then incorporate the butter in the end. Doughs high in fat and sugar need a lot of strength to support these ingredients, so it is important to have an intensive mix and develop a strong gluten structure. Baking temperature should be lower than other breads as the ingredients will cause excessive caramelization on the crust.

The high percentages of sugar and butter will produce a soft crust and tight crumb, in addition to decreasing the staling time. The sugar is a nice balance to the bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder. The rum-soaked raisins are deliciously soft and moist and contrast with the chunky chocolate. With a glass of wine or for breakfast with coffee, your customers will love the special treat of this chocolate cherry sourdough bread.


Chocolate cherry sourdough bread
Number of 0.25 kg loaves: 24
Amount of dough required: 6.0 kg

Total dough
 Ingredient  %               
Bakers %  
 White flour  35.5  100.0 2.129
 Water  25.9  73.0 1.554
 Salt  0.7  2.0    0.043
 Instant yeast     0.5  1.3 0.028
 Sugar  7.1  20.0    0.426
Cocoa powder      3.2     9.0 0.192
 Butter     5.3 15.0    0.319
 Sour cherry     8.9    25.0    0.532
 Bittersweet chocolate     12.4    35.0    0.745
 Sourdough starter  0.5 1.5    0.032
 Levain     n/a n/a  n/a
 Totals  100.0  281.80   

 Preferment (levain)

 Ingredient  %  kg  
 White flour  100  0.319  
 Water  100  0.319  
 Sourdough starter  10  0.032  
 210  0.671  
Final Dough

 Ingredient  %  kg  
 White flour    100.0    1.810  
 Water 68.2    1.235  
 Salt 2.4 0.043  
 Instant yeast 1.5 0.028  
 Sugar 23.5 0.426  
 Cocoa powder    10.6    0.192  
 Butter 17.6    0.319  
 Sour cherry    29.4 0.532  
 Bittersweet chocolate 41.2    0.745  
 Sourdough starter 0.0 0.000  
 Levain 37.1    0.671  



Chop chocolate into small chunks. Chop cherries into small pieces and macerate with rum and water for at least one hour.

Levain formula is 100 per cent flour, 100 per cent water and 10 per cent starter.
Mix levain by hand or in a mixer according to amount with final dough temperature of 74 F and ferment for 12-15 hours at 75 F.

Final dough mix
Adjust water temperature so final dough temperature is 75 F. Add flour, cocoa powder, salt, yeast and levain to the bowl of a spiral mixer. Mix five minutes on first speed. Add the sugar in two parts while mixing in second speed. Allow the gluten to develop before adding more sugar. Mix on second speed for approximately five minutes until full development. Add butter and mix on second speed to full development, approximately five minutes more. When dough is fully developed add cherries and chocolate and mix on first speed until incorporated.

Place in a holding tub and ferment one hour at room temperature. After one hour, fold dough and refrigerate for an additional hour. Refrigerating the dough makes it much easier to handle and shape.

Divide mini loaves at 250 grams each and preshape into rounds.

Divide small boules at 70 grams and preshape into rounds. Rest for 20 minutes.

Shape mini loaves into batards and place in greased mini loaf tins.

Shape small balls and place onto a sheet pan with parchment.

Proof breads approximately 1-2 hours.

Bake loaves in 360 F (182 C) for approximately 30 minutes.

Bake small boules for 15 minutes at 360 F (182 C).

Let loaves cool in pans before removing.

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