One of the busier parts of our summer this year was selling bread (and other baked goods) at a farmer's market close to home. Getting my oven to turn out 12+ sourdough loaves by 2pm felt like a competition sport in timing and counter space Tetris, but one of the results was that I started feeling confident enough to come up with new bread ideas weekly.
This chocolate swirl bread was one of the results of those experiments. With just a little bit of oil, sugar, and cocoa powder you can transform a basic sourdough loaf into a slightly sweet, dark-chocolate filled treat that would go perfectly with some tea and coffee.
7 oz recently fed sourdough starter
12 oz water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1/4 cup oil (I used coconut, but butter could work too)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 + cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3-6 T sugar (depends on your preference)
1/3 cup cocoa
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
3 T whole wheat flour
3 T oil (again, I used coconut oil, but butter is a fine substitute)
Time: About 30 minutes active, 6 hours passive, 1 hour baking
In a large bowl, mix your starter, water, salt, vanilla, and sugar, and swirl with your hand until everything is well mixed. Add one cup of flour, and mix well again.
Liquefy your oil, if necessary. When I was baking this bread on a 90 degree day in July (a rather questionable activity, to be sure), my coconut oil was already liquid without any intervention, but in the colder months, you may need to warm it on the stove before adding it to the mix. Add oil to your floury soup.
Now, add two more cups of flour and the cocoa powder, mixing with your hand, until well-incorporated. You want this dough to be well-hydrated, so it's okay if it feels really wet by this point. Let it rest five minutes.
Now, knead your dough in the bowl, scraping at the sides to get any loose bits of material. After 5 minutes of kneading, you may be surprised that it is not nearly as wet as it was. (if it seems too sticky to work with after kneading--possibly the case on a humid day--you can add a little bit more flour at this point to make it manageable). Let it rest 5 more minutes and make yourself a cup of tea.
Alright, last time, promise. Knead your dough in the bowl for 5 more minutes. If it's a dry day, you may find that you need to actually add more water. If you're a bread maker (and especially if you are a sourdough bread maker) you know that working with bread dough is like working with a living animal. It can be a little different every time you approach it depending on environmental factors. Your end result should be a smooth ball of dough, able to softly hold its shape, if that makes any sense. Keep your dough in the bowl, cover it with a towel, and let rise for 2.5-3 hours.
Alright, now it starts getting fun. It's time to make the filling.
In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon (note: you won't really taste it--it just rounds out the flavor). Add your oil and vanilla, and mix thoroughly. Now the goal is to get this stuff the consistency of smooth peanut butter, so depending on how its looking, you may need to add some boiling water. Add it in tiny amounts until it looks just right. You really can't mess this part up, unless you eat it.
...which is tempting, but wait. Your time will come.
Now, flour your clean countertop and pat your dough into a rough rectangle, something close to 9x13" (no need to use a rolling pin, it should be soft enough to comply to your demands).
Spread all that chocolatey goodness over the surface of the dough, leaving a one inch margin around the perimeter. Then, using my super-fancy GIF as a guide, roll that sucker up. If you are planning to bake in a bread pan, you could grease it and get it to fit, I guess, but we're going FREE FORM. Gently fold it in half, seam side in.
Get a large bowl and line it with a proofing cloth (if you have one) or a cloth napkin (this is what I use). Just make sure it is not anything like a bath towel...unless you're a fan of linty bits in your breadcrust. Dust the cloth with flour, and dust the surface of your dough with flour. Place it in the bowl, seam-side up, and allow to rise for 2.5-3 more hours. (During this time, if you lick the chocolate filling bowl before washing it, I won't blame you).
Once you're close to the end of that second rise time, preheat your oven to 415° F.
Grease a baking sheet (or line with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, whatever method you like best) and turn out your loaf, seam side down. Score the loaf (I love making pretty patterns in it, so that the chocolate is visible through). Bake it in the middle rack of your oven for 30-50 minutes...however long it takes until a thermometer inserted in the bottom of the loaf reaches 190-200° F.
Let it rest 10 minutes before slicing, and enjoy! Its delicious on its own, but also tasty toasted or spread with peanut butter. You can also slice and freeze it, if you make multiple loaves.
We are a husband and wife who are trying to live simply. We are learning much as we transition from life in the city to life in the country. Come along with us, and maybe you can also learn a thing or two as well.
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Simple Life Homestead