Chilli and Chocolate Sourdough Bread

ChilliChocBread1Chilli and chocolate – a classic combination which still takes many by surprise.  In this recipe I’ve used a whole, dried Pasilla chilli which I’ve deseeds and soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes to dehydrate.  The Pasilla is a rich, fruity chilli with an earthy, almost tobacco-like smokiness.  It adds some great depth and complements the chocolate really well, but doesn’t provide a lot of heat, so I’ve also added about 1/2 tsp thai chilli flakes.  These are really hot, and as I’m getting to the bottom of the jar, are more like powder than flakes so dissipate well throughout the loaf.  You can use any chilli combinations you like, and adjust the quantities to meet your taste.  Dried cayenne type chillies are a good place to start.

As  far as the chocolate s concerned, the usual rules apply – go for the best you can find.  A high cocoa content tends to give a rich, bitter flavour which is exactly what this bread needs.  I’ve also added an equal quantity of cocoa nibs (unprocessed cocoa beans), which add a bit of a crunch.  If you can’t get hold of these, double up in the dark chocolate.  You don’t want big chunks of chocolate – this isn’t supposed to be a chic-chip cookie.  I make chocolate shavings using a vegetable peeler, which gives good, discrete flakes rather than grating which can encourage the chocolate to melt into the dough.

As this is a sourdough recipe, it takes some time to complete.  You’ll need good ambient temperatures over a day or so to get the yeasts activating and the dough to rise.  The long proving times go mean that the flavours have a good time to develop.  The times are approximate and depend both on environment and the activity of your sourdough starter.  My initial rise took quite some time, but clearly after this, the freshly fed sourdough got a new lease of life – after about 4 hours of proving in a warm room, I had to move the banneton into a cold room to retard the process and allow the dough to survive the night.  NB: I could have chosen to bake the loaf at that time, but it was a bit too late in the day

Aside: You’ll notice the ‘arty’ effect on the top of the loaf ofter proving.  It looks like the bread is being unwrapped, and is due entirely to the fact that the loaf stuck to the banneton in 2 small places, tearing the fine skin that formed over the surface.  This was partially due to the lack of flour int he banneton, and partially due to the extended proving time, which gave a chance for the moisture in the loaf to penetrate.  It didn’t spoil the bread, but did impact it’s shape at a point in the process where it couldn’t easily be recovered.  All the same, it tasted great!

Makes 1 loaf


  • 1-2 Dried Chilli of your choice
  • 1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes or hot Chilli Powder
  • 25g Dark Chocolate, finely flaked
  • 25g Cocoa Nibs (or another 25g of dark chocolate)
  • 375g Strong White Flour
  • 7g Salt
  • 200ml tepid Water
  • 250g Sourdough Starter
  • Olive Oil for kneading


  • Deseed the dried chillies and rehydrate in a jug of boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Drain the finely chop
  • In a mixing bowl, add the chocolate flakes, cocoa nibs, chilli flakes, chopped chilli, flour and salt.  Mix roughly
  • In a jug, stir the sourdough starter into the water to make a smooth liquid.  Add the to the flour and mix well with a knife before getting stuck in with your hands
  • Bring together into a rough dough ball, collecting all of the loose bits from the bowl, and turn out onto an oiled work surface
  • Knead well for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Tae care not too heat the dough up too much with your hands and melt the chocolate
  • The dough should start to change to an orangey colour as it starts to absorb the liquid from the soaked chilli
  • Return the dough to the bowl and cover with cling film.  Leave to rise somewhere warm (a comfortable room temperature, out of any draft), which will probably take around 5 hours by which time the dough should have doubled in size
  • Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knock back.  Fold over a couple of times and form into a neat round.  The dough needs to prove for an extended period (both to develop the flavours and to ensure that the sourdough has time to work).  Proving in a banneton is a good idea, but you could use a tin or bowl.
  • Cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm for around 12 hours to double in size.  If the dough starts to rise too quickly, move somewhere cooler to retard the process, or just bake sooner
  • Turn the proved dough out onto baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven, 220oC, for about 35 minutes.  Place a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to create a steam environment, which will give a great crust
  • Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool before serving

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Will definitely try this, yum…
    I have nominated you for a A Most Inspiring blogging award, but because i’m such a luddite you may not have got the ping back!
    The rules:
    1. Display the award logo on your blog.
    2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
    3. State 7 things about yourself.
    4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
    5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.
    Badge is on my page, just copy and paste – congrats! x

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