Chocolate Sourdough Bread is a delicious sweet bread recipe made with sourdough starter, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips. Make it for the holidays or a special dessert that everyone will love.
If you want something other than a dessert bread, make our classic Dutch oven sourdough bread.
Content Covered Here
Why We Love Chocolate Sourdough Bread
- A sweet way to use your sourdough starter.
Have extra sourdough starter you’re not sure what to do with? Try this sweet version of your favorite bread. You can also try our sourdough cake or sourdough discard cinnamon rolls.
- Kids love it!
This semi-sweet dessert is perfect for kids in place of a slice of cake or other heavily sweetened option. Plus, they love it!
- Perfect to make ahead.
Since this bread can take from 4 up to 12 hours to rise, this is a great option for making ahead and eating the next day.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Sourdough starter: Be sure to feed your sourdough starter 12-24 hours before using it to make this chocolate chip sourdough bread recipe.
- Bread flour: You can use all-purpose or whole wheat flour as well. Substitute all-purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio. Substitute whole wheat flour by replacing ½ the all-purpose with whole wheat.
- Brown sugar: Substitute 2 tablespoons of honey for the brown sugar, if desired.
- Cocoa powder: We recommend using Dutch process cocoa powder for this sourdough dessert bread.
- Chocolate chips: This chocolate bread recipe uses semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you can use milk or dark chocolate.
Chocolate Sourdough Bread Recipe Tips
- Make a shaggy dough.
You’ll start this cocoa sourdough bread by combining the dry and wet ingredients in a bowl and mixing just until a shaggy dough forms.
There’s no need to knead the dough at this point. Cover and let it rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten strands to strengthen before moving on.
- Don’t knead!
When working with sourdough starter, instead of kneading the bread as you normally would, you’ll stretch and fold instead.
To do this, dump the dough onto a floured counter and coat your hands with flour as well.
Then, stretch one-quarter of the dough and fold it back toward the center. Turn the bread and continue stretching and folding for about 15 seconds. Then return the dough to the bowl and cover for an additional rise.
- Let the dough rise until doubled and bubbly.
The dough will rise over the course of 4-12 hours until it’s doubled in size and bubbly on top.
The room temperature and level of humidity will affect the rising time.
People in dry climates and high elevations should cover the bowl with plastic wrap for the bulk rise. People in cooler climates might want to invest in this warming mat for proofing.
- Add the chocolate chips to the dough.
After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface, fold in the chocolate chips, and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
If you have trouble folding the chocolate chips into the dough, just tuck them into the dough before you pinch it closed.
- Prepare for final rise and baking.
After adding the chocolate chips, put the dough in a Dutch oven, cover it, and let it rise for another 45 minutes.
Bake covered for 30 minutes, uncovered for 20 minutes, and then remove the bread from the pan and place it directly on the rack for 5 minutes to crisp up the exterior.
The bread is done cooking when the internal temperature reaches between 195-205°F.
If you’re using a Dutch oven with a dark interior, we recommend insulating the bottom with a round silicone baking mat under the parchment paper.
Or, you can place the pot on a baking sheet before baking. This helps prevent the bottom crust of the bread from becoming too dark.
Chocolate Sourdough Bread FAQs
This happens if the dough is too warm. If you have trouble folding the chocolate chips into the dough, just tuck them into the dough before you pinch it closed. A little bit of oozing chocolate after baking is normal and to be expected.
Dough rises more quickly in warm and humid environments, but don’t worry, you can still make this chocolate chip bread with yeast. Rising times will vary according to your room temperature and humidity: at 80ºF about 4 hours; at 75ºF about 6 hours; at 70ºF about 8 hours; and at temperatures under the dough 70ºF can take up to 12 hours.
We don’t recommend refrigerating the dough because this can prevent it from rising enough.
Storing and Reheating
Store sourdough bread at room temperature in a bread bag for up to 5 days, or see our post for other ways to store sourdough bread.
You can also freeze this bread in an airtight container or bag for up to three months.
To thaw, leave it in the container or bag on the counter overnight or until it’s no longer frozen in the middle.
Chocolate Sourdough Bread
- ½ cup (100 grams) sourdough starter fed 12-24 hours ahead
- 1 ½ cups (350 grams) filtered water about 100º F.
- 4 cups (500 grams) bread flour *see notes for substitutions
- ¼ cup (50 grams) packed brown sugar *see notes to use honey
- ½ cup (50 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons (9 grams) coarse salt
- ½ cup (100 grams) chocolate chips
- In a large bowl, mix together the sourdough starter and warm water. Using a dough whisk or a wooden spoon, stir until dissolved. Stir in the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until a shaggy looking dough forms. Finish mixing dough by hand in the bowl until the flour has been absorbed. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let the dough autolyse (rest) for 30-45 minutes.
- Lightly flour your countertop. Using a dough scraper or your clean hands, pull the dough from the bowl and transfer to the countertop. **If the dough is sticky, wet or flour your hands for the next step.
- Stretch and fold the dough for 15 seconds by grabbing the edge of the dough and bringing it straight up about 4 inches, then tucking it into the center of the dough.Turn the dough clockwise 1/4 a turn and continue the stretching/folding/turning process until the dough has come full circle and it has tightened.
- Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp towel (or plastic wrap if you live in a dry area) and and let rise at room temperature or a warm area (72º to 80º F) for 4-8 hours to rise and ferment. **See notes on rising times, below. Do not refrigerate the dough. When properly fermented, the dough should be double in size and look bubbly on the surface and underneath.
- Lightly flour your countertop. Pull the dough from the bowl and onto the counter. Make a well in the center of the dough and add the chocolate chips. Then, shape the dough by stretching and folding it again. Let the dough rest 10 – 15 minutes. **If you have trouble folding the chocolate chips into the dough, just tuck them into the dough before you pinch it closed.Line a medium sized bowl with a towel, or use a banneton bowl with linen cover (see photos), and dust heavily with flour. Let dough rise in it for 45-60 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 450º (do not preheat the Dutch oven). Cover the top of the dough bowl with a long sheet of parchment paper, (about 20 inches long) and turn it over onto the countertop, top side down.
- Use a lame or serrated knife to make a few slashes in the top of the loaf. Gently lower the parchment paper and dough into the pot and cover. ** If using a Dutch Oven with a dark interior, we recommend insulating the bottom with a round silicone baking mat under the parchment paper. Or, you can place the pot on a baking sheet. This helps prevent the bottom crust of the bread from becoming too dark.
- Place the covered pot in the the oven and bake the bread for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and continue baking for another 20 minutes. After 50 minutes, use oven mitts to carefully remove the bread from the pot. Place the loaf directly on the oven rack, and bake for 5-10 minutes to crisp the exterior (if needed). To ensure the bread is cooked through, you can check the internal temperature. It should be 195ºF to 205ºF.
- Let chocolate sourdough bread cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.
To substitute all purpose flour for bread flour, use a 1:1 ratio.
To substitute whole wheat flour for up to one half of the total amount of flour, substitute at a 1:1 ratio. Rising times will vary according to your room temperature and humidity:
80ºF about 4 hours
75ºF about 6 hours
70ºF about 8 hours
Temperatures under 70ºF can take up to 12 hours. Store bread at room temperature in a bread bag for up to 5 days, or read our post for other ways to store sourdough bread.