Chocolate, cranberry & orange sourdough

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This sweet sourdough loaf is stuffed with juicy dried cranberries that have been soaked in orange juice, and chunks of dark chocolate. While the aroma of the dough as you work with it is wonderful, the smells wafting through the house as it bakes is out of this world!

This particular sourdough is great sliced and spread with butter (salted is most definitely preferred here!) or made into a very special French toast. However, it makes THE most stunning chocolate bread and butter pudding (especially great served with a caramelised top and a lightly orange-flavoured custard):

As with most breads worth eating, it takes time to make in order to get real flavour out of it, but there is very little hands-on time as most of the time the dough is proving and doing its thing, so it is hardly a chore!

Stretching and folding the dough

For a sourdough with lots of extra goodies added, or for a slacker dough, I tend to favour the stretch and fold method over traditional kneading:

  • take a large handful of the dough, stretch it high out of the bowl before dropping it back onto the dough
  • repeat this for a couple of minutes, rotating the bowl each time: you will feel the dough start to tighten a little
  • cover the dough and repeat this process several times 20 minutes or so later for a couple of hours before letting the dough have its first rise (bulk fermentation): the dough will become even tighter with later stretch and folds

I normally feed my starter in the morning, before making up the dough early evening. Full details on sourdough, including how to make and maintain a starter and the stretch and fold method, are in my main sourdough post here.

Cranberry, orange & chocolate sourdough: makes 1 large loaf

  • 500g strong white plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons skimmed milk powder
  • 10g fine sea salt
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100g sourdough starter, fed the day before (see above)
  • 300ml water, plus a bit extra if needed
  • juice & finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 140g dried cranberries
  • 150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

(1) Put the cranberries into a small pan along with the orange juice and zest. Bring to the boil, stir well and then remove from the heat. Cover and leave to plump up for at least hour, ideally overnight: the cranberries will soak up most of the juice, but any surplus juice can be added to the main dough:

(2) Mix the flour, cocoa powder, salt, milk powder and sugar in the bowl of a food mixer. Add the starter and most of the water, along with any orange juice not soaked up by the cranberries, stirring everything together, adding more water if necessary to form a soft dough – add more water if it feels at all dry.

(3) Knead on a medium setting for about 5 minutes and then perform about 4-5 stretch and folds sessions (see above recipe) before covering the dough with a damp cloth and leaving it at room temperature for an hour or so.

NB: you are essentially going up to and including stage 5 of the main sourdough recipe here

(4) Turn the dough out onto a work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. Give the dough a stretch and fold or two and gently flatten out to a large rough-ish rectangle with the shorter edge towards you.

(5) Scatter over about half of the chocolate and cranberries over one half of the dough, leaving a border all around.  Fold the exposed half of dough over and press down on top of the cranberries and chocolate. Flatten out again, pulling the dough a bit to help it expand, and repeat with the remaining cranberries and chocolate.

(6) Pat out to a larger rectangle, with the width just shorter than the width of the banneton and roll up fairly tightly to give a taut dough. You shouldn’t have any pieces of cranberries or chocolate sticking out, but if you do, push them into the dough so they don’t burn when the dough bakes.

(7) Place in a large banneton that has been dusted liberally with rice flour or fine semolina.

(8) Dust the dough’s surface with rice flour or semolina and pop inside a large plastic bag/bin liner. Leave to prove overnight at room temperature: if the room is too warm, you can pop it into the fridge after 3-4 hours until the morning.

(9) The next morning, pop the dough into the fridge (if it is not already in there!) for a couple of hours. Towards the end of that time, preheat the oven to its highest setting and place a solid roasting tin on the bottom and a solid baking tray on the top shelf. Turn the dough onto the hot baking tray and score with a razor: just a few determined slashes, not going too deep.

(10) Place in the oven and pour some cold water or a couple of handfuls of ice into the roasting tin to create a good amount of steam and close the door. Bake for 10 minutes at this setting before turning the oven down to 200C(fan). Continue to bake for a further 30-40 minutes or so: the bread should have a dark brown colour and sound very hollow underneath.

(11) Transfer to a wire rack and cool fully before slicing and eating.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

8 thoughts on “Chocolate, cranberry & orange sourdough”

  1. Having recently started baking sourdough during lockdown, I’ve just made this – followed the recipe closely – and eaten it fresh from the oven. Quite possibly the best thing EVER! Thank you so much for an amazing recipe and I’ll be making bread & butter pud with it too!

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  2. Hi Philip, thanks for posting this, it looks great and I’m looking forward to making it later today. You mentioned using this to make “a chocolate bread and butter pudding with a caramelised top and a lightly orange-flavoured custard.” That sounds amazing and I’ve never made a bread pudding. As a novice baker, do you have anywhere you could point me to create the above mentioned dessert? Thanks so much!

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    1. Hi Jeff, I hope you enjoyed making and eating it. For the choc bread and butter pudding, you can simply make a normal bread and butter pud but use this sourdough, add some orange zest to the custard (and maybe some Cointreau), and sprinkle with soft brown sugar before baking it. Best wishes, Philip

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