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“When the bread is bad, the whole life is bad!”

— Henry Miller

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Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread

aka Cocoa Craisin Bread

If you think Sourdough bread should be made with just flour, water, salt, and starter. ... just keep on looking. However, if you like an occasional walk on the wild side, maybe this bread will be upChocolate cherry sourdough bread your alley.

This bread has a lot of dark, rich chocolate taste in it, its bitterness balanced by the dried cranberries. I made it for a church pot-luck and not much survived to be taken home. We topped it with a Cinnamon-Clove honey that I had reservations about before I tried it.

We had tried this bread with dried cherries, but we couldn't reliably find cherries as tart as we wanted, nor at a price that made sense in bread we were going to sell. When we stumbled across dried cranberries at the grocery store, we tried 'em, and now we love 'em.  We've used both sweetened (Craisins) and unsweetened dried cranberries and both work well.

Since this bread is made with Cocoa rather than chocolate, and we usually used Craisins, we called it "Cocoa Craisin" bread at the farmers market.

Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread, crumb detailYou can make this with just about any dried fruit. However, some dried fruits have enzymes on them that interfere with yeast. To avoid problems, poach the dried fruit as described below.

This recipe is modified from a recipe in "Flavored Breads - Recipes from Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe," a cookbook we recommend often. Mark Miller called for added baker's yeast in this recipe. We omitted the yeast, and found the bread rose just fine. We did find the loaves stuck to our banneton, so next time we'll flour that a bit better. We also found that two loaves from this recipe are just too small.

This recipe is for one good sized loaf, or two puny ones.


Volumetric Measure (Cups)IngredientGramsBaker's Percentage (4)
2 CupsDried sour Cranberries (we used "Craisins")240 Grams52.75%
1 CupWater240 Grams52.75%
1 TBSPBrandy (1)14 Grams3.1%
1 1/2 CupsActive Sourdough Starter390 Grams85.7%
1 1/2 CupsWater and cranberry water360 Grams79.1%
3 1/2 CupsBread Flour455 Grams`100%
3/4 CupDutch Process Cocoa Powder75 Grams16.5%
2 tspSalt12 Grams2.6%
1/2 tspFreshly ground black pepper1.2 Grams.26%

  1. The brandy is optional.  We made the bread with and without the brandy and couldn't tell any difference.  So, in the end, we left it out.


Place cranberries, water and (optional) brandy in aCocoa Craisin Bread Nutritional Analysis saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes. Drain the cranberries, reserving the liquid. The way we see it. the water has lots of good flavors in it, so why pour it down the drain? Put in the bread instead! Add enough water to the collected water from the dried fruit to bring the volume up to 1 1/2 cups or 360 Grams.

Place the starter, water, and dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook. Knead it in the mixer for 5 minutes, let it rest 5 minutes and then knead 5 minutes more.  The dough should be smooth, silky and elastic.  This bread is a bit of a mess, so we usually mix it in a mixer to contain the cocoa powder mess.

Add the drained cranberries to the dough, and continue kneading until the cranberries are evenly distributed. This may take some hand kneading to complete.

Put the dough into an oiled bowl,and turn the dough to cover it. Cover again with shower cap, or clingwrap. Allow to rise in warm place until approximately doubled.

Punch down, turn out onto lightly floured work area. Sprinkle a baking sheet with some whole wheat flour, then gently pull and stretch the dough into a round loaf (or two small loaves).

Cover with shower caps or clingwrap and allow to rise until approximately doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425F. This will take around an hour with the baking stones in place. Uncover, slash, and slide the bread into the oven. Pour a cup or so of hot water into the bottom of the oven and bake the bread 40 to 45 minutes. Cool on a rack and enjoy!

Cinnamon-Clove Honey:

A nice spread for Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread, and also really nice in tea if you're suffering a cold or flu.

Heat one cup(340 Grams) of wildflower honey to a simmer. Add 2 tsp(12 Grams) ground cinnamon and 1/2 tsp(1.1 Grams) ground cloves.

Turn off heat, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Pour into a clean glass jar and refrigerate.

We added two pieces of cinnamon bark to give it a bit more "zip".

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