The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


smasty's picture

Oh my, oh my, oh my.  I finally made Shiao Ping's Chocolate Sourdough.  Let me first say, SP--you really need to publish a cookbook.  It would be full of great recipes and fun, witty stories.  I thank you so much for bringing us this recipe.  Words just don't describe how good this is.  "Epic" is a good starting place...kudos to your son.  I made this as written.  All I had in the pantry were milk chocolate chips (large chips, about double the size of the regular bittersweet chips).  The biggest challenge I had was chips popping out of the dough as it was folded...I just poked them back in. The crumb is delectable...light, fluffy, but substantial at the same time.  Nice crunch to the crust, but delicate as well.  All my SD breads have used a 125% starter, so I needed to convert my liquid levain to a semi-stiff levain for this recipe.  This makes 4 nice-sized loaves.  Perfect for sharing!  This is just so incredible...everyone needs to make it!!

Shiao Ping's Chocolate SD Page

Shiao-Ping's picture

What do you do when you bought the wrong grapes and your children and house guests don't eat them?  I don't mind the odd seeds in the grapes; I chew them and swallow them.  They are good for you.  Plenty of anti-oxidant in the grape seeds!  But do you think I can get my family to eat these beautiful grapes? 

Holiday seasons at our household seem to come with endless sessions of drinking every day.  When the sun is setting and the western sky is showing multiple rosy hues, it's time to have a dip in the pool and put on fresh clean clothes for the nightly drinks.  The housewife of this household is ever ready to put on an Hors d'œuvre or two to go with the wine. 

Grapes are the best friend to accompany cheeses.  So as the succulent juicy cherries!  How often do you get to eat them?  I don't know about you, but where I come from, cherries are decadent.  After many years of draught in Queensland (Australia), we have just had a bumper year of rain.  The draught seems to have broken.  What seemed to be expensive fruits in prior years are now very cheap.

Anyway, the long and the short was I had too much of grapes and cherries in my household.  So what did I do?  I made them into a fresh grapes and cherries sourdough:




My son had her girl friend visiting for the day.  The shape of the sourdough is for him but the taste combination is for her.  I used a brotform that I have which has a boy playing soccer engraved on the bottom of the basket to get the stencil effect on the crust.




Unfortunately, cherries and grapes sourdough is not a boy's thing.  My son didn't like it.  But both his girl friend and I loved it.  She said it is very "springy," and she is right.  




The making of this pain au levain was a bit tedious but I enjoyed it.  

(1) First, I pureed 1/2 kg of non-seedless purple grapes (skin, seeds, and all), put the pulp through a fine sieve and got 345 grams of grape juice.  I let this stand overnight along side my starter which was refreshed.  (I secretly hoped that some yeasts might develop out of the grape juice.  A long while ago I cultured a grape starter.  It was very powerful.  I had to put it to sleep by making it into dry powder.  I haven't used it since.)

(2) I took the stones out of 160 grams of cherries and got 145 grams of small diced pieces.

(3) I chopped up 160 grams of green seedless grapes.

(4) The next morning, I was ready to mix the dough.  I had a sip of the grape juice and found that it was too sweet to use all of it.  Too bad.  I had wanted to use it to color my dough.  The little beasties in my starter might drawn and die of thirst if I used all of it; who knows.  I ended up using only 200 grams.

(5) I aimed for a dough of 65% overall hydration before the fresh fruits were added.  Once the fruits were incorporated, the overall dough hydration would increase as some liquid would be squeezed out during the mixing and folding.  




Here is my list of ingredients :

  • 338 g ripe 60%-hydration starter

  • 50 g medium rye flour

  • 100 g whole wheat flour

  • 553 g bread flour

  • 267 g water

  • 18 g salt

  • 200 g purple grape juice (as above)

  • 145 g diced cherries (as above)

  • 160 g diced green seedless grapes (as above)

Total dough weight was 1830 g and the overall dough hydration felt like 72 - 73%.  (Note:  if your starter is 75% or 100% hydration, reduce water to 237 g or 198 g, respectively.)

  1. Mix all ingredients except the fruits.  Autolyse 30 minutes.

  2. First set of stretch and folds of 20 - 30 strokes.  Rest 30 - 45 minutes.

  3. Spread 1/2 of the cut fruits on a work bench, stretch the dough to cover the fruits, then top the dough with the remaining fruits.  Fold the fruits into the dough with a plastic scraper or by hand (50 - 60 strokes). 

  4. Rest 30 minutes.  As some liquid is squeezed out of the fruits, the dough is now wetter and may require two more stretch and folds of at least 30 - 40 strokes for further dough strength.

  5. The rest of the procedure is standard.  (As my room temperature was warm, total fermentation time was slightly less than 4 hours.  I retarded the shaped dough overnight in the fridge and baked it the next morning.)


I recognized something very similar in the crumb structure of this bread as in the Pain au Levain with Praline Rose that I did in mid October.   I think the presence of a relatively high level of sweetness in both cases resulted in very open interior structure.  The little yeast beasties really liked what I fed them in the final dough.  They were able to digest the foods (the sugar) and, you know what, the bread did not taste sweet at all!  In fact, this bread tastes pleasantly sour (apart from being very "springy;" i.e., chewy, as my son's girl friend said).  This sourness to me is not like the normal acidity that we get in a very sour dourdough.  It is different from when we say a Miche is sour.  To me it is halfway in between lactic acidity and fruity sourness. 

(Where has the sugar gone?)



txfarmer's picture

I posted a thread last week about my failure at sourdough pandoro, I tried again this weekend (going through the whole sweet starter babysitting again!), and got much better results this time! Last time I added butter too fast and the dough collapsed, this time I made sure that butter was added a bit at a time, and my mixer was at speed 1 (slowest setting) when mixing in butter. I still lost some gluten after mixing in the butter (the windowpane test was weaker than before the butter was added), but after several folds, the dough was strong enough.The real interesting part was the final proofing. OMG, it took forever. I followed Foolishpoolish's great recipe, and he indicated 12 hours for the final rise. I put it at room temperature for the first 6 hours, nothing. Moved to my oven and turned pilot light on (so it's about 85F inside) for the evening, after 10 hours (and I actually woke up several times during the night to check it, in fear of overproofing), it still shy of reaching the top of the mold. I had to go to meet my workout partner at that point. Didn't want to risk overproofing, I moved the baby again to room temperature. 3 hours later I got home, it's reached the top of the mold but not domed over, and it's been 19 hours! At that point, I had to leave the house soon, so I went ahead and baked it.

All turned out well, it got enough of a boost in the oven

Gotta say, after one bite of the bread, I thought all this trouble of keepig the sweet starter, multiple long fermentations, hours of mixing, endless waiting were all worthwhile! The taste and crumb was rich but INCREDIBLY light and airy and soft. 


Thank you, FP for you great recipe here:

Several notes:

-I did add cocoa butter, which I found at Whold Foods, cosmetic aisle;

-I used 550g of dough in my 9 cup pandoro pan(here:

-After last week's failure, I halved the recipe this time, what a mistake. The bread was devoured in <2 hours after it's cooled. Much shorter than any of the rising time!

-I made extra dough into little muffin sized rolls. Not as good as the big pandoro one, too much crust, not enough soft airy crumb.

-In order to keep up with the sweet starter, I pulled desperate measures like putting it in a cooler and bring it to work, then add a cup of hot water inside. I got funny questions and looks when I fed the starter.

-Now I want to try the sourdough Pannetone recipe!


dmsnyder's picture

Two old friends ...

Vermont Sourdough

My scoring was inspired by Shiao-Ping's most recent miche.

Vermont Sourdough Crumb

San Joaquin Sourdough

San Joaquin Sourdough crumb

Now, the difficult decision: Which to use for our dungeness crab sandwiches for dinner. Aha! My wife has spoken: "Both!"


LIsaatthecoop's picture

As I read the latest copy of Saveur magazine I was happy to see that one of their 100 Picks for 2009 (made by readers this year) was for being a great resource for bakers. I am new to this group, but am excited to see so many people enthusiastic about what some would see as a simple reaction between yeast, flour, water and salt... but we know to be a miracle. Congratulations Fresh Loaf!


droidman's picture


I had lunch with a friend in Minneapolis at an establishment called The French Meadow Bakery. I had bacon and eggs, which was served with a couple slices of toasted sourdough. The bread was like a typical sourdough, but had a hint of caraway.

It's listed on the menu as organic sourdough toast. No mention of caraway. Perhaps it was just stored next to a caraway rye. In any case, I decided that I would try to make a sourdough that has all the wonderful characteristics of a standard sourdough, but with a subtle taste of rye and hint of caraway.

I got the initial formula from Flo Makanai:

Here's my first shot.


150 g whole rye
150 g water
75 g white starter @ 75% hydration

305 g barm
610 g water
915 g flour
22 g salt
5 g caraway seeds

Barm allowed to rise overnight (approximately 18 hrs).

Dough very soft and sticky. Kneaded for 15 minutes.

Initial fermentation in greased bowl for 5 hours.

Proofed in two bannetons for 90 minutes.

Baked in 500 degree oven (my oven sucks, so it's more like 425-450) with steam pan on stone for 30 minutes.


This produced a loaf that was sourdough dense, but still had a nice open crumb. It turned out to be oddly shaped because the bread stuck to my peel when I was sliding it onto the stone. The bread is slightly grey in color, due to the rye in the barm. Flavorwise, sourness in evidence, but some of it gets swept away by the caraway. I used caraway seeds I bought from Bob's Red Mill, and they are the most intense caraway I've ever come across. I want the caraway tones to be more subtle than this.


Next Time

For Take 2, I'm going to try BRM light rye, and scale back the caraway to 3 grams.

And, one of these days, gotta try this one: Wow.

Shiao-Ping's picture

My daughter left today for Belgium to start a six week (French speaking) holiday and visiting our family friends over there.  A couple of days ago I asked if there's anything she'd like me to make before she goes.  She said, "Something familiar."  I can take the hint.  Recently, I have been experimenting with rye flour and my family are not very impressed with the result.  One rye bread came out really dense and as I was mumbling why this bread is so dense, my husband said, "Don't throw it out."  "What made you think I would?" I asked.  He said, "History."  I have had a bad track record in littering. 

Anyway, as I said, I can take the hint from my daughter.  I made this good old House Miche, or Daily Bread, for our lunch yesterday.  "House Miche" - doesn't it sound glamorous?  It sounds really lovely, I might add.  I took the term from a post by Jeremy of Stir The Pots in the Australian Sourdough Companion, back in 2005!  Jeremy's sourdough making history certainly goes a long way back (or, put another way, Sourdough Companion goes a long way back). 

Well, here it is, our House Miche, a simple formula with a simple procedure:




My Formula

  • 230 g starter at 60% hydration * Note

  • 100 g whole wheat flour (20% of final dough flour, or 15% of total dough flour)

  • 400 g white bread flour (sometimes I do 50 g rye flour and 350 g white bread flour)

  • 378 g water * Note

  • 12 g salt

Total dough weight 1120 g; overall dough hydration 72%.

* Note: If your starter is at 75% or 100% hydration, you can reduce your water to 355 g or 328 g, respectively, and still keep the same overall dough hydration.




  1. Mix all ingredients.  Autolyse 30 to 45 minutes.  

  2. Depending on your room temperature, over the next 2 - 3 hours, stretch and folds 3 - 4 times with 20 - 30 strokes each time. 

  3. Pre-shape, rest for 15 - 20 minutes, and shape.  (If the dough does not appear to have enough dough strength, pre-shape twice with 15 - 20 minutes rest in between, but be mindful of the time elapsed as it all counts towards the total fermentation time.)

  4. Depending on your room temperature, proof for no more than 1/2 - 1 hour.  (As my room temperature was 28 C, from the time my ingredients were mixed, to the time the shaped dough was placed into the fridge, it was no more than 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  Alternatively, if you want to bake it on the day the dough was made with no overnight retardation, proofing can be up to 2 1/2 hours.) 

  5. Place the shaped dough in the fridge for a minimum of 8 -12 hours.  (Note: an 8 - 12 hours overnight retardation in the fridge is equivalent to an extra two hours of proofing in the room temperature!)  Bake with steam at 240C for the first 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 220C and bake for a further 20 minutes.




My daughter loved it.  When she returns in mid February, she will start a new phase in her life - say goodbye to school and start university.  She will be ready for more independence and responsibility. 

Until then, our son gets the full attention of both his mummy and daddy.  How good is that, he says.



                            Roast beef and salad sourdough sandwich for our boy - a mid-morning snack



dmsnyder's picture

In addition to the Greek bread, about which I wrote yesterday, I made a couple of pizzas while visiting with family this week. I used the pizza dough formula in Hamelman's bread, but used Pivetti typo 00 flour from, made the dough with sourdough rather than commercial yeast, and did all the mixing by hand. 

Ham & Pineapple Pizza 

Chanterelle, Crimini, Leek, Olive, Mozzarella and Parmesan Pizza


Jonathan & Glenn watching Pizza TV

The chopped veggies were for the fab barbecued turkey gumbo brother Glenn made for dinner. The pizzas were just an appetizer.


yogajan's picture

Years ago I stopped making New Years resolutions.  All that ever resulted was a big measure of guilt because I couldn't usually get beyond 24 hours without breaking them.  One of the problems with previous years resolutions, is that they usually involved a diet.  And, as we know, most diets treat bread that an evil that is to be totally avoided for fear of ever losing weight. 

Now I am older, (age 71) and while not particularly slender, I am comfortable with my weight  and am in perfect health and feel great, mostly because of regular yoga practice.  My only rule (resolution) is to eat only good tasting food, eat only when I am hungry and to enjoy good food.  In that vein, I am taking baking my own bread very seriously. While there is a lot written of bread as a metaphor for life, my own goals are more simple, enjoyment of creating something, applying science to a skill and simply eating something good.

My shelves are bending with bread books, my cupboards are full with flours, implements, and I have bookmarked every bread site I can find.  Now, I need to get it all organized and get to work/play and get serious with the bread thing. 

Even though I am starting this on New Years Day 2010, I will be posting about some other recent and incredibly fun experiences.





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