The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

San Joaquin Sourdough with Dark Chocolate and Walnuts

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

San Joaquin Sourdough with Dark Chocolate and Walnuts

One of my favorite sourdough variations is inspired by a combination of the classic blue cheese and walnut sourdough (which I've never made because I don't like blue cheese) and a twisted sourdough with chunks of dark chocolate that I got from a bakery in Chelsea Market in Manhatten on a family vacation some years back. The combination: sourdough with dark chocolate and walnuts.

It's best as a breakfast bread: a little too sweet for dinner, but too bread-y for dessert. The dark chocolate is overpowering when melted, so the trick is to bake it the night before you want to eat it, and let it cool overnight so the chocolate hardens. The taste is delectable: the sour of the bread and the chewiness of the crust combines with the crunchy nuts, and the bitter-sour flavors of the dark chocolate, all infused with the walnut oil.

I've made it with several different sourdough formulas, but last night I baked up a batch based on David Snyder's famous San Joaquin Sourdough, to good effect.

Formula: (All credit goes to dmsnyder's post here)

  • 450g King Arthur AP flour (90%)
  • 25g WW Flour (5%)
  • 25g Whole Rye Flour (5%)
  • 150g Active Starter at 100% hydration (30%)
  • 360g Water (72%)
  • 10g Salt (2%)
  • 125g Coursely chopped walnuts (or broken by hand) (25%)
  • 100g Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips (20%) (ideal for their shape, and for being excellent chocolate a a bargain price)
  1. Mix flours, water and starter (David likes to mix the water and starter first; I don't know if it matters).  Autolyze 20-60 minutes.
  2. Add salt, walnuts and chocolate, then do 30 stretch-and-folds in the bowl.
  3. Cover tightly and ferment 3 hours at room temperature.  Repeat the stretch-and-folds in the bowl at 30, 60 and 90 minutes, then a french-fold on the board at 135 and 180 minutes.
  4. Place in refrigerator for 18-21 hours.  
  5. Remove dough from refrigerator, divide in half and pre-shape as rounds.  Allow to rest 1 hour.
  6. Shape as batards or boules, and place in a couche or banneton, as appropriate.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees with baking stone.  
  7. Proof loaves 45 minutes, then transfer to parchment on a sheet pan/peel, score and load in oven.  Steam using your favorite method, and lower temperature to 460.  
  8. Bake 30 minutes, turning loaves and removing any steaming apparatus after 15.  Turn off oven and crack the door for 5 minutes, then remove loaves to a cooling rack.  Cool at least 8 hours before eating.


PiPs's picture

Walnut breads are one of my biggest weaknesses...and with the chocolate these look especially dangerous.

Really nice. I tend to get alot more purple streaking in my doughs when using walnuts...yours seems quite clean.

Do you ever toast/roast the walnuts before mixing?

Cheers, Phil 

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

You know you want to try it... ;)

I usually get more streaking as well. Although I typically do the proportion of nuts called for above (25% of the flour), for this batch I ran out of nuts, and used about 60g of walnuts and 40g of pecans. Both were on the old side, which may explain the shortage of walnut oil stains (which I find quite attractive.

I've not tried, roasting; might be worth a try some time.

dmsnyder's picture

I can't believe I've actually never made the SJSD with walnuts, and I love sourdough walnut bread. I'll have to try this. I'll think about the chocolate. My wife and I are both chocoholics, but I've not enjoyed the chocolate sourdoughs I've had.

Your loaves are beautiful and look delicious, Ryan. 

Has your daughter been introduced to chocolate yet? (I advise holding the nuts until she's 2 years old, both to avoid developing allergies and to avoid aspiration.)


pmccool's picture

Maybe a little too decadent for my breakfast tastes but it sure does look good.  I'd be tempted to take it in the dessert direction.  There's a winery on Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula, just north of Traverse City, that produces a blend of cherry brandy and cherry wine which is fabulous with dark chocolate.  I believe the winery's name is Chantal and the drink is named Cerise.  My thought is that your bread and a glass of Cerise would be a match made in heaven.


Syd's picture

Looks excellent!


wally's picture

And just a tad caloric. But a great combination. I've made loaves with walnuts and walnuts and raisins, but never thought to go the chocolate route.

Nice bake,

breadsong's picture

Hello Ryan,
What a lovely creation you have here :^)
I love Paul's suggestion to pair this with a fortified cherry wine...!
Your post is saved in my favorites...can't wait to try making this.
:^) from breadsong