The Fresh Loaf

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100% sourdough Chocolate Prunes Bread

txfarmer's picture

100% sourdough Chocolate Prunes Bread

I have done Italian Chocolate Bread using the SFBI recipe before, as well as the Nancy Silverton version recently  ( ), they were good, so good that I want to create my own version, combining good points of both recipes, and use wild  starter only. I was warned that with this much cocoa powder and add-ins, the bread could be too dense without instant yeast, but I know several people here have successfully done 100% sourdough chocolate breads before, so I decide to give it a try. I've been playing with my 60% starter recently with good results, so that's what I used here, but I think you can use any starter successfully.


Makes 2x750g breads

-Levain Build

active 60% starter, 40g

water, 120g

bread flour, 200g


1.   mix and knead into a dough, fermentate at room temperature (24C) for 8 to 12 hours, until reaching peak volume, starting to collapse (mine rose to about 4x of original size).

-Final dough

water, 340g

Levain Build from above

cocoa powder, 50g

honey, 50g

butter, 35g, soften

bread flour, 430g

salt, 12g

prune, 150g, chopped roughly

70%bitter sweet chocolate, 150g, chopped roughly


2.   mix everything but prune and chocolate, knead until gluten is well developed

3.   flatten dough into a rectangle, scatter prune and chocolate on in, roll up, fold many times until they are evenly distributed. Try not to have too many chocolate/prune on the surface.

4.   bulk rise for 4 hours at 24C. Didn't do S&F since the dough was well developed already, and I want an even soft crumb, not an irregular holy one.

5.   divide, round, and rest for 15 minutes.

6.   shape into boule or batards. the boule was proofed for 100 minutes (I thought it would take longer, but it was definitely ready by 100min), the batard was put into fridge immediately after shaping, took out about 12 hours later, proofed for 1 hour.

7.   oven is preheated to 500F, but adjusted down to 400F after breads are loaded. bake for 50min, the first 15 with steam.


No dense crumb there! The rise during fermentation, proof and baking was more than I can hope for. I like how that little bit of honey and butter make the crumb very soft and spongy, contrast nicely with the chewy crust, chocolate and prune.

Prune goes well with chocolate, I have seen them paired together in cakes and desserts, equally tasty here. However, I am sure the bread would be tasty (but different) if I swap out prune with cherry, nuts, or even more chocolate (maybe some milk choc? or even white choc?).

Very happy with this attempt, I am sure I will bake it often for gifts and ourselves.


wally's picture

especially when I read "Chocolate Prune Bread"!  It just didn't sound appetizing at all.  But .... your pictures show otherwise!


txfarmer's picture

Prune's got a little bit of reputation problem, doesn't it? In fact, it's a very yummy sour-sweet dried plum, goes well with chocolate. I saw a prune brownie recipe the other day, sounds odd, but the picture looked delicioius, and the author said it's very rich and deliciouis.

LindyD's picture

I'll have to admit that I have a timid palate when it comes to putting chocolate and prunes in bread - but your photos are gorgeous.

It is served as a dessert bread?

txfarmer's picture

It's actually not that sweet. For my friends and family who don't like desserts too sweet, this is a perfect after dinner sweet treat, but it's also great as a tea time snack, or even breakfast.

hutchndi's picture

but why?

txfarmer's picture

Because why not? ;)

In case you are serious, this combo is actually not that rare. I've seen it in ABin5 and other books, but those were made as pan loaves. Also as I wrote in my post, both Italian chocolate bread and chocolate sour cherry bread are very popular in US bakeries.

Perhaps prune turns you off, but it's actually not unlike raisins, moist ones at that.

hutchndi's picture

Nothin against prunes....

Actually, I am always amazed at the emphisis many posters here put on masking the flavor of sourdough even a little bit. An example of why it surprises me, today I brought a fresh loaf of vermont sourdough with whole wheat into work to share with some co-workers. Every one of them thought it was incredible and asked what secret ingredients were in the recipe.

why hide anything so good on it's own, unless maybe it is not for some reason?

txfarmer's picture

For the same reason, while I like my simple black little dress, I also like my adorned gown with ruffls and sparkles;

while I like a simple camping vacation, I also like a resort experience with all the jazz;

while I like my black coffee, I sometimes crave for a cup of latte;

In foods:

while I like a good steak, I also like beef wellington;

while I like a steam fish dish with just some salt, I also like a fish stew with all the spices;

while I like fragrant rice that takes years of training to master how to cook (I am Asian and I do cook very good rice), sometimes a plate of fried rice with egg and Chinese saugage is just what I want;

Now, in addition to "flavored breads", I also make simple classic sourdough breads. If you look at my blog, you will find baguettes, sandwich breads, sourdough rye breads, miche, etc. But sometimes I like to change it up by combining some extra ingredients. Why does it have to be "hiding" something? Why can't ingredients complement each other? I don't know what you are trying to say with that coworker story (and I hope you don't mean what you sound like). I recently got invited by a coworker to teach him how to back baguette and sourdough breads sine they taste so amazing, yet at the same time, this very loaf of chocolate bread was also very well received by the same crowd. Guess what? I even bake and like breads with lots of butter, and are cottony soft, just like from Asian bakeries! Horror huh? What am I trying to hide under all that butter?

I will never call someone always bake the same bread boring, and I certainly won't want anyone to imply that my baking is somehow inferior just because I like to play with ingredients and pairing. It's a big world, full of different tastes, no one taste is somehow superior. 

I hope you now understand a bit better, if not, maybe look at some classic flavored breads like stollen, focaccia, panettone, etc. What are they hiding?

hutchndi's picture

so the sourdough flavor really shows up under all that fother flavoring? or would it be just as good or better as a cake, which it resembles?

txfarmer's picture

Of course it shows up. I too make chocolate cake, they are different, again, not better or worse. Have you tried sourdough Pandoro? I have a blog post about it. There are a ton of butter in it. And loads of sugar. Even some white chocolate (sharp inhale!). But one bite, both my husband (who's NOT experience in bread tasting) and I (who is familiar with sourdough) can clearly taste the sourdough under note. It's sort of like buttermilk vs. cream, but not really. For the same reason people spend 90 hours to make sourdough panettone - which has ingredients just like a fruit cake.


I am trying to give you the benefit of doubt, but really have to say your comments come off incredibly condescending. I've been called a "sourdough snob", but I would never be that judgemental, especially on something I've never made/tastes before. I know some baker who concentrate on baking one kind of sourdough, satisfied with playing with flour choice and fermentation, I think it's great, and I admire their techniques. I've also known great bakers who play with ingredients, even shapes, in addition to flour and fermentation, I am not that much of a snob to look down to them. Instead I admire their skills too. There are lots to be learned in the world, just because I am not interested in learning something, doesn't mean it's not worth learning or doing.


I just hope something's lost in the communicating, and I've mis-understood you.

hutchndi's picture

You probably have not misunderstood me, I am pretty snobby about sourdough. I have a an early learning curve in my sourdough beginnings where I added many ingredients to my breads to try to make them more special, as back then, my sourdough breads were not much better than regular yeasted breads. After allot of urging from helpful bakers, I was pursuaded to start fresh and try to discover what I was missing. Once getting better at coaxing flavor from sourdough and discovering how delicious it can be on its own, I have shunned anything that would mask the flavor. So yes, I am one of "those".

That said, I am sure that your chocolate prune creation is delicious, as are many of the combinations posted here. The fact that I can not imagine myself bothering to make it with sourdough instead of some other method of making a similar item may well be my loss.  


txfarmer's picture

You probably have not misunderstood me[...]So yes, I am one of "those".

There are "sourdough/bread snobs", and there are "real snobs". The former, I have no problem being one or meeting one, just like a lot of people here - it's usually just a way of saying we appreciate good bread, I will wear and share that title with pride. The latter however, I thrive never to be one - it's a sign of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. The difference between the two is to live/bake the way I want/like to, yet at the same time appreciate and respect other styles and genres. Just like any other things, not one genre of bread is inherently superior than others, it take great skill and effort to be the master of each genre. I am no master, but I enjoy the pursuit, and  admire anyone who makes an effort to make good bread - any kind of good bread.

That said, I am sure that your chocolate prune creation is delicious, as are many of the combinations posted here.

Thank you!

The fact that I can not imagine myself bothering to make it with sourdough instead of some other method of making a similar item may well be my loss. 

Seems we finally can agree on something. I wish you the best in your baking, and I am sure your produce great and delicious breads. I will even join you in the kind of "pure and simple" sourdough baking from time to time (as I always do), meanwhile, I will keep mixing it up from time to time and enjoy my failures and successes along the way.


hutchndi's picture

And the best to you txfarmer. It is unfortunate that every time I see a picture or read an article about chocolate sourdough (really, the prunes don't bother me) that  I always have such an alarming uprising of gastric distress culminating in a climactic explosion of brain flatulance, and I tend to be blinded to the obvious, which is a beautiful loaf created by skilled baker. While any thought of chocolate in my sourdough may be too much for my small mind to handle, I must admit that your baking efforts (and your replies) have awakened a long pent up desire to attempt an anchovey sourdough garlic fougasse. I know that is nothing new, but something I have never tried and would be very interested in, and for some reason does not offend my sensabilities though possibly my wifes. I can only hope that when I do find a recipe for it that I may want to try, my results are anywhere near as good as yours.

Hopefully I will never see a chocolate anchovy anything though. ;)

txfarmer's picture

Ha ha ha ha. Wow. See now I am getting ideas, maybe chocolate anchovy sourdough with prunes and tofu? Lots of garlic and onion of course. ....


Don't worry, I am kidding. Sort of. Maybe. ;)

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Why not! It looks wonderful. Why not use sourdough? I'd think the flavors would be terrific with prunes and chocolate. I can't understand why someone would have an issue with it. If they don't want to bake it then don't. They can continue to bake their white sourdough bread.

ehanner's picture

Thank you for posting your creative efforts txfarmer. I enjoyed following the thought process to arrive at a very good looking bread.

Please pay no attention to the rude and uninspired comments of a member who should know better. This is a place for exploring creativity. You have a history of bold exploration and excellent results.

Thank you for a wonderful post.


txfarmer's picture

Appreciate you support. The reason I like TFL is that there are so many different styles and ideas here, I constantly feel inspired (a lot of times by your baking!), so I will no doubt continue to try new things.