Chocolate No-Knead Bread

chocolate no-knead bread

Chocolate bread is nature’s perfect food. Bread is basic nourishment for the body, while chocolate is nourishment for the soul. Think of pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) and chocolate toast, which prove that chocolate and dough just go together.

When I was a teenager, I saw Martha Stewart make chocolate bread from Balthazar Bakery. It was real artisan bread, not a muffin, with Valrhona cocoa powder and chocolate chunks. It sounded so naughty, yet so good.

When I moved to New York and finally tried that coveted bread, I was disappointed. While it was carefully crafted, the dough tasted bitter and wasn’t chocolaty enough for me. Fortunately, Au Bon Pain had crusty chocolate-cherry-walnut bread, and Fresh Direct distributed Ecce Panis’ bake-at-home chocolate rolls. When the rolls were fresh out of the oven, the chocolate oozed out of the feathery insides. (Note: Au Bon Pain no longer makes chocolate bread, and Fresh Direct only has chocolate bread pudding now. Boo!)

Since chocolate bread is going extinct, I compiled recipes from reputable sources, such as Balthazar, Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery, and the Institute of Culinary Education. I then made a lazy version by throwing cocoa and sugar into Sullivan Street Bakery’s famous no-knead bread recipe.

This is dessert for breakfast. I love toasting this bread, slathering on peanut butter and sprinkling bittersweet chocolate on top. The chocolate immediately melts into sweet lava. S’more sandwiches, filled with graham crackers and marshmallows, are especially good.

I realize that people are trying to eat healthily since it’s New Year’s, but this bread isn’t that bad for you. It’s low-fat, has a fair amount of fiber and has a little more sugar than commercial bread (and fortunately no high-fructose corn syrup).

For more no-knead bread, try my 100% whole wheat variation.

Chocolate No-Knead Bread

The sugar makes this bread chewy and moist, but it’s not too sweet for a good old peanut butter sandwich. If possible, use the metric measurements, as they’re more accurate.

Adapted from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

2 1/3 cups (287 grams) all-purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup more for dusting
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (143 grams) whole wheat flour (recommended brand: King Arthur)
1/3 cup (31 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably natural process (not Dutch-processed)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (75 g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant yeast (or 1/4 plus 1/16 teaspoon active dry yeast*)
1 ¼ teaspoons (8 grams) salt
Scant 1 3/4 cups (387 grams) water
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
1 tablespoon milk, for brushing
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1. In a large bowl combine the flours, cocoa powder, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Add the water and stir until blended. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Liberally flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Brush the top of the loaf with milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1 1/2-pound loaf.

Variation:

Double chocolate-cherry-walnut bread: After the first rise, pat the dough into a large rectangle on a well-floured surface. Sprinkle 1/3 cup each of good chocolate chunks; toasted, chopped walnuts; and dried cherries on top. From left to right, fold 1/3 of the dough over like a book. Fold over the other side of the dough and pat down into a tall rectangle. From top to bottom, fold 1/3 of the dough down. Fold the remaining bottom 1/3 to meet the top. Using your fingers or the heel of your hand, pinch the seams closed. Continue on with step 3 and let rise until double (it may take longer than the usual two hours, because of the weight of the mix-ins).

Notes:

  • * If substituting active dry yeast, proof it in 1/4 cup of lukewarm water (reserved from the total water) for 10 minutes. Add the yeast with the rest of the water when mixing it in the dough.
  • To make a sandwich loaf, turn out the dough on a floured board after the first rise. Gently pat the dough into a 5-by-9 inch rectangle and roll up the length of the dough. Pinch the seam closed with your fingertips or the heel of your hand. Rock the dough to even it out. Cover it with an inverted mixing bowl and let rise, seam side down, for about two hours. A half hour before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan inside. When ready to bake, brush the pan with oil and generously dust with corn meal or wheat bran. Drop the dough in the pan, seam side up (it’s okay if it looks messy). Shake the pan to even out the dough. Brush the top with milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Cover the loaf loosely with aluminum foil (leave room on top for the dough to rise) and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15-30 minutes more.

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21 Comments »

  1. Katie said,

    Ohhh chocolate bread – yummy. I love the sound of the cherry and walnut additions. I’m going to have to try this out myself. Happy New Year!

    January 2, 2008 at 2:54 pm

  2. Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said,

    Thanks, Katie! I love chocolate-cherry bread too, but if you add them in, it won’t be so healthy anymore.

    January 3, 2008 at 9:34 pm

  3. Indigo said,

    This is the sort of breakfast I can get excited over ^__^ Definitely beats bran flakes…

    January 5, 2008 at 9:01 am

  4. JEP said,

    OMG—this sounds sooo good! I have never had a successful yeast bread yet…I will have a friend make this for me!

    January 5, 2008 at 7:41 pm

  5. Cakespy said,

    Oh baby, I was disappointed by Balthazar’s version, but this looks really, really good!

    January 21, 2008 at 12:35 am

  6. JUDIE said,

    Can’t wait to try this one. Best (and first) chocolate bread I had was from Ecce Panis on 3rd Avenue near 67th in the ’90′s.

    January 23, 2008 at 10:08 am

  7. Sabrina said,

    Let’s say all I have is dutch processed, but I really want to make this without going back to the store. Would there be recommended alterations?

    January 24, 2008 at 11:13 am

  8. Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said,

    Sabrina, Dutch-processed cocoa will be fine (although I prefer the flavor of natural process). The only time you’ll run into trouble is if a recipe has baking soda or baking powder. The leavenings react to the pH in the cocoa, and natural cocoa is more acidic.

    January 24, 2008 at 1:33 pm

  9. Tina said,

    I’m interested to see how this will turn out. A suggestion though, when you write the recipe out, perhaps making that asterisk a little bigger next to the active dry yeast and actually using it would be helpful. I looked all over the place to see what was up and only read the notes section AFTER I combined the dry ingredients. It would be helpful.

    January 24, 2008 at 6:55 pm

  10. Nick said,

    This looks really, really, really, really good. I love chocolate and peanut butter combo, that’s why I am the Peanut Butter Boy. I’ve never really baked a bread though, would you know how to possibly exchange some of the regular flour for something more nutritious, such as oat flour, wheat bran or perhaps whole wheat pastry flour? Thank you!

    - The Peanut Butter Boy

    February 29, 2008 at 5:46 pm

  11. Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said,

    Nick, what a great concept, a PB blog! I’m not sure about about your peach-PB-bran muffin combo, but maybe I’ll give it a try. The recipe above uses 1/3 whole wheat flour. If you use more whole grain flour, add 1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten for every cup of flour. Otherwise, the loaf will not rise properly. Feel free to substitute other whole grain flours, but not pastry flour, because it’s low in gluten. (Gluten gives bread its structure.)

    March 8, 2008 at 11:40 pm

  12. Laura said,

    Im curious about the baking process: pre-heating the dutch oven and baking with a cover at 450 is nothing Ive ever done with bread before. Im wondering if this can just be baked in a loaf pan? Would the rise or the texture be completely different?

    May 26, 2008 at 11:24 am

  13. Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said,

    Laura, yes, you can bake in a loaf pan. The crust won’t be quite as thick and crackly. For instructions, scroll to the bottom of the recipe, under Notes.

    May 26, 2008 at 9:42 pm

  14. Laura said,

    Got it. Sorry, I should have seen that in the notes! I used the dutch oven and the crust burnt around the edges (not the top). But I LOVE the bread – added chopped dried cherries and chunks of chocolate :) Coincidentally Alton Brown had a show last night about baking bread in a pre-heated dutch oven and used a slightly lower temp, which maybe I will try next time. It’s wonderful though,Thanks!

    May 27, 2008 at 3:53 pm

  15. Christina said,

    This sounds insanely delicious! I made cocoa buns (yeast) the other day and my dad loved it, so I’ll be bookmarking this recipe to make for him later.

    September 21, 2008 at 2:49 pm

  16. Barbara said,

    I was skeptical at first because I have not had great luck with the no-knead recipes. Usually the crust is too hard and the bread too chewy. I think it’s the milk wash that made the difference. Maybe I just finally got the process right this time and need (pun not intended) to go back to try the basic recipe.

    This recipe worked great. After the first rise I made a big square out of the dough, sprinkled it heavily with Pecans, and then folded it over on itself to make a "loaf like" shape. This was a compromise between plain chocolate bread and double cherry chocolate that seems more like a dessert. I also did not sprinkle the top with sugar, just to make it less like a sweet treat. It came out brown, dense, and totally satisfying for breakfast.

    Thanks for this recipe!

    October 25, 2009 at 10:23 am

  17. sk said,

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. The dough seems much less wet than I was expecting for a no-knead. Is that to be expected?

    March 4, 2010 at 2:43 am

  18. Eileen said,

    Recently I have been making the no knead bread (two cups all purpose, 1 cup white whole wheat) recipe from Sullivan Street Bakery with the addition of 6 oz of chocolate chips. I put them in right at the beginning just before finishing the mixing of the shaggy dough. The bread looks a little messy (on the inside) because some of the chocolate streaks the bread. Most of the chips retain their basic shape, but in our opinion, the taste is fantastic. I used to make chocolate bread with coco powder years ago, but I find this bread far more chocolate flavored than bread with chocolate powder. There may be better recipes for chocolate bread out there, but for the zero amount of work this requires, it is a great and simple recipe.

    December 8, 2010 at 9:12 am

  19. Michelle said,

    CAn white whole wheat be used for all of the fourse since I don’t buy reg. all purpose, will the four amounts be the same?
    Thanks

    April 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm

  20. Michelle said,

    I meant flours sp.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm

  21. Judy said,

    Thanks for the recipe. I tried it, and found it tastes good with humus. It’s very much reminds me of pumpernickel bread–which has cocoa and coffee in it.

    November 24, 2012 at 11:29 pm

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