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Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread

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This hearty cranberry sourdough bread is made even more decadent with the addition of dark chocolate. This recipe delivers a rustic cranberry bread that’s soft, chewy, slightly sweet and a little tart. In summary, it’s delicious!

loaf of sourdough bread on white counter with white background.

Baking sourdough bread is not a fast process, but patience is a virtue! Most of the time is spent hands off, and I promise the results are worth it! Our chocolate cranberry sourdough bread recipe is as delicious as it is versatile. In the morning, I like my chocolate cranberry bread with a fresh cup of coffee, toasted and slather it in butter. Then in the evening, it pairs beautifully with a glass of white wine and fancy cheese.

This rustic sourdough bread makes a great housewarming gift for neighbors and friends, and the cranberries give me major holiday vibes!

How to Make a Sourdough Starter

If you are just getting started with your sourdough journey, you might read the recipe below and think what is a sourdough starter and how do I get it?

Put simply, a sourdough starter is what makes sourdough bread rise. Instead of using active dry yeast like in other bread recipes, a leavening agent composed of fermented flour and water uses natural occurring yeasts and bacteria makes the bread rise.

There are a few ways to get a sourdough starter. You can ask a friend who keeps a starter for a 1/4 cup or so of theirs, you can buy it online, or make your own.

While it’s not difficult to make your own sourdough starter from scratch, it does take some time. The overall process takes about 7 days (or more).

Check out our sourdough section for more delicious recipes!

Close up of a round bread loaf, cut into on a bread board.

Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread FAQs 

Can I add the cranberries and chocolate later? 

You certainly can. I usually add mine at the beginning of the mixing process. Doing this ensures that all of the ingredients in the bowl are evenly distributed.

Why is my dough not doubling? 

Don’t fret if it doesn’t double like bread made using commercial yeast. Sourdough typically takes longer to rise. It also tends to rise faster in a warm room and slower if it’s in a cold room. I usually put my dough in an oven that’s turned off but has the pilot light on. The oven creates a controlled environment and the pilot light keeps the oven warm.

Can I use fresh cranberries for this recipe? 

Fresh Cranberries tend to be tart. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you don’t mind if your loaf is kind of tart.

Four slices of chocolate cranberry sourdough bread with uncut loaf in the background.

Closeup of Cranberry Chocolate Sourdough Bread on a bread board.

What should my cranberry sourdough bread look like at the end of bulk fermentation?

The dough should have a dome-like shape on its edges, and it should also have almost doubled in size. It should also be jiggly if you shake it.

Why should I use a Dutch oven? 

Dutch ovens are perfect for baking bread at home. They do a great job trapping in the heat and moisture and also form steam. This steam is important because it helps the bread inside the oven rise.

What does chocolate cranberry sourdough bread go with? 

It goes perfectly with white wine, butter, as well as fancy cheese like goat cheese.

Two round loads of bread on a marble counter. One has a X cut while the other has a swirl detail.

Can I use nuts instead of sweet fruit like cranberries? 

Absolutely! You certainly can add slivered almonds, earthy walnuts, or hazelnuts. You can also use dried fruit like berries and raisins instead of cranberries.

Can I substitute the dark chocolate chips for milk or white chocolate?

Of course! If you do, please let me know how it goes in the comments!

What do I do if my crust comes out too dark? 

Reduce the oven temp by 30° the next time you bake your bread. If that still doesn’t help, carefully cover the top of the bread with foil halfway through the baking process.

How can I keep the bread from spreading out after scoring it?

Putting the cranberry chocolate sourdough in the freezer for about 20 minutes will get it firm enough to be scored. It will also help it spread less after being scored.

Slice of cranberry bread with loaf on a bread board.

How do I keep the bottom of the loaf from becoming too dark?

I’d put a baking pan or baking stones on the bottom rack. This will help.

Can I soak the fruits and nuts in water before mixing them into the dough?

Absolutely. All you need to do is soak them in warm water for about 5 minutes and then drain them. You can then mix them into the dough.

Is it okay to add commercial yeast to the dough to speed up the process?

Yes, it’s okay. I would add about ¼ teaspoon to it.

Closeup of round bread load with X detail. Close up of round bread loaf with swirl detail.

Can I freeze cranberry sourdough bread after I make it? 

You totally can. All you need to do is wait for it to cool down completely and then wrap it really tight with plastic wrap. After that, place it in a gallon freezer bag. The bread will keep for 3-4 months.

How do I thaw frozen bread? 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then unwrap the bread and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake it in the preheated oven for 20 minutes and you should be good to go.

What do I do if my dough is too dry or too wet? 

Just add about a tablespoon of water if it’s too wet or a tablespoon of flour if it’s too dry. Add until it gets to the desired consistency.

Cranberry Chocolate Sourdough bread with bread basket on white background.   

Tools Needed for Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread

Large mixing bowl
Plastic wrap
Proofing basket
Wooden spoon
Dutch oven
Bench knife
Wire rack
Kitchen scale
Bread lame with razor blade
Parchment paper
Oven mitts

Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread Baking Timeline

This chocolate cranberry sourdough recipe is best made over the course of two to three days. I highly recommend baking this delicious sourdough bread over a longer time period as the cold rising of the dough adds significant flavor. However, you could also opt to bake the bread over one day.

I provided a sample timeline for the quick bake and a slower and steadier bake below.  The examples below feed the sourdough starter the same day as mixing the ingredients, but for a more flexible timeline, feed the starter the evening before.

Single slice of chocolate cranberry sourdough bread.

How to Make Cranberry & Chocolate Sourdough Bread

Step 1 FEED SOURDOUGH STARTER
7:00 am (Day 1)

Ingredients: 
50g Active sourdough starter
100g Whole wheat flour
100g Room temperature water

Typically your starter will be ready 4-8 hours after feeding. At that point, it will have doubled or tripled in size and have plenty of bubbles on the surface and throughout the culture.

Flour, whole wheat flour, sourdough starter, cranberries, chocolate, water & salt.

Step 2 MIX INGREDIENTS
12:00 pm

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Then, mix the wet ingredients using your hands, a rubber spatula, or a wooden spoon. Make sure all the ingredients are well combined and your dough feels wet and shaggy.

Wet and dry ingredients mixed together in glass bowl. Dough with cranberries and dark chocolate.

Step 3 LET DOUGH REST
12:10 pm

Cover the large bowl with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap. Then let the dough rest at room temperature or in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Step 4 DO A SERIES OF STRETCH & FOLDS
12:40 pm

After 30 minutes, stretch up the North side of the dough and then fold it over its middle. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the stretch and fold around 5 times or until the bowl comes full circle. Cover the bowl with a lid or saran wrap and do a second stretch and fold. Wait 10 minutes then do the last stretch and fold.

This step, known as stretching and folding, is important because it helps add oxygen into the dough. This step also strengthens the gluten in the dough.

Stretching of dough with cranberries and chocolate bits. Dough being folded over in glass bowl.
Dough being folded over in glass bowl.Dough being folded over in glass bowl.

Step 5 LET DOUGH RISE
1:00 pm

Let the dough rise for 2-3 hours at room temperature and then put the chocolate cranberry sourdough bread in the fridge overnight, or for 3 hours. The dough will rise slowly and also develop flavor.

Dough in glass bowl on marble counter. Sourdough with cranberries and chocolate after rising in glass bowl.

Step 6 SHAPE THE DOUGH
6:00 pm / 12:00 pm (Day 2)

On the next day or after 3 hours, lightly flour your work surface and then scoop out the bread dough. Divide the dough in half and then grab one side of the dough. Pull it out so it builds some tension, and gently bring it toward the dough’s center. Be sure to handle the dough gently but firmly so as not to de-gas it. Repeat the same action on the other side of the dough as well as the other two sides.

Cranberry chocolate sourdough bread being shaped on marble counter. Cranberry chocolate sourdough bread being shaped on marble counter.
Dough being shaped on marble counter. Dough being shaped on marble counter.

Step 7 FORM A BALL
6:10 pm / 12:10 pm 

Flip the chocolate cranberry sourdough over so the seam side is down and lightly dust the top of the dough with flour. Seal the seam underneath the dough by cupping the dough with your hands. Rotate the dough using quarter turns in a circular motion while bringing it towards you. This motion will create tension on the surface of the dough and form it into a smooth tight ball.

Cranberry chocolate sourdough formed into a ball on marble counter.

Step 8 DUST THE DOUGH
6:15 pm / 12:15 pm 

Next, dust a bread basket with rice flour or rye flour mixed with all-purpose flour. Dust the top of the ball with flour as well. If you don’t have a bread basket, feel free to use a bowl or loaf pan. Transfer the dough into the basket seam side up. This mixture will help prevent the dough from sticking to the basket.

Two loafs of dough in bread bowls.

Step 9 REST THE DOUGH
6:20 pm / 12:20 pm

Put the dough in the fridge overnight, so it can develop a deeper flavor. You can also put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will make it firm and easy to score (slice) with a razor or bread lame.

Round loaf of cranberry chocolate sourdough in bread bowl with agrey cloth napkin and flour dusted on top.

Step 10 SCORE THE DOUGH
6:40 pm / 9:00 am (Day 2)

Preheat your oven temperature to 450 degrees. Next, flour your work surface and then place the dough on its, seam side down. Slash the top of the dough either at a 45-degree angle or straight down at 1/4 an inch depth using the bread lame or razor.

Dust the inside of the Dutch oven with the flour mix, then place the dough in it and cover it. Do the same for your second dough.

Dough after being etched with a swirl detail.

Step 11 BAKE THE BREAD
6:50 pm / 9:10 am

Return the Dutch oven into your preheated oven and bake the bread until it becomes deep golden brown. This will take about 40 minutes.

Step 12 REST THE BREAD
7:30 pm / 9:50 am

After 40 minutes remove the lid from the dutch oven and then proceed to set the timer for 5 minutes if the cranberry sourdough bread still hasn’t turned deep brown. Keep a close eye on the bread. After it gets to your preferred color remove it with a wooden spoon or spatula and let it cool on a wire rack.

Step 13 DEVOUR THE BREAD
8:30 pm / 10:50 am

Let the bread rest for about 1 hour or 2 before eating it. Bread that’s eaten immediately tends to have a chewy texture. If you really can’t wait, make sure you eat it with melted butter. Bread with melted butter is said to be divine.

Four slices of chocolate cranberry sourdough bread with a loaf and uncut loaf in the background.

I hope you enjoy! If you try my chocolate cranberry sourdough bread recipe, please come back to share using my 5-star rating in the comments below! 

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Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread

5 from 1 vote
Serves | 2 loafs
This sourdough bread recipe pairs chocolate and cranberry for a taste that's decadent, soft, chewy, slightly sweet and a little tart. Pair this delicious cranberry bread with white wine, butter or fancy cheese.
Prep20 mins
Cook40 mins
Resting Time7 hrs
Total 8 hrs

Ingredients
 
 

  • 750 g all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 250 g whole wheat flour
  • 800 g lukewarm water
  • 120 g baking dark chocolate chips
  • 120 g dried cranberries
  • 17 g kosher salt
  • 100 g active starter
Feed sourdough starter
  • 50 g active sourdough starter
  • 100 g whole wheat flour
  • 100 g room temperature water

Instructions
 

  • Feed sourdough starter.
    See ingredients above. Typically your starter will be ready 4-8 hours after feeding. At that point it will have doubled or tripled in size.
  • Mix ingredients.
    In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Then, mix the wet ingredients using your hands, a rubber spatula, or a wooden spoon. Make sure all the ingredients are well combined and your dough feels wet and shaggy. 
  • Let the dough rest.
    Cover the large bowl with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature or in a warm place for about 30 minutes. 
  • Do a series of stretches & folds.
    After 30 minutes, stretch up the North side of the dough and then fold it over its middle. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the stretch and fold around 5 times or until the bowl comes full circle. Cover the bowl with a lid or saran wrap and do a second stretch and fold. Wait 10 minutes then do the last stretch and fold. 
    This step, known as stretching and folding, is important because it helps add oxygen into the dough. This step also strengthens the gluten in the dough. 
  • Let the dough rise.
    Let the dough rise for 2-3 hours at room temperature and then put it in the fridge overnight, or for 3 hours. The dough will rise slowly and develop flavor. 
  • Shape the dough.
    On the next day or after 3 hours, lightly flour your work surface and then scoop out the bread dough. Divide the dough in half and then grab one side of the dough. Pull it out so it builds some tension, and gently bring it toward the dough's center. Be sure to handle the dough gently but firmly so as not to de-gas it. Repeat the same action on the other side of the dough as well as the other two sides. 
  • Form a ball.
    Flip the dough over so the seam side is down and lightly dust the top of the dough with flour. Seal the seam underneath the dough by cupping the dough with your hands. Rotate the dough using quarter turns in a circular motion while bringing it towards you. This motion will create tension on the surface of the dough and form it into a smooth tight ball.
  • Dust the dough.
    Next, dust a bread basket with rice flour or rye flour mixed with all-purpose flour. Dust the top of the ball with flour as well. If you don't have a bread basket, feel free to use a bowl or loaf pan. Transfer the dough into the basket seam side up. This mixture will help prevent the dough from sticking to the basket. 
  • Rest the dough.
    Put the dough in the fridge overnight, so it can develop a deeper flavor. You can also put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will make it firm and easy to score (slice) with a razor or bread lame
  • Score the dough.
    Preheat your oven temperature to 450 degrees. Next, flour your work surface and then place the dough on its, seam side down. Slash the top of the dough either at a 45-degree angle or straight down at 1/4 an inch depth using the bread lame or razor. 
    Dust the inside of the Dutch oven with the flour mix, then place the dough in it and cover it. Do the same for your second dough. 
  • Bake the bread.
    Return the Dutch oven into your preheated oven and bake the bread until it becomes deep golden brown. This will take about 40 minutes. 
  • Rest the bread.
    After 40 minutes remove the lid from the Dutch oven and then proceed to set the timer for 5 minutes if the bread still hasn't turned deep brown. Keep a close eye on the bread. After it gets to your preferred color remove it with a wooden spoon or spatula and let it cool on a wire rack. 
  • Devour the bread.
    Let the bread rest for about 1 hour or 2 before eating it. Bread that’s eaten immediately tends to have a chewy texture. If you really can't wait, make sure you eat it with melted butter. Bread with melted butter is said to be divine.

Nutrition

Serving: 1loaf, Calories: 2344kcal (117%), Carbohydrates: 469g (156%), Protein: 62g (124%), Fat: 26g (40%), Saturated Fat: 19g (119%), Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 3392mg (147%), Potassium: 1265mg (36%), Fiber: 29g (121%), Sugar: 66g (73%), Vitamin A: 17IU, Vitamin C: 1mg (1%), Calcium: 300mg (30%), Iron: 23mg (128%)
Course | Appetizer,Bread
Cuisine | American
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