Rye Chocolate Cherry Sourdough!

Rye Chocolate Cherry Sourdough

Adapted from Eric Rusch, the master baker from breadtopia.com; this is what he says about this remarkable version of rye sourdough:

In this sourdough bread, the deep flavor of whole grain rye has equal footing with the intensely tart Montmorency cherries and melty chocolate chunks. Just shy of a dessert, this bread is perfect for breakfast or as a midday energy boost with a steaming cup of tea.

Just this week I made Eric Rusch’s sourdough rye and it turned out pretty well with an excellent texture and subtle but rounded taste. So as a fan of dried sour cherries and dark chocolate (of course), I had to try this intriguing recipe as well!

As with the rye, I used a bit of instant yeast as well as the levain, and did a long (overnight) fermentation. The dough was very heavy, and it helps to use exactly the right size Le Creuset or Dutch oven to support the sides of the loaf. I got a phone call just as I was preheating the oven with my favorite oval Le Creuset casserole, which has now been permanently discolored through being overheated. <sigh> I had to use a larger oval and the loaf turned out a bit flatter than desired. However, the texture turned out well, and the taste was a wonderful blend of rye, cherries, and dark chocolate. Of course, I had to taste it warm, slathered with vegan cream cheese… four slices later, I left the loaf cool so that I could slice the rest and share with friends.

Note: All measurements are in grams, because precision and proportions count when you’re making bread or anything yeasted. Use an electronic scale that gives weights in both grams and ounces.


370g water – I’d start with 350g water, and add a little more if your dough requires it.
100g levain (sourdough starter)
4g instant yeast – about 1 tsp
245g (two cups) rye flour (two cups)
245g (two cups) bread flour (I used all-purpose flour)
9g kosher salt
125+g dark chocolate chips; I used a mixture of 41%, 44%, and 61% chips
125+g dried sour cherries – Montmorency or Morello cherries work best
Additional flour for dusting

Butter or oil spray such as Pam for greasing the bowls/pans; pizza stone;  heavy cast iron Dutch over or Le Creuset with lid


Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl using a wooden spoon, dough whisk, or stiff spatula as rye dough is very sticky for hand mixing.

Optional:  Cover and let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes (autolyse).  Stretch and fold the dough.  Let rest for another 20-30 minutes;  stretch and fold a second time.  This will help to develop the gluten for a better texture.

Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with Pam or oil and set aside.  [At this point, I popped the dough in the fridge overnight.]  You will probably want to ferment the dough for 9-12 hours, until it’s soft, expanded, and pressing a finger into the dough leaves a ¼” impression.

After the long 12-14 hour proof, stretch and fold the dough and shape into boule or batard (round or oblong) shape for baking.  Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured counter or large board. Gently press into a thick rectangle.  Fold into thirds like a letter, then into thirds the other way to make a tall square, seam-side down.  Brush off the excess flour as you go.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Without flipping the dough, shape it into a boule or batard by tucking the sides of the square under and scooting the dough in circles.  [This will make sense when you’re doing it!]

Cover again with plastic and let rest 15 minutes before putting in a proofing basket for the final rise.  If you don’t have a proofing basket, line a bowl with a well floured kitchen towel and put the dough in there for the final rise. The final rise should last somewhere between 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Keep the dough covered with plastic to prevent it from drying out.  The seams should be closed from all the time they have spent pressing down on the counter.  If not, wet your fingertips and seal any wide cracks or overly floured areas.

Half hour before baking, preheat your oven to 475°F/250°C, with the pizza stone (if available) placed on the middle rack.  Add the Dutch oven or Le Creuset (enameled cast iron casserole with lid) to preheat as well. Place an old cast-iron frying pan in the bottom of the oven.

Line a cutting board with a piece of baking parchment and flip the dough out of the proofing basket onto the board.  Score the dough with a razor, lame, or sharp serrated knife; place on the baking sheet or pizza stone.  Remove the hot Dutch oven from the over and lift use the paper to lift the dough into it. Cover the pot and put it back in the over.

Bake for about 30 minutes covered, then 10-15 minutes uncovered, until the internal temp is about 205°F/95°C, and tapping on the bottom produces a hollow sound.

Let cool completely before eating.  Yeah, like that’s going to happen!  Rusch says:  This bread is quite a treat when still warm, and possibly worth the melted chocolate mess. However, you may want to let it cool for several hours, as you can always toast the chocolate back to a melted state.   I like a slice or two warm with vegan cream cheese, ordinary cream cheese, or unsalted butter.

When completely cooled, bread can be frozen, well wrapped in plastic and placed in a ziplok bag. Otherwise, store in a loose plastic bag at room temperature. As with anything else containing chocolate, storage is not a problem (because it disappears at a rapid rate).

Rusch adds this note on his Sourdough Rye recipe and it also applies to this loaf:

On 12-14 hour proofing period: I typically prepare everything in the evening for baking the next morning. You can also mix everything up in the morning and refrigerate until evening then remove before bed to resume the proofing at room temperature. Alternatively, if you get started with mixing everything up early enough in the morning, the bread can also be ready to bake in the evening. This is a nice option when you want fresh bread ready to eat for breakfast.

As always, here is a printable file:  Rye Chocolate Cherry Sourdough.