Chocolate Hazelnut Sourdough – Creating a Formula

I love all aspects of baking, however bread is definitely not my strong suit. But when I started thinking about competing in the Chef’s Hat competition, I knew I wanted to create something all on my own. It was a perfect opportunity to challenge my bread making ability and come up with a formula of my own, which I had never done before.

My inspiration for doing a chocolate bread came from this reddit post I saw a few months ago. I hadn’t even thought of chocolate in a bread dough before this! What a great, unique idea that contains one of my favourite ingredients – chocolate. The reddit user who posted their bread used this recipe, which contains dried fruit and walnuts.


“Sourdough Noir,” from Emilie on “the clever carrot

Turns out chocolate sourdough hasn’t been done very often, because my internet surfing for recipes to compare with was pretty dry. Most recipes have chocolate chips and dried fruit as inclusions, but I wanted the impactful, deep dark coloured loaf like the “sourdough noir.” There was one recipe that seemed to be the front runner – Chocolate cherry loaf. Chef James Bartlett of Metropolitan bakery in Philadelphia specializes in this bread, and I managed to find a few  videos of his makeup process. My friend Halsey found me a recipe for a chocolate cherry bread just like it, so I had a good base to start creating my formula from.

Instead of cherries, I wanted to have one of my favourite flavour combinations – chocolate and hazelnuts. In our NAIT formula books there is a recipe for “Rustic Hazelnut Sourdough (#52),” so I took that one and compared it side by side to the chocolate cherry loaf formula. Here are my first set of notes comparing the 2:

Bread notes 1

I knew I had to play around with the yeast levels and hydration to get the right balance, so I started with 65% hydration and 1% yeast in addition to my sourdough starter. I also decided to cold brew espresso into my water for the bread overnight since espresso is a natural flavour enhancer to chocolate. As for procedure, I did an autolyse method and retarded the dough overnight. Here is the first formula and procedure:

Choc test 1


Everything went as planned for the first go round…except I forgot to add the yeast. The levain alone did not do well overnight in the fridge, and the dough temperature was very low. The bread smelled amazing, however it was way too dense. I also got feedback that the amount of chocolate chips was a little high. A disappointing first attempt, but not a complete failure. Back to the books!


I did two more tests, keeping everything constant except for the hydration, levain amount and chocolate chip amount. I reduced the chocolate chips by 10% for both loaves, and followed the same procedure. This time I actually added the yeast though, and did not retard overnight.


Much better. The chocolate chip amount was just right, and yeast definitely helped a lot. I would have liked to retard overnight for that nice bubbly skin and better flavour development, but overall I was pleased. The formula I decided to go with was test #2, with 70% hydration and 65% levain. I ended up using that formula for our final practical assessment:


They weren’t the prettiest loaves, but they did turn out pretty good. I did not retard them overnight, and in the interest of time I ended up doing a hot brewed espresso instead of a cold brew which actually made the bread quite sour compared to the previous attempts. The sourness balanced pretty well, but I found that it was less of a chocolate enhancer and more of a hazelnut suppressor.

I still have some tweaks to do until it’s perfect, but I like the flavour of it and overall I think I achieved my goal. This bread tastes and smells amazing when toasted with a bit of butter. The Chef’s Hat competition is soon, and I intend on using test #2 with cold brew espresso and retarding overnight. Ask me later how it turns out!

If you wanted to try it for yourself, here is the formula:

Chocolate Hazelnut Sourdough

4 loaves @ 650g each

Bread Flour 820g
Water 572g
Salt 20g
Malt Powder 8g
Levain 532g
Yeast 8g
Espresso 40g
Cocoa powder 80g
Hazelnuts 328g
Dark Chocolate Chips 252g
Bread flour 220g
Water 240g
Sourdough starter 76g
  1. Cold brew espresso and water 12-24hrs before mixing. Toast hazelnuts beforehand.
  2. Prepare levain 12 hours before.
  3. Combine espresso water (drained), flour, and levain till hydrated, autolyse for 20 min.
  4. Add cocoa powder, yeast, malt powder and salt; mix for 4 min on 1st speed and 2-4 min on 2nd speed, until gluten formation.
  5. Add chocolate chips and crushed hazelnuts on speed 1 until incorporated.
  6. BFT for 90 min at room temp with 1 fold. (RDT 24C)
  7. Scale and divide, retard overnight.
  8. Proof in floured baneton for approx 1.5 hours at room temp.
  9. Bake between 425-450F for 30 min.

Thanks for reading! Happy baking,

~ Tierany


The Origin of the French Baguette

Marie Antoinette’s famous line: “Let them eat cake” is beloved to be about when she heard that the peasants of France didn’t have enough bread to eat. Until the end of the 1700s, bread was what peasants ate at every meal. Being a staple in their diet, the average adult man might eat two to three pounds per day. The lack of bread, as well as the lack of edible bread available to peasants at the time was one of the main reasons why the French Revolution started.

After the Revolution ended, the government made sure that quality bread was accessible to everyone. A law was created that stated that all bakers must only make one type of bread: The Bread of Equality. This meant that whether rich or poor, everyone would receive good quality wheat bread which was made from flour that is 3/4 wheat, 1/4 rye and includes bran.

This, however; did not lead to the French baguette that we know today. By the middle of the 1800s, baguettes were six feet long. At one point, someone described how they had to put the baguette on their dining table lengthwise because it was longer than the width of the table. Also, young boys used to pretend that these baguettes were swords and enjoyed playing with them before dinner

The size of these baguettes changed once again in 1920. A law passed that stated that bakers weren’t allowed to work between 10pm and 4am. The six foot baguettes that they currently had needed to bake for a long time which didn’t give bakeries enough time to bake enough bread to sell.

That’s when they created the baguette that we know today. This baguette is only up to a metre in length and has a diameter of 5-6 cm. This smaller baguette allowed bakers to come in after 4am and gave them enough time to bake baguettes for Parisians to have for their breakfasts.

That’s how everyone’s favourite bread was created. I found all of this information very interesting and am very happy that I don’t have to worry about fitting a 2 metre long baguette into my car!









Dutch Oven Bread

Steam is a crucial component to bread making. In crusty breads, it allows the loaf to expand while also producing a crispy crust. This process is simple to accomplish in a commercial bakery because they have deck ovens that can steam breads once they are loaded. This is a difficult process to achieve at home; however, because normal ovens can’t steam products.

A newer trend in at-home bread baking is using a Dutch oven to bake bread. When the lid is closed, it traps the steam inside which helps achieve similar effects to a commercial baked bread. I will be exploring this concept as I follow Joanna Cismaru’s recipe to make her No Knead Dutch Oven Crusty Bread.

Ingredient List:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups room temperature water


  1. I chose to combine all the ingredients in my Kitchen Aid mixer. I added the water first and then added the rest of the ingredients. Mixing on 1st speed until the dough came together and stopped sticking to the sides of the bowl.

16935446_10211165343636787_266623652_o.jpg2. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-18 hours. I left mine for 14 hours and it had doubled in size by that point.16930718_10211165346156850_1808462107_o3. Preheat oven to 450 F and place your Dutch oven (I used a 3.5 QT) and its’ lid inside as it preheats. Once preheated, sprinkle a bit of flour into bottom of pot.

4. With floured hands, degas and shape dough into a ball. Put into bottom of Dutch oven. Cover with lid and bake for 30 mins.

5. Remove lid and bake another 15-20 mins until golden brown. Mine baked for 17 mins.


6. Immediately remove from pot and let cool completely before slicing.



I really enjoyed this bread. It had a nice crispy crust and a soft inside. While it isn’t quite the same flavour as bread made in a commercial bakery, it is still very good. Overall, I would make this bread again. Next time, I’ll let it proof for longer to develop the flavour further. As well, I would add some herbs or cheese.