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- What are Calabrian Chilis?
- Baker's Percentage Chart
- Tools Needed for Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough:
- Ingredients Needed for Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough:
- Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough Bread Recipe Guide:
- 1. Build the Levain:
- 2. Autolyse:
- 3. Add Levain:
- 4. Add Salt & Mix:
- 5. Bulk Fermentation:
- 6. Shaping:
- 7. Overnight Proof:
- 8. Score & Bake:
- How to Serve:
- How to Store:
- Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough Bread FAQs:
- Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough Bread
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
Hot honey has recently erupted on the food scene, from Brooklyn pizza shops and grocery store aisles to food influencer feeds. But, surprisingly, this sweet and spicy must-have condiment hasn’t headlined a sourdough recipe yet. So, I have beckoned the Siren’s song with this Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough Bread recipe.
Drizzling a bunch of Mike’s Hot Honey into sourdough sounds appealing, but that isn’t a viable option for sourdough bread. Adding too much sugar to sourdough bread can impact fermentation, gluten development, and the final color of the loaf. We all like a little caramelization on a sourdough crust, but including too much sugar can quickly cook that loaf to a burnt crisp at high temperatures.
Thus, Calabrian chilis enter as a perfect stand-in for hot honey without the added sugar drama. While technically hotter than jalapeños, Calabrian chilis have a fruity profile that balances out their spiciness. Their firehouse red color makes it clear the bread has a little kick, but a small amount of honey is still included in the recipe to offset some of the heat.
Toasted and smothered with some whipped ricotta or mascarpone, it’s hard to beat this sweet and spicy sourdough!
What are Calabrian Chilis?
Calabrian chili peppers are grown in the Calabria region of Italy. The Southern Italian peppers are known for their complex and versatile flavor; they’re smoky, slightly sweet, and medium spicy. They make a great addition to pizza, pasta sauces, or a topping for focaccia.
Calabrian chilis have grown more popular in the United States recently, albeit not in their raw form. Typically, they are jarred and chopped in olive oil or sold as a chili paste (similar to gochujang, but not fermented). I use Divina chopped Calabrian peppers for this recipe.
You can find jarred Calabrian chilis in many grocery stores in the condiments aisle or near other canned peppers. In addition, it can appear in international or Italian aisles. If you can’t find them online, you can purchase them on Amazon or other online retailers.
What are the best substitutes for Calabrian Chilis?
In most recipes, you can substitute raw Calabrian chilis with another comparable chili pepper like serrano or Anaheim peppers.
I use jarred Calabrian peppers instead of raw ones, so the best substitute in this recipe would be Peppadew or Pimento Peppers for their sweet and spicy quality (although they’re both less spicy).
Jarred jalapeños or banana peppers would be acceptable as well.
Be sure to strain the oil or liquid from the peppers before using.
Baker’s Percentage Chart
I include a baker’s percentage chart so you can easily scale a recipe up or down. With baker’s percentages, the total weight of all flour in the recipe is 100%. I also include the prefermented flour from the levain in this flour weight. Finally, I note the ingredients proportionally to the total weight of flour (in this case, 430g of total flour). That’s why the percentages below will add up to over 100%.
The King Arthur website has a more detailed reference page on why and how baker’s percentages are calculated if you’re interested and would like to learn more.
|Bread Flour||380 grams (includes 30g for levain*)||88.4%|
|White Whole Wheat Flour||40 grams||9.3%|
|Rye Flour||10 grams||2.3%|
|Sea Salt||7 grams||1.6%|
|Water||330 grams (includes 30g for levain)||76.7%|
|Sourdough starter||30 grams (all for levain)||7%|
|Chopped Calabrian Chilis||60 grams (strained from oil)||14%|
Tools Needed for Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough:
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven
I’m in love with my Challenger Bread Pan. It bakes the highest quality sourdough bread possible. The Challenger Bread Pan is heavy-duty cast iron, and a sourdough bread baker designed the pan. It’s large enough for baking different shapes and even fits a couple of demi-baguettes. I couldn’t recommend this pan enough to elevate your sourdough baking.
The Lodge Double Dutch Oven is a smaller, economical option that too produces a great loaf. I’ve used Lodge’s enameled dutch oven with success as well. However, these pans are circular and will only fit boules.
I always list ingredients by weight in grams because it is the most accurate way to measure baking ingredients. Use a scale, and your baking will immediately be better!
I use my Escali baking scale every day. The batteries last a long time, are accurate, and come in many colors.
My favorite bread lame for scoring sourdough is the UFO Bread Lame from Wire Monkey. It’s easy to handle, sleek, and has a sharp blade to cut through the dough easily.
I’ve used many bench scrapers, but this Lamson bench scraper is my favorite and highest-quality one. It’s sturdy, has a beautiful walnut handle, and is handcrafted near me in Massachusetts (even better!).
Banneton Proofing Basket
Optional but helpful: Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer
This folding proofing box by Brød & Taylor is a game changer to keep your sourdough starter and doughs at the perfect temperature while proofing.
My sourdough baking immediately improved when I got my proofer.
The proofer folds up easily, includes a humidity tray, is multifunctional, and can even be a slow cooker.
Ingredients Needed for Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough:
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
King Arthur Bread Flour has a high protein content and is the brand of bread flour I use for most recipes. However, another high-quality and high-protein content bread flour would work as well.
Don’t have a sourdough starter? Then, follow my How to Make a Sourdough Starter guide to learn how to make and maintain your own in just a week.
White Whole Wheat Flour
White whole wheat flour performed best for me in this sourdough recipe. The white whole wheat gives the bread a milder whole-wheat heartiness than regular whole wheat. I use this flour with great success in my Seeded Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread as well.
White whole wheat is ground from hard white flour, whereas regular whole wheat is usually from hard red wheat. As a result, it’s traditionally ground finer than regular whole wheat. The difference in white whole wheat was subtle but noticeable in my recipe tests.
Substitute with regular whole wheat flour or an equal amount of spelt flour like in my Spelt Sourdough Bread recipe.
I often add a touch of rye flour to my loaves for additional coloring and flavor. This loaf is no exception. A little bit of rye flour goes a long way.
You can use any honey in this recipe. Substitute the honey with agave to make the recipe vegan.
Fine Ground Sea Salt
Fine Ground Sea Salt is the best salt for sourdough bread. While you only need a little to bake with, salt makes a big difference in your bread’s flavor and dough structure.
Sea salt absorbs more quickly than Kosher Salt and does not have a metallic flavor like table salt.
I use this brand of chopped Calabrian chilis. I strain the oil from the chilis with a mesh strainer.
Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough Bread Recipe Guide:
Follow this detailed visual guide to help you bake this sourdough bread recipe. Adjust as necessary to fit your schedule, ambient temperature, and fermentation rate.
1. Build the Levain:
Mix 30g sourdough starter, 30g bread flour, and 30g water in an empty jar.
Cover and set in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until bubbly and ripe. The levain should at least double in size during this time.
Note: Please refer to my guide on How To Make A Sourdough Starter if you do not have an active sourdough starter and the FAQ section on that page where I explain the difference between a starter and a levain. See my Top 10 Sourdough Starter Tips for Success for extra tips to make a more robust sourdough starter.
Autolyse helps kickstart gluten development for sourdough and only consists of flour and water. You do not add the salt nor levain/sourdough starter during autolyse. I typically autolyse for at least an hour and up to three hours.
At least an hour before the levain is ripe, mix 350 grams of bread flour, 40 grams of white whole wheat flour, 10 grams of rye flour, and 300 grams of room temperature water in a medium bowl.
The dough will be extremely sticky. Use your hands, a silicone spatula, or a flexible bench scraper to mix the flour for a few minutes until it is hydrated.
Cover the bowl and set aside in a warm location until the levain is ready.
3. Add Levain:
When the levain is bubbly and ripe, add all the levain (or 80-90 grams of sourdough starter) on top of the autolysed dough.
Use your hands to dimple the levain into the dough. Then, stretch and fold the dough onto itself for a few minutes until you thoroughly incorporate the levain into the dough.
To stretch and fold:
- Use your hand as pincers to pull up a portion of the dough.
- Lift the dough to stretch it, then fold it down in the middle of the bowl.
- Rotate the bowl and repeat this motion.
Cover the bowl and rest in a warm location for 30 minutes.
4. Add Salt & Mix:
After 30 minutes, sprinkle 7 grams of fine ground sea salt on top of the dough. I typically add a few grams of water here as well.
Dimple in the sea salt and begin mixing the dough. Stretch and fold the dough for 5-10 minutes.
At the end of mixing, the dough should be smoother, you shouldn’t feel any salt granules in the dough, and it should be more elastic. We will continue to add strength to the dough during bulk fermentation and shaping.
Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
5. Bulk Fermentation:
At 78ºF, bulk fermentation (first proof) takes about 3.5 hours. Bulk fermentation is speedier with this dough due to the added honey.
If your dough and environment are cooler, bulk fermentation will take longer. Conversely, in warmer conditions, bulk fermentation will be faster.
Notes: An instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen is a great tool to check your dough temperature throughout bulk fermentation. Furthermore, the Brød and Taylor folding proofer is a perfect tool to keep your dough at a consistent temperature range.
Adding Calabrian Chilis
After 30 minutes, gently stretch and fold 60 grams of chopped Calabrian chilis into the dough. Strain any oil from the chilis before using.
To incorporate the chilis:
- Sprinkle a quarter of them on top of the dough.
- Perform one stretch and fold to bring a section of the dough up and onto itself.
- Repeat these steps with the remainder of the chilis for a total of four stretch and folds.
When adding inclusions to sourdough, it’s essential to be gentle with the dough so it does not tear. Therefore, I strengthen the dough during the remainder of bulk fermentation with three coil folds spaced in intervals.
- Perform the next coil fold in 30-minutes and the next two spaced one hour apart. Add more coil folds if the dough is still very slack after the last fold. The dough rests in bulk fermentation for the remainder of the time.
Bulk fermentation is complete when the dough is risen about 50%, feels full of air, and there are visible bubbles on top of and around the dough.
Note: See my Bulk Fermentation 101 guide for a detailed analysis and more clues on how to know bulk fermentation is complete.
Note: I typically do not preshape dough unless the dough is feeling very slack or if it includes a gluten-free flour like my buckwheat sourdough recipe.
Moving quickly and using the bench scraper if needed, invert the dough and gently place it into a floured banneton.
Stitch the dough to add additional strength if it is still slack in its banneton or lost shape.
7. Overnight Proof:
Cover the banneton and place in a refrigerator overnight and for up to 48 hours.
The overnight proof, or retard, will give additional flavor to the dough and slow down fermentation.
8. Score & Bake:
Place an empty cast iron dutch oven in the oven and preheat at 500ºF (260ºC) for an hour.
After an hour, remove the cold dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a small piece of parchment paper in the shape of the banneton.
Using a sharp bread lame, score the dough.
I usually score this sourdough with one vertical slash down the middle for a batard (oval). For a boule (round), score the dough with a cross pattern in the center of the dough. The score should be about ¼”-½” deep.
Carefully place the scored dough with parchment into the dutch oven, add two ice cubes in the oven for additional steam if using a cast iron pan, and immediately cover with the lid.
Bake at 500ºF (260ºC) for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn down the oven to 450ºF (232ºC) and bake with the lid off for 15 minutes.
Note: Since the bread contains honey, the sugars may caramelize the crust faster.
Let the bread cool for at least an hour on a wire rack before slicing.
How to Serve:
This Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough is both spicy and slightly sweet. The honey is almost imperceptible but balances the spicy peppers. The sugars in the honey help caramelize the crust (called the Maillard reaction), which leads to a lovely crunchy exterior
I think this bread is especially delectable with whipped mascarpone, ricotta, or even feta. The cheese “cools” off the bread and is a nice textural contrast to the crunchy crust. It’s also excellent dipped in soup, stew, or chili.
How to Store:
Sourdough bread contains no preservatives except salt and the natural sourdough yeast itself. However, sourdough bread can last for many days at room temperature.
To store sliced sourdough bread, wrap it in a tea towel and keep it in a paper bag or bread bag. Keep any cut portion turned down towards the counter to prevent moisture loss. You can keep sourdough like this for multiple days.
If the bread begins to stale, slice it and store it in the freezer indefinitely to warm up and toast later.
Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough Bread FAQs:
Can I double this recipe?
This recipe makes one sourdough loaf. You’re welcome to double the recipe. The only change you’ll need to make is to divide the dough in half at the end of bulk fermentation and have two bannetons for each loaf to proof in overnight.
Why did my loaf ferment so fast?
This recipe includes honey, which sourdough yeasts will devour quickly as sugar. This will accelerate the bulk ferment, so keep an eye on how the dough is fermenting. Read my Bulk Fermentation 101 guide for more info.
Can I add more whole wheat flour to this recipe?
You can add more whole wheat flour to this recipe for supplemental flavor. However, be aware that whole wheat can hasten fermentation, and the bread might be denser.
Is this bread spicy?
This Calabrian chili and honey sourdough is balanced well, so it is not too spicy. Honey adds a natural sweetness; the peppers are complex and not just heat. However, if you’re sensitive to peppers or spicy foods, lower the number of chilis!
My dough is taking too long to rise or didn’t double during bulk fermentation. What do I do?
Sourdough yeasts do best in a slightly warmer than room temperature range (between 75-80ºF is ideal). Check your dough temperature throughout with an instant-read thermometer to ensure the dough is in a comfortable range for the yeasts to multiply.
Also, make sure your sourdough starter is active and healthy. Follow my tips to make a stronger sourdough starter.
Can I make this recipe vegan?
Yes, replace the honey with agave syrup or another naturally sweet syrup.
Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough Bread
Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough Bread:
- 350 grams Bread Flour
- 40 grams White Whole Wheat Flour
- 10 grams Rye Flour
- 300 grams Water, (room temperature)
- 80-90 grams Levain, (see above, or replace with sourdough starter)
- 7 grams Sea Salt
- 30 grams Honey
- 60 grams Calabrian Chilis, (Jarred, chopped, and strained. Substitute with Peppadew, Pimento, or Jalapeño peppers.)
- Build the Levain:In a clean jar, mix the sourdough starter, bread flour, and water for the levain.Cover and set in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until it is ripe. The ripe levain should at least double in size and be full of bubbles and gases.30 grams Sourdough Starter, 30 grams Bread Flour, 30 grams Water
- Autolyse:About an hour before the levain is ripe, begin autolyse. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flours. Create a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the water.Mix together the flour and water just until it comes together and there are minimal dry bits of flour left. The dough will be very sticky during mixing.Cover and rest an hour or more until the levain is ripe.350 grams Bread Flour, 40 grams White Whole Wheat Flour, 300 grams Water, 10 grams Rye Flour
- Add Levain, Salt, and Mix:Add all the levain and honey to the mixing bowl. Dimple the levain and honey into the dough and stretch and fold the dough upon itself for a few minutes to combine.Cover and rest 30 minutes.Sprinkle sea salt on top of the dough along with a few grams of water. Dimple the salt and water into the dough. Stretch and fold the dough upon itself for 5 minutes or more until thoroughly mixed. At the end of mixing, the dough will be smooth, you should not feel any individual salt granules between your fingers, and the dough will be much stronger.Cover and rest 15 minutes.80-90 grams Levain, 7 grams Sea Salt, 30 grams Honey
- Bulk Fermentation:At 78ºF (26ºC), bulk fermentation typically takes about 3.5-4 hours.After 30 minutes, gently stretch and fold the Calabrian chilis into the dough in four divisions. Stretch and fold the dough once in between each addition for a total of four stretch and folds. Cover the dough and place in a warm location.Perform a coil fold in 30-minutes and the next two coil folds spaced one hour apart. Add more coil folds if the dough is still very slack after the last fold. The dough rests in bulk fermentation for the remainder of the time.At the end of bulk fermentation, the dough should be smooth and rounded, feel full of air, have visible bubbles, and should wobble/jiggle if shaken. The dough should rise about 50%.60 grams Calabrian Chilis
- Shaping:Lightly flour the top of the dough in the mixing bowl and the bench/counter. Gently loosen the dough from the sides of the mixing bowl to turn the dough out onto the counter.With the help of a bench scraper, shape the dough into a batard (oval) or boule (round) and place it seam side down into a floured banneton.Stitch the dough in the banneton if it is still loose or lost any shape.
- Cold Overnight Proof:Cover the banneton and place in a cold refrigerator to proof overnight and up to 48 hours.
- Bake:Place the empty dutch oven with lid in the oven and preheat for an hour at 500°F (260ºC).When the dutch oven has preheated for an hour, remove the banneton from the refrigerator. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Using a bread lame or sharp knife, score the dough with one slash down the middle for a batard (oval) or a cross section for a boule (round). The score should be ¼-½" deep.Transfer the scored dough to the baking vessel and cover it with the lid.Bake at 500°F (260ºC) for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, lower the oven temperature to 450ºF (232ºC) and bake for 15 minutes with the lid off.Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.Slice and enjoy!
- Try to keep the dough at a constant, warm temperature (between 75-80ºF) as much as possible throughout fermentation. I use the Brød and Taylor bread proofer to keep my dough at a constant 78ºF. If your dough and environment are cooler, bulk fermentation will take longer. Conversely, in warmer conditions, the dough will ferment faster.