Chocolate Chunk Torte

Naturally fermented cake with chopped chocolate is an unexpected treat. But all the flavor notes come together: The bitterness and coffee-ish taste of the dark chocolate, the subtle tang of the starter, and the caramelized sweetness of turbinado sugar combine to create a sophisticated and incredible cake. Creaming the butter and sugar forms the backbone of the batter, so don’t skimp on that step; it helps to enrich and lighten the texture of the cake. Kerri tested this recipe with Cairnspring Mills' Organic Whole Grain Expresso flour, and it works very well in this recipe.

From Bittman Bread by Mark Bittman and Kerri Conan, with authors' permission. Photos by Jim Henkens.

Prep Time

8 to 12 hours

Bake Time

50 - 60 min

Total Time

9 - 13 hours


1 9-inch round or square cake (8 servings)


100 grams whole wheat starter

250 grams whole wheat flour, plus 50 grams for feeding the starter

125 grams whole milk, plus more if needed

50 grams water for feeding the starter

113 grams (1 stick) butter, plus more for greasing the pan

200 grams (about 7 ounces) dark chocolate

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

150 grams turbinado sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ice cream or whipped cream for serving


  1. Combine the starter with 100 grams of the whole wheat flour and the milk in a bowl to make the jumpstarter. Stir with a rubber spatula or big spoon until the jumpstarter comes together in a loose dough or a thick batter; no traces of dry flour should be seen. Cover the bowl with plastic or a damp kitchen towel and let it sit at room temperature overnight, anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. (You can refrigerate the jumpstarter after fermenting to hibernate for up to 24 hours; let it come to room temperature before proceeding.) Meanwhile, feed the remaining starter: Add 50 grams each whole wheat flour and water and stir or shake. Cover and return it to the refrigerator.
  2. An hour before you’re ready to bake, take the butter out of the fridge to soften. Chop the chocolate into 1/2-inch chunks. Grease a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate, square baking pan or baking dish, or 9-inch springform pan with extra butter. Combine the remaining 150 grams flour with the baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Heat the oven to 350°F. Put the stick of butter in a large bowl with the sugar and beat with an electric mixer or whisk vigorously until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes (the sugar won’t dissolve). Beat or whisk in the eggs one at a time. Beat or whisk until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat or whisk in the vanilla. (It’s okay if the sugar isn’t completely dissolved.)
  4. Fold in the jumpstarter and the flour mixture with a rubber spatula or big spoon until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks. The batter will be a little stiff but not quite as firm as cookie dough; add a little more milk if necessary.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream or whipped cream. (Cover any leftover cake to store at room temperature and eat within a day, or refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

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