An original recipe by Maurizio Leo, of The Perfect Loaf
Yield: Makes 12 Chocolate knots
Difficulty: High
Cook Time: 32 minutes
Total Time: 28 hours 32 minutes
Sourdough Chocolate Knot Formula Vitals
Total dough weight 800 grams
Pre-fermented flour 12.0%
Hydration 36.0%
Levain in the final dough 40.9%
Yield 12 Chocolate Knots


44g high-protein white flour
44g water
44g ripe sourdough starter, 100% hydration

324g high-protein white flour
92g unsalted butter
88g whole milk
51g egg, beaten
18g superfine sugar (caster sugar)
88g water
7g fine sea salt
132g ripe levain (from step 1)

110g granulated sugar
75g unsalted butter
70g Valrhona Carraibe 66% Baking Chocolate Feves
25g Valrhona Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder

1 whole egg
1 Tbsp whole milk
1 pinch salt



  • Mix the ingredients in a jar and leave them covered at a warm temperature, 74-76°F (23-24°C), to ripen for 3 hours.
  • You can mix and strengthen this dough by hand using the slap and fold technique, but you can also use a KitchenAid stand mixer or a large spiral mixer.
  • Note: Warm the milk in the microwave or over the stove, as necessary, to help meet the final dough temperature of 78°F (25°C).
  • First, cut the butter into 1/2″ pats. Set them on a plate to warm to room temperature.
  • To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, milk, egg, sugar, salt, and ripe levain.
  • Mix on low speed (STIR on a KitchenAid) for 1 to 2 minutes until the ingredients come together and no dry bits remain.
  • Next, mix on medium speed (2 to 3 on a KitchenAid) for 5 to 7 minutes until the dough smooths and begins to cling to the hook.
  • If the dough is too dry, add a splash of milk as necessary to soften, but be conservative.
  • Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.
  • Turn the mixer on low speed (STIR on a KitchenAid) and mix for 2 to 4 minutes until the dough gains more strength and begins to cling once again to the dough hook.
  • Next, with the mixer running, add the room temperature butter, one pat at a time, waiting to add each pat until the previous one is fully absorbed. Adding all the butter will take 5 to 8 minutes.
  • In the end, the dough will be very soft, and it won’t altogether remove from the sides of the bowl.
  • Transfer the dough to a bulk fermentation container and cover.
  • BULK FERMENTATION (4 hours):
  • At a warm room temperature, 74-76°F (23-24°C), bulk fermentation should take about 4 hours. This dough will require 1 set of gentle slaps and folds during bulk fermentation.
  • After the first hour, gently scrape the dough out to the work surface.
  • Using damp hands, pick up the dough at the sides and slap it gently down on the counter, stretch the dough back toward your body, then fold it over itself.
  • Rotate both your hands and pick up the dough at its sides, then repeat the same gentle slap and fold over. Repeat these slaps and folds a few times until the dough is smooth on the top and holds itself on the counter, after 4 to 5 times.
  • Then, using a bench scraper, transfer the dough back to the bulk fermentation container. The dough should be neatly folded up in the bowl.
  • Let the dough rest, covered, for the remainder of bulk fermentation.
  • After 4 hours, the dough should be risen in the bulk fermentation container and be slightly puffy to the touch. If the dough is still dense and tight, give it another 30 minutes to rise further and check again.
  • Place the covered bulk fermentation container into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight (my preference) to firm the dough, making it easier to roll and cut.
  • Line two 13x18-inch sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • Take out the covered bulk fermentation container and let it warm for about 30 minutes until the dough feels cool to the touch but still pliable.
  • In the meantime, prepare the chocolate filling.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.
  • Remove from the heat and add the sugar and chocolate feves; stir everything together while the chocolate melts until everything comes together and smooths.
  • Using a handheld whisk, add the cocoa powder and whisk the mixture into an emulsion. Set aside to cool until ready to use.
  • Uncover the dough and liberally flour the top and your work surface.
  • Scrape out the dough to the floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll out to a rectangle that’s about 12 x 17-inches with the short end nearest your body.
  • Using a small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of the chocolate filling evenly over half of the dough closest to your body (you may have some chocolate filling leftover).
  • Fold the top half of the dough down over the chocolate.
  • The width of the dough should be 12-inches, if it’s longer, use a knife to trim the ends, if it’s shorter, gently stretch the dough to 12-inches.
  • Using a knife, cut the dough into twelve 1-inch strips that are about 8-inches long (imagine the dough looks like piano keys that are very long).
  • Using the knife, start about 1-inch from the end of each strip and cut each in half vertically to make two long strips that are still connected at the far end (the dough will now look like a pair of chopsticks that are at first connected at the far end).
  • With your index finger and thumb, grab the far end that’s still connected with one hand, and with the other hand the end of the two strips.
  • Gently twist each end so the whole thing begins to spiral (the cut will make the two strips twist independently, creating more twists).
  • Once the entire thing is twisted, begin to roll the strip with your far hand around itself to make a snail-looking shape.
  • Once you reach the end, tuck the end under the center so it stays put.
  • Transfer the knot to a baking sheet.
  • Repeat for the remaining strips, placing six knots evenly spaced on each baking sheet.
  • Cover the sheets with a large plastic bag or reusable sheet pan cover.
  • PROOF:
  • At warm room temperature, 74-76°F (23-24°C), this dough should take 3 ½ hours to fully proof. If your kitchen is cooler, expect it to take longer.
  • When fully proofed, the knots should be very soft to the touch (a poke will feel like poking a marshmallow).
  • BAKE:
  • Preheat the oven with one rack in the top third and one in the bottom third to 375°F (190°C) for 30 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together a whole egg, a small pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of whole milk.
  • Uncover the dough and brush on a light layer of the egg wash, taking care not to drench the knots.
  • Slide the pans into the oven.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back halfway during this time.
  • After 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 350°F (175°C) and continue to bake for another 10 to 12 minutes until the tops of the knots are a light golden brown.
  • Take care not to overbake these, they should still be soft.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • These knots are best served warm but can be kept in a covered container for up to 3 days, reheated before serving.