Cocoa peanut butter and chilli flake loaf…

Welcome to my cocoa peanut butter and chili flakes loaf! This is a play on my chocolate and chili flake loaf and my peanut butter loaf, which you’ll find in my first book, Whole Grain Sourdough at Home.

Adding peanut butter to my standard sourdough recipe brings a wonderful richness to the dough and the loaf, the loaf will be slightly crusty with a soft inside, plus the oils mean the loaf lasts longer. The dough will be sticky initially but as the peanut butter mixes through the dough it becomes silky and smooth. The chilli flakes add a warm kick to the loaf, you can make this hotter if you prefer by using stronger chilli flakes or more of the Aleppo chilli flakes.

I used my absolute very favourite brand of peanut butter, Manilife, I love love their products, and this cocoa peanut butter is fabulous! I hope you’ll try it…

The recipe below provides the basics of the recipe and everything you need to know. See my main full master recipe for more timing, equipment and more complete/fully detailed process steps.

Makes 1 standard loaf

50 g starter

400 g water

150-200g Manilife cocoa peanut butter

500 g strong white bread flour

1-2 tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes

7 g salt, or to taste

Option: if you can’t find the fabulous cocoa peanut butter use any of the Manilife peanut butter range plus 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder.

Step 1: Roughly mix together all the ingredients, cover and leave the bowl on the counter. See the photos below to see how the dough might look.

Step 2: After 2 hours, perform a set of pulls and folds, the dough will be sticky and the peanut butter will not yet be fully mixed through. Cover and leave the bowl again.

Step 3: After 1 more hour, perform two more sets of pulls and folds, the dough will become textured and smooth and easier to work with. Cover and leave.

Step 4: Leave to proof until doubled in size, whether overnight (if you’re following my standard process) or during the day (if you’re using one of my other timetables).

Step 5: Shape the dough for your banneton, it will easily come into a smooth ball, cover, refrigerate, and proof again.

Step 6: Score and bake direct from the fridge, from a cold start for 55-60 mins at 425°F (220°C) convection or 450°F (230°C) conventional.

Step 7: Bake at the above temperatures for 50-55 minutes from preheated.

Step 8: Remove from the oven and pan and allow to cool fully before slicing.

I served this loaf with my cocoa peanut butter vegetable chilli dish which you can now find on the Manilife website.

The first rough mix
The second mix
After the final set of pulls and folds
The next morning
Scored and ready to baked

Understanding how to manage your dough making..

If you would like to understand exactly how to manage your dough making, control the timing, and work WITH your room temperature and not against it, you can hear me explaining all of this and more in my latest podcast episode. I explain exactly how I manage my dough making and how you can too.

AND I’ve got new recipes for you – including this focaccia!


Listen here and enjoy!

Or on Apple, Podbean, Spotify, Amazon, Google and other platforms.

Brought you in partnership with Matthews Cotswold Flour and Shanas Sourdough.

For everything you need to make fabulous sourdough: we’ve got you covered!

Find out more and see recipes featured in this episode and across the series on the podcast website and watch it all on YouTube.

Proudly brought to you with Matthews Cotswold Flour and Shana’s Sourdough.

For great flour visit the Cotswold Flour website and use code FOODBODPOD for our exclusive discount

For all of the equipment you’ll ever need visit Shana’s Sourdough.

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The new season of my podcast starts HERE and we’re talking SOURDOUGH!

I am very excited to announce the new season of my podcast, The Foodbod Pod, and this year we’re packing in LOTS of sourdough chat. Recipes, answers, hints, tips, we’ve got them all. Listen from the links below to hear what we’ll be bringing you – and my latest bigs news 🤩

Listen here and enjoy!

Or on Apple, Podbean, Spotify, Amazon, Google and other platforms.

Brought you in partnership with Matthews Cotswold Flour and Shanas Sourdough.

For everything you need to make fabulous sourdough: we’ve got you covered!

Hot cross loaf

I made the dough for this loaf and baked it in a sandwich tin, but it could also be used to make buns in the same way as my hot cross buns.

I have used oat milk and maple syrup so this loaf is ideal as a vegan option, you could also use milk of your choice and honey if you’d prefer.

Makes 1 loaf or 12 rolls

Ingredients for the dough

50 g active starter

375 g oat milk

500 g strong white bread flour

150 g mixed dried fruits and peels

50 g maple syrup

7 g salt, or to taste

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

Optional for the criss cross design

50 g plain/all purpose flour

50 g water


A lined loaf tin, I used my Pullman tin, minus its cover, 21.5 x 12.5 x 11.5 cm (81/2 x 5 x 41/2 inches)

An icing bag with tiny nozzle or sandwich bag with tiny hole cut in one corner


Step 1: In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together all the dough ingredients until you have a shaggy, rough dough. Cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or your choice of cover and leave the bowl on the counter for 2 hours.

Step 2: After 2 hours, perform the first set of pulls and folds until the dough feels less sticky and comes together into a soft studded ball. This will be a heavy dough. Cover the bowl again and leave it on your counter.

Step 3: After another hour of rest, do one more set of pulls and folds on dough, covering the dough again afterward.

Step 4: Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 8 to 10 hours, at 18 to 20°C/64 to 68°F.

Step 5: In the morning, hopefully the dough will have grown to double in size, with a smooth-ish dough surface around the dried fruits and peels. If the dough hasn’t grown sufficiently, give it more time, this is a heavy slow dough. Have your pan ready and place the paper liner on the counter. Gently lift and fold handfuls of dough from one side of the bowl into the middle in a line, using the same pulling and folding action as used previously. Turn the bowl 180 degrees and do the same on the other side so that you have a thick sausage of dough in the middle of the bowl.

With a wetted hand, place your whole hand over the dough, turn the bowl upside down and gently ease the dough from the bowl into your hand. Place the dough, seam side down, on the paper and slip your hand out from underneath the dough. Use the paper to lift the dough into the pan, cover it with the same shower cap and leave it on the counter. Allow the dough to proof again, letting it grow level with the edge of the pan until it is just peeking over the top. This may take 2 to 3 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The surface will become smooth and the dough will spread to fill the pan.

This step can also be done in the fridge for a longer, slower second prove, up to 24 hours, and can be baked directly from the fridge.

Step 6: When you are ready to bake, decide whether you would like to bake in a preheated oven or from a cold start. If preheating, set the oven to 200°C (400°F ) convection or 220°C (450°F) conventional.

Option: to add the criss crosses, pipe a flour paste design across the top of the loaf before baking. Mix 50 g plain/all purpose flour with 50 g water until it makes a smooth paste, and use a piping bag to pipe lines across the top of the loaf.

A bit rough but it was my first ever attempt!

Step 7: If you preheated the oven, bake the loaf for 45 minutes. If you are using a cold start, place the pan of dough in the oven, set the temperature as above and set a timer for 50 minutes. If the surface of the loaf looks like it is going to bake darker than you would like, cover the top of the loaf with another pan or some foil.

Step 8: Remove the loaf from the oven and the pan, tap the base of the loaf and if it sounds hollow, the loaf is baked. If not, return it to the oven, out of the pan, directly onto the rack to bake it for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool briefly on a wire rack before slicing.

To glaze, brush with warmed, melted apricot jam or golden syrup after baking and while still warm.

I must say a huge thank you to the very brilliant Cherie Denham for holding my hand through making these, Cherie is a brilliant baker and cook and helped me hugely! If you’d like hear us in conversation do check out my recent podcast episode – Cherie is wonderful and a true inspiration. Find us talking here: and subscribe to the channel so that you dont miss future episodes.

You can also find the podcast on Spotify, Amazon and Google.

If you like the creativeness of these recipes, you’re going to love my new book!


🌟 PLEASE READ 🌟 Exciting news for all sourdough bakers:

🌟 Season 2 of my podcast, The Foodbod Pod, is about to begin and this year we’re focusing heavily on our glorious SOURDOUGH! Yes! If you love sourdough, have questions, love my tips, fancy expanding your sourdough knowledge and listening to me chat all about it, you’re going to love it! It’s going to be FABULOUS!

You’ll find various links below where you can listen to all of last season episodes and subscribe ready for the upcoming season.

🌟 And and and…we return this year with our partner and sponsor Matthews Cotswold Flour and a brand new partner, Shana’s Sourdough. We are very excited about the new season, we’ve got everything covered for you, I hope you’ll love it!

🌟 So find us and subscribe ready for the first episode at the end of March and hear my next exciting news! 😉😉

Find us on these links or your preferred podcast platform:


The Foodbod Pod is brought to you in partnership with Matthews Cotswold Flour and Shana’s Sourdough. Bringing you everything you need to make fabulous sourdough with my recipes and methods.

Making a wholewheat/wholemeal starter

You can make a starter from any wheat based flour. The following photos in this post will show you what the stages of a wholewheat starter may look like as you make it across 7 days. These are a guide as things may look a little different in your kitchen with your flour.

This has been made using the steps and process you’ll find on my ‘how to make a starter’ page and in my full video.

Day 1

The first mix will be a thick paste

Day 2

By the second day it will have relaxed and spread a little and the surface may have become darker, this is normal.
This will happen with my wholegrain flour.

Day 3

You may now start to see some activity.

Day 4

The mix will now start to show some growth and activity
And maybe n undulating surface

Day 5

You may now see some exciting looking activity and growth

Day 6

It may be a bit quieter again today, or not.

Day 7

By day 7 it should be active and growing happily
Time to use it!

If you are not sure if your starter is ready to use, continue to alternately feed it/discard and feed for a few more days until it grows several hours after feeding 3 days in a row, then give it a test run!

Dispelling sourdough starter myths…

Okay, let’s dispel some myths about sourdough starters, these are all from the various things I’ve read and get asked:

You don’t need to wait at least 14 days to use a starter.
Your starter doesn’t need to rise and fall 28 days in a row before you can use it.
You don’t need to keep them at a particular warm temperature.
You don’t need starter heating gadgets.
You don’t need special water.
You don’t need to stir your starter with a wooden spoon.
Your starter doesn’t need to grow in 4 hours.
You don’t need to discard starter ever again once it’s ready to use.
You don’t need big jars of discard to make ‘discard’ or fast recipes.
You don’t need to feed your starter two or three times, or for several days, to ‘build it up’ ready to use to make dough.

These are just a few of the common things I come across, there’s more, but these are the main ones, regarding starter anyway…so the facts are:

You can use your starter to make dough as soon as it routinely grows after feeding, for me, if it’s grown after feeding on days 4, 5 and 6, then by day 7 I’ll use it to make dough. Aim for yours to grow after feeding 3 days in a row, then use it.
You can use starter from any age in discard/fast recipes, I’ve used starter from 3 days old to make various recipes.
Your tap water is fine for your starter, it’s only in very rare cases that it isn’t.
Your kitchen counter is all you need to make your starter, if it’s really cold, you might want to find a warm spot for short periods of time but that’s all (see previous post about this).
You can stir your starter with stainless steel cutlery, the old adage about metal spoons being bad for starters is based on a time when metal wasn’t the quality we have now and would contaminate starters. Nowadays, stainless steel is perfect and wood/plastic utensils are more likely to carry odours or leftovers from other food stuffs.
You don’t need to collect ‘discard’ to make those kind of recipes, all you need to do is feed your starter produce what the recipe needs. It’s all just starter.
Your starter doesn’t ’have’ to grow and be ready to use in 4 hours, the time it takes to be ready to use will solely depend on your room temp, and if that is indeed 4 hours, that great, but it’s not a requirement or a fixed rule.
You only need to feed your starter once in preparation to use it, all this feeding it 3 times, or for 4 days before using is unnecessary and wasteful.

I hope these tips are helpful. Find more starter tips here.

A plea to stop over heating starters…

This is a copy of a post I added to my Facebook page that I am copying here because I want it logged on my website too…

This autumn and into winter, I have seen a real trend for overheating starters, and consequently many poor starters are over fermenting, and getting thin and hungry as a result from being too warm for too long.

The fact is: A thin starter is a weak starter and will not lift a dough. And by putting starters in so much warmth for so long that’s what will happen.

So please pass this onto anyone you think it might help:

First and fore mostly, please tell anyone that you see doing do so, to stop putting their starters in warm places, places like ovens with pilot lights on/the top of the fridge/the airing cupboard/near the stove/by your Aga/or by wood burners, for hours on end, and days and nights at a time. It’s much too warm for much too long. The starter will ferment like mad and get thin and weak as a result.

I understand that people worry when it gets cold, but I’ve just made 14 brand new starters in my kitchen over the last week, including the one above, and they all just sat on my kitchen counter, at whatever the temperatures happened to be, which happened to be between 13C – 19C that week, and did their thing very happily. I didn’t put them anywhere special, or anywhere warm, just on my kitchen counter.

The fact is: They really do not need to be coddled so much.

A little bit of warmth is fine, but mostly your kitchen counter, or some part of your kitchen, is ideal. You don’t need special gadgets or anything else just your kitchen counter.

I understand that people worry about starters, especially new ones, but they really are far more resilient than people think, just give them a chance to do their thing…yes, some need tweaks along the way, but they don’t need to be cooked.

These are the facts:

If your starter is growing quickly, getting almost frothy, it’s too warm.
If it’s got a layer of dark liquid on the top, it’s too warm.
If it’s got a flat surface with teeny tiny bubbles it’s become thin from being too warm.
If it smells very strongly of acetone, or just very strongly at all, it’s too warm.

These scenarios can all be fixed by feeding your starter less water than flour, making it nice and thick again, then continuing on with the process, on the counter.

Follow the process, follow my tips, and it will be fab!

How to make a sourdough starter, the full step by step video…

You can now watch the full steps of how to make a sourdough starter on my YouTube channel, everything you need to know all in one place!

Find it HERE

Happy making!

Some top tips for your dough making..

Give your dough the time it needs to fully prove.

Watch your dough and not the clock, this is key to ensuring the dough proves as it needs to.

Do not leave dough on the oven overnight with the light on, it?s too warm for too long and it will over prove.

Give your dough time to double overnight; depending on the temperature overnight this may take shorter or longer than my usual times stated in my master recipe.

But if your dough does over prove, use it to make fabulous focaccia or flatbreads. NEVER EVER throw dough away, always use it.

If you dough spreads when you turn it out in the pan, but bakes up to a lovely loaf, don?t worry about the spreading, enjoy your loaf.

If your dough does not look like mine but bakes to a fabulous loaf, that is perfect, it does not matter what the dough looks like if the loaf is everything you hoped for.

Sourdough is a wonderfully slow process, let it happen and enjoy it, it will be worth it.

If you do not have a banneton, line a same sized bowl with a clean tea towel and sprinkle it with rice flour.

If you do not have rice flour, grind some uncooked rice, it is the same thing.

You can use any covered oven proof pan just make sure it is big enough.

You do not need to preheat your oven, or your pan.

Always my biggest and most important tip: If it tastes good IT IS GOOD!

Do not focus on looks and holes and scoring, they do not make it taste any better, plus sourdough is not defined by having ears, or being big round loaves, or full of holes. Sourdough is bread that has been made with a sourdough starter, that is it.

Enjoy what you are creating, do not spoil it by being pulled into the beauty contest.

But, if your loaves are not as you hoped, there?s always ALWAYS a particular reason and an easy tweak.

Check out all of the info throughout my site about flour, weather, scoring, storing, the FAQs, baking times takes, there is lots of free info here for you.

These are just some of the tips I share regularly, but are hopefully useful. Happy baking!