Black Charcoal Sourdough Loaf | Halloween Bread Recipe

This black charcoal sourdough bread is the perfect spooky Halloween bake. It has a light and open crumb and super soft texture. Goji berries popping with sweetness and contrasting the blackness with their bright red colour it is sure to impress anyone.

Activated charcoal is commonly used to help with digestion, but it is also quite popular for creating black foods. It has no flavour so the only thing you get from it is the colour. Goji berries are sweet and tangy, and they are a superfood. Since the bread is naturally leavened, we have all kinds of heathy things going on in here. It may look dark and spooky, but it’s actually good for you.

You can find the charcoal powder and goji berries in my Amazon stores linked below. The bread only requires a little bit of each, but they have other uses so you do not have to worry about having bags of ingredients that will never get used up. Charcoal powder can be used to whiten teeth as funny as that may seem. And goji berries can be incorporated in your daily diet for extra vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

The recipe is straight forward made with a leaven and then cold proofed for extra flavour. You can modify the recipe and bake the bread on the same day if you like. Skull stencils are optional, but they do add to the theme. You can find them in my Amazon shop along with all the other equipment I use in my videos.

My starter and the leaven that I made are at 80% hydration. I have found that is the sweet spot for me personally as the lower hydration makes it more predictable and forgiving.

If you read this far, but you do not have a sourdough starter yet, then click here for more info.

Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.


For the leaven

100g (3.5oz) strong white bread flour

80g (2.8oz) water at room temperature if your kitchen is between 20C – 23C (68F – 73F). If it is cooler or warmer, then adjust the water temperature to compensate.

20g (0.7oz) active sourdough starter


For the main dough –

260g (9.2oz) strong white bread flour

40g (1.4oz) wholemeal flour

200g (7oz) cold water* I use filtered water which makes my starter happy.

8g (0.28oz) sea salt. Do not use table salt as it contains chemicals that will mess with proper fermentation.

8g (0.28oz) activated charcoal powder

40g (1.4oz) goji berries, soaked in water and drained.

*To learn more about dough temperature when using a preferment click here.


  1. Make the leaven. Mix the water, sourdough starter, and flour until there is no dry flour left. Cover and ferment for 12 – 16 hours or until almost tripled in volume. *If your leaven is ready, but you are not ready to make the dough yet, then simply pop it in the fridge to slow down fermentation. I do this all the time when making mid-week sourdough. The only thing you will need to adjust is the water temperature in the final dough as the leaven will be cold.
  2. Make the dough. In a large bowl combine the water, salt, wholemeal flour, and activated charcoal. Mix well to dissolve the salt and distribute the ingredients evenly. Add the leaven and the white flour. Mix until there is no dry flour left.
  3. Tip the dough out on your table and knead for 10 minutes. If it is too sticky, then you can switch to the stretch & fold method. *Desired dough temperature 24C – 25C (75F – 77F). If your dough is warmer, then it will ferment more rapidly. If it is cooler, then it will take longer. Adjust proofing time accordingly.
  4. Cover and ferment for 1 hour.
  5. Brush the table with water and tip the dough out with the smooth side down. Spread it out to a thin rectangle. Sprinkle over the drained goji berries. Fold the dough up.
  6. Cover and ferment for 1 hour.
  7. Fold #2.
  8. Ferment for 1 hour.
  9. Fold #3.
  10. Ferment for 1 hour.
  11. Pre-shape
  12. Rest for 30 minutes.
  13. Final shape. Dust the loaf with flour and shake off any excess. Place it in a proofing basket smooth side down. Pinch the seam together at the bottom. Cover and cold proof for up to 24 hours. *One hour before baking preheat your oven and baking vessel to 230C (450F) fan off.
  14. Tip the loaf out on a piece of non-stick paper. Brush off any excess flour, then brush the loaf with water. Do the stencils.
  15. Score and bake with the lid on for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for 20 more minutes.
  16. Leave to cool down and enjoy!


Keep in mind that the conditions in each kitchen are different, so fermentation times may vary for you. It is up to the baker to control the bread and react accordingly.

Your oven may be different too, so your baking time may vary.

Watch the video here

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