Monday, 16 July 2012

Russian Black Bread


This bread has some seriously weird ingredients. It's the only time I ever use coffee, chocolate AND shallots in one bread. I've used coffee in a cinnamon bun and coffee scroll dough and I've made LOTS of chocolate breads. I've used shallots to sprinkle on Bronx-Worthy Bagels (actually, they were re-hydrated dried minced onions, but same/same) and on top of focaccia. But I've never used all three together in one bread until this one... And don't get me started on the apple cider vinegar and molasses! When you see this list of ingredients, I bet you think "that's crazy". But it works. It really does. Let's face it, 143,100,000 Russians can't be wrong.

(The last few photos were taken 28/3/2018... I couldn't help myself.)

Russian Black Bread
Makes 2 loaves

1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1/2 cup warm water (43 to 46 degrees C)
2 cups water
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
60g tablespoons unsalted butter
30g unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
3 cups medium rye flour
3 cups unbleached, plain or bread flour
1 cup bran
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/4 cup cornmeal (optional)
1 tablespoon unbleached plain flour (optional)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)

Special equipment: Spice grinder (optional), instant-read thermometer

In a small bowl, combine yeast and sugar with warm water. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Heat two cups water, molasses, vinegar, butter and chocolate until the butter and chocolate are melted. Set aside.

Combine wholemeal, rye and white flours in a large bowl. Set aside.

In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine two cups mixed flours, bran, 2 tablespoons caraway seeds, fennel seeds, salt, espresso and shallots. At low speed, add yeast and chocolate mixtures. Mix until smooth and beat at medium speed for three minutes. (If you don’t like whole seeds in your bread, grinding them in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle allows their flavor to come through without the texture)

At low speed, add half cup of remaining mixed flours at a time, until dough clears sides of bowl and begins to work its way up paddle. It will be very sticky but firm.

Scrape dough off paddle, flour counter well, and knead to make a springy yet dense dough. You might not use all of the flour mixture.

Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Combine cornmeal, flour and remaining caraway seeds, if using, and set aside.

Gently deflate dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two portions and form into two rounds or loaves. Loaves should be placed in a loaf pan sprayed with nonstick spray, while rounds should be placed seam down on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle loaves with cornmeal mixture, if using. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled and puffy, about 45 minutes to one hour. Slash an X into the top of a round before baking it; no such slashing is needed for bread in a loaf pan.

Bake in a preheated 175 degrees C oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until loaves are well-browned, or register an internal temperature of 93 to 99 degrees C on an instant-read thermometer. Baking time in your oven may vary — check in on the bread when it is 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the baking time to make sure it has not super-speedily baked. Remove from baking sheet to cool completely on a rack.


  1. Ah! I keep meaning to make this bread. I'll be honest, the ingredients definitely scares me. I grew up with this bread and I really miss it. I don't know why it's taking me so long to get to finally making it.

  2. Don't let the ingredients put you off Olga. It's delicious bread, I promise.