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Russian Black Bread

by practicewithdanielle
This loaf of Russian Black Bread produces the most incredible flavor, locked inside a crunchy exterior a soft cake-like interior!

Few things in life make me feel as productive as baking a fresh loaf of bread. It’s so satisfying to knead the dough with your hands, let the yeast go to work, then watch the heat explode it in the oven to produce a crunchy outside and light and airy inside.

This bread was frustrating at first. I couldn’t find a recipe that produced a loaf I actually wanted to eat. So I made loaf after loaf until I got it right.

And got it right I did…

Russian black bread loaf on a countertop with flour and seeds

I can’t think of another bread I want to sit and slather butter on more than this one. It’s not like french bread, where you can eat an entire baguette and at the end be like “what just happened?“.

This bread is PACKED with flavor. And I’m not just saying that. You’ve got shallots, molasses, chocolate, fennel and caraway seeds. If that doesn’t smack you in the face while you eat it, IDK what will.

Russian black bread loaf on a countertop with flour and seeds with a small bowl with butter

It’s got a crunchy outside and fairly dense – almost cake-like – inside. This is fill-you-up bread. Satisfying to eat – it’s unlike anything I’ve tasted before.

Russian Black Bread, sliced into chunks on a white countertop with a small bowl with butter

If you’ve got caviar (ok we get it schmancy pants), this is your chance to eat it. On this bread. With an absurd amount of butter.

No caviar? Flaked sea salt was my replacement.

Russian Black Bread, sliced into chunks on a white countertop with a small bowl with butter

One last note – I tend to shy away from recipes with a thousand ingredients. If you’ve got a well stocked kitchen, you likely have most of these items. If not, I get it. I’ve made some suggestions with replacements below in case you don’t want to buy a bunch of random ingredients to make this loaf.

I will say, the absurd ingredient list is what gives this bread such complex flavor – so go for it!

Adapted from The Bread Bible, by Beth Hensperger 

Russian black bread loaf on a countertop with flour and seeds

Russian Black Bread

(Start making 4 hours before you want Russian Black Bread)

1 package active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups water
1/8 cup molasses (could try a dark honey)
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp cacao (can also use .5 oz of unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder)
1/2 tbsp espresso powder
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour (or use more rye / ap flour mix)
1 1/2 cups rye flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground flax seeds (or bran)
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp minced shallots
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp rye flour
1/2 tsp caraway seeds

Start by mixing the first three ingredients together: warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Let stand while you work on the other ingredients.

In a medium bowl, mix water, molasses, apple cider vinegar, butter, cacao and espresso powder. Heat in the microwave for like 30 seconds or so to melt the butter.

In a medium bowl mix together the flours.

In a large bowl, mix ground flax seeds, caraway, fennel, salt and shallots. Add the yeast mixture and chocolate/molasses mixture and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of flour mixture at a time until the dough starts to become very challenging to mix.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. The dough will be a little sticky but firm. The original recipe states you may not need to add all the flour but I definitely did.

Lightly grease a bowl and let the dough rest, covered, in a warm area for 2 hours. The dough will double in size.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Form into a round loaf and place on a parchment lined pan that will eventually go into the oven. Mix the remaining flours and caraway seeds and sprinkle over the top of the loaf. Let rest for another hour.

Turn the oven to 350F. Right before you put the loaf in the oven, mark an X on the top. Then bake for about 50 minutes (your house will smell incredible about halfway through).

Sure, you could let this rest before you tear into it, but why?


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