Black Bread

We took care of the chores early today. Fed the horses, pumped diesel into the big tank to feed the generator and then back to the horses to set them free. I loaded the big fuel barrels back out on to the lake for the next delivery and then headed to the house for a little cleaning. All was done by about 1 PM so that left me plenty of time for baking, knitting and tea.

Russian Black Bread
Adapted from: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/04/black-bread/ (I love this website)

Black Bread

Black Bread

This bread has a very long ingredient list but I made some substitutions and left some things out and this bread still came out delicious. It had a great flavor, a dense but soft texture and a nice crust. Perfect with jam or for sandwiches.

Makes 2 loaves

2 packages (1 1/2 tablespoons) active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1/2 cup warm water

2 cups water
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
3 cups medium rye flour
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose
1 cup bran ( I left this out and just added a little extra flour)
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (I used anise seeds)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder ( I used regular instant coffee)
1 tablespoon minced shallots (I used onions)

1/4 cup cornmeal (optional)
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour (optional)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)

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

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

3. Combine whole-wheat, rye and white flours in a large bowl. Set aside.

4. Combine two cups mixed flours, bran, 2 tablespoons caraway seeds, fennel seeds, salt, espresso and shallots. At low speed (or with a wooden spoon), add yeast and chocolate mixtures. Mix until smooth and beat at medium speed for three minutes.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until loaves are well-browned, or register an internal temperature of 200 to 210°F on an instant-read thermometer. Baking time in your oven may vary. Remove from baking sheet to cool completely on a rack. Enjoy!

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