18 March 2012

Black Bread

A relaxing weekend and I so enjoyed being back in my kitchen, I have missed it these last few weeks.  For me it is my little haven of comfort and that led me to the need to bake.  Looking at my ever-growing list of things I want to make this Black Bread jumped out at me and straight to the top of the list.  I had spotted this Black Bread on Heidi Swanson's blog 101 Cookbooks back in January.  I am a fan of just about any bread but this one seemed quite special the ingredients including cocoa powder, coffee, caraway and molasses.  

My first attempt was more of a flat bread, though still delicious.  My dough did indeed double in size just out and all over the tray rather than up!  So my second attempt I used a deeper dish to allow the rising in the right direction.  The first time round I used honey and it does make for a slightly lighter less rich bread. Second time I went with the molasses and it delivers a wonderfully richer and darker bread. This does make quite a large loaf, actually very large loaf, so next time, and there will definitely be a next time, I think I will make 2 smaller loaves.

Black Bread, adapted only slightly from 101 Cookbooks


2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
320 - 400 ml warm water*
1 tsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp finely ground espresso beans 
1/4 cup molasses or honey
3 tsp caraway seeds, plus some for topping
2 tsp fine grain sea salt
2 carrots, coarsely grated.  You want about 2 cups of carrot.
200g rye flour
380g white spelt flour, plus a little more for dusting
Olive oil for kneading and oiling the baking tin
2 tbsp milk or water

*I found 320 ml to be ample and even added a couple more tablespoons of flour as it was quite a sticky dough.


In a small bowl whisk together the yeast, warm water and sugar.  Set it aside until the yeast blooms and becomes foamy.  If in doubt start again as no blooming will result in a potentially dangerous missile rather than a delicious loaf of home baked breads.  I learnt that last year with my dismal attempt at hot cross buns that were more rock cakes, literally.

While the yeast is working its magic add the cocoa, coffee, molasses, caraway, butter and salt to a small saucepan.  Gently melt the mixture over a low heat, it should be lukewarm when added to the other ingredients.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of mixer, add the carrots, the yeast and molasses mixture.  Mix it all together and then add the flours and stir until you have a quite soft sticky dough.  My dough was a little too sticky so I added another couple of tablespoons of flour.  If your dough is too dry add a little more water.  At this point you can turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and need for 5 minutes or  you can do it with the dough hook on your mixture.  After 5 minutes the dough should be quite elastic.

Gently shape the dough in to a ball and rub it with a little olive oil.  Place the dough seam-side down in to a large oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl and place in a warm spot for 1-2 hours until the dough has increased in size, at least half as big again.  

Gently press down on the dough with a closed fist and then turn out the dough in to an oiled baking tin.  I used a 9" square 3" deep dish.  Cover it loosely with a floured tea towel and pop it back in to its cozy corner to rise again for another hour until it has doubled in size.

When it has risen, brush the dough with a little milk or water, sprinkle over a little flour and scatter a teaspoon of caraway seeds.  Gently cut a cross in the dough, gently as you don't want to deflate the loaf.

Place the loaf in a 220C/425F pre heated oven for 20 minutes and then turn the heat down to 180C/350F and bake for a further 20-25 minutes until the bread is cooked through.  Tap the loaf and if it sounds hollow it is ready.  Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack, if you can, I couldn't. I can't go past bread straight out the oven, butter melting.

This bread is quite wonderful, not for the faint hearted it is rustic and most definitely not shy. Using the molasses, rather than honey, adds a real dark treacly richness and depth of flavour that is then spiked with caraway. It is perfect just with butter but I think I will be taking Heidi's recommendation and having it with a little grilled cheese for lunch.

If you like this you might like this Seedy Oaty Bread



  1. Hi
    It sounds really interesting - I cant quite work out if its sweet or savoury?
    Maybe its like cheese scones - i love them with jam!!! So Black bread with cheese is just the opposite...
    Vanessa @ Foodopera

    1. I think it could be sweet or savoury....but very good with cheese :)

  2. Wow, this is a complete meal in its own right!! I think it has to be with cheese for me :-).


    1. Thanks Alessandra....it was fantastic with melted cheese :)

  3. Ohhh, I love black bread and haven't made it in ages - I've made James Beard's recipe but will definitely bake this one next. Thank you for sharing it! I could go for a loaf right now to begin my week. Baking always makes for a relaxing weekend, doesn't it?

    1. Thanks Hannah, I had never come across it before....but I am definitely a convert. And yes bring on more weekends of baking....so relaxing and the neighbours love it too as they get to be the guinea pigs!


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