Fuzz is on a school trip to Russia, so in her honor today’s recipe is Russian Black Bread. This is one of two loaves I made before she left, so she did get to taste it. Now she can compare this bread to actual black bread served in Russia!
The recipe is from a little bread baking book I bought at a garage sale years ago, and it seems pretty authentic. In fact, there’s a very similar version on The Russian Report. This version doesn’t have onion, but rather a lot of other good things including chocolate, coffee, ground fennel and caraway. The two flours are all-purpose and dark rye, and there’s just enough molasses to give it a hint of sweetness, though it’s a perfect accompaniment to a savory meal.
Lastly, the bread has a strange cornstarch glaze. Brushing a loaf of bread with cornstarch was new to me, but it gave the bread a nice shiny finish.
Update: Fuzz came back from Russia with a new appreciation for Russian Black Bread. In fact, I think it’s her favorite bread of all time. Given that, I’ve made this recipe several times since and have added a few more notes. Also, here are some pictures of the dough. In the first photo it has risen.
This second photo shows it after I’ve punched it down and shaped it into a ball.
- 1 3/4 cup rye flour, I used Bob's Dark Rye -- 1/2 pound
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour -- 1/2 pound
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups Raisin bran or 1 cup of All Bran
- About 1 tablespoon caraway seed, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed (I usually leave out)
- A teaspoon of espresso powder
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) quick rising yeast
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons dark molasses
- 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon of cold water.
- Combine the rye and white flours. Put 2 cups of the flour mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add all the remaining dry ingredients and stir well.
- In a saucepan, combine water, vinegar, molasses, chocolate and butter and heat until chocolate melts, stirring often. Let the temperature cool down to 125 degrees F , then add to the dry mixture in the bowl. Stir well, then gradually add remaining flour mixture until you have a soft dough. If you weighed the flour, you will probably need all of it. Conversely, if for some reason your dough is too sticky, you may need a little more. It should just barely pull away from the side of the bowl as it is being kneaded.
- Put the mixing bowl on the stand, attach the dough hook, and let the machine knead for 10 minutes. Turn dough into an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).
- Cover bowl and let rise in a warm (100 degree F) place. When dough has doubled, punch it down and shape into two balls. Place each ball in a greased 8 inch round pan. Let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes).
- Bake the loaves in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. When the bread is almost done baking, begin making the glaze.
- To make the glaze, bring 1/4 cup water to a boil. Add the dissolved cornstarch/cold water mixture and boil until thickened. Brush this over the baked bread.