New Food Friday – Russian Black Bread

17 Jan

I have a childhood friend who is originally from Estonia. A little bit of a history lesson is worth mentioning here. Estonia was part of the Russian empire until 1918 when it proclaimed its independence. 

The Russian Basilica-Tallinn, Estonia

The Russian Basilica-Tallinn, Estonia ( sx937)

It was  incorporated into the USSR in 1940 by force but regained its freedom in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last Russian troops left in 1994. Tallinn Capital of Estonia

Tallinn, Capital of Estonia (  gundolf)

Today, the Estonian economy has one of the higher GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates in Europe.

So, back to my childhood friend. One day my friend gave me a loaf of black bread. I don’t remember if she said it was Estonian black bread or Russian black bread. Maybe they’re one in the same. Anyway, it was delicious! Now, many years later, I have found a recipe in one of my cookbooks for Russian Black Bread. I will share it with you for this New Food Friday.

This recipe makes two round loaves. The bread is delicious, reminiscent of the loaf my Estonian friend gave me and I will definitely make it again. It is made with chocolate, coffee, and molasses. It is a dark color (hence the name black bread) and looks chocolatey! You can almost taste the chocolate and almost taste the coffee. However, it is not a sweet bread. It has a slight sour taste similar to a sour dough bread because of the rye flour and maybe the vinegar but this taste seemed to dissipate after the first day and the chocolate flavor became more pronounced instead.

I’ve already finished off one loaf. I stored the other in the freezer and then let it defrost in the refrigerator when I wanted more. It is just as delicious as the first loaf. In fact, I believe I noticed that the bread tasted even better the day after I baked it and it kept well in the refrigerator. I usually sliced off 3 ounces for my meal, buttered it, and let it warm to room temperature.

This bread can vary somewhat in flavor depending on the type of chocolate you use or the type of coffee you use. The recipe also calls for bran cereal so depending on the type of cereal you use, that can also alter the taste. However, I doubt that the varieties you use would make that much difference. Just use the best ingredients that you can afford. There are a lot of ingredients!

4 cups unsifted rye flour

3 cups unsifted white flour

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups whole bran cereal

2 tablespoons caraway seed, crushed

2 teaspoons Instant Coffee

2 teaspoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed

2 packages active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup vinegar

1/4 cup dark molasses

1 square (1-ounce) unsweetened chocolate

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 cup cold water

Combine rye and white flours. Mix 2  1/3 cups of the combined flour mixture with the sugar, salt, cereal, caraway seed, coffee, onion powder, fennel seed, and undissolved yeast.

Combine 2 1/2 cups water, vinegar, molasses, chocolate, and margarine or butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquids are very warm (120 – 130 degrees). Margarine and chocolate do not need to melt. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of an electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/2 cup flour mixture. Beat at high speed 2 minutes.

Russian Black Bread Batter

Russian Black Bread Batter

Stir in enough additional flour mixture to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board. Cover; let rest 15 minutes. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 15 minutes. Dough may be sticky. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk. about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured board. Divide in half. shape each half into a ball about 5 inches in diameter. Place each ball in the center of a greased 8-inch round cake pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. I like to let my bread rise in the microwave with a cup of very hot water. This is a draft-free environment and the cup of hot water makes the small area warm enough for the dough to rise. Important, don’t turn on the microwave!

Russian Black Bread Rising in Microwave

Russian Black Bread Rising in Microwave with Hot Water

Bake at 350 degrees 45 to 50 minutes until done. Meanwhile, combine cornstarch and cold water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil; continue to cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. As soon as bread is baked, brush cornstarch mixture over top of loaves. Return bread to oven and bake 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until glaze is set. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Russian Black Bread Cooling

Russian Black Bread Cooling

This recipe comes from my Fleischmann’s Bake-it-easy Yeast Book. I hope you bake this. It’s very good and has a lot of nutritional value! Das vadanya!



18 Responses to “New Food Friday – Russian Black Bread”

  1. Anonymous October 19, 2015 at 12:21 pm #



  2. Jodee January 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Thank you for the information. It is always great to learn. And the recipe … I definitely will try it.


    • Marcella Rousseau January 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

      I don’t know if you are a beginner baker but if you get stuck or are confused about the recipe, contact me and I will be glad to help you. I tried to make the recipe clearer than was written in the original recipe in my book. I had to read it over a few times before I realized what they were saying!


  3. Gerard Villanueva January 18, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    Wow, I never thought of using the microwave as a proofing box. I need to try that when the kitchen is a little on the cool side. That looks like a very tasty bread, good for all kinds of ways to eat! I’m still getting used to handling wet and sticky doughs. It’s kind of amazing that all those different ingredients blended together make a great tasting bread. One of my first sourdough loaves was a black bread I made in a Pullman loaf pan. I also noticed that the taste evolves and improves over a few days. I’ve experienced that with some whole wheat bread I’ve made. Beautiful looking loaves there Marcella!


    • Marcella Rousseau January 19, 2014 at 10:35 am #

      Yes, the microwave is my favorite place to raise dough. It’s out of the way and my microwave is a big one. I’ve had it since when they first came out – a long time! I have very little space in my kitchen so I have to be resourceful. I was a little hesitant when I read the ingredient list but I’ve made a lot of the recipes from the book I mentioned and they were all good so there was no reason for me to doubt this one. A-ha! So I wasn’t imagining things when the flavor changed. Thanks for mentioning that. I’m looking forward to making them again. I still have your pumpkin-raisin bread left. I put a loaf in the freezer and that is the one I’ve been eating lately. I was surprised that it went well with an omelet and also with pea soup! Thank you!


  4. bragnbutter January 18, 2014 at 4:20 am #

    That looks – and sounds! – delicious. I love the flavor combination of caraway, fennel and onion plus chocolate, really intriguing. I like when bakeries use the “old fashioned” – or rather: classic – bread spice mixture of caraway, fennel and coriander. Also thanks for the idea of brushing the finished loafs to make them crackling and shiny. I imagine this lovely with some old cheese – what do you prefer with it?


    • Marcella Rousseau January 19, 2014 at 10:51 am #

      Well, you’ll think I’m crazy but I love bread so much that sometimes I eat it as dessert! All I put on this Russian Black Bread is a buttery spread. I don’t think I’d want cheese on it. I don’t know. I would have to make it a lot of times to start to want to experiment with toppings. This was my first time making it and I wanted to enjoy the flavor of the bread. I loved the slightly chocolatey flavor. Brushing the loaves with the cornstarch mixture was a new one on me. I never heard of that before. I heard of brushing loaves with an egg white/water mixture or melted butter but never cornstarch. You could probably leave that step out because it didn’t make much difference in the appearance of the loaves! If you make it and pair it with cheese, let me know!


  5. Three Well Beings January 18, 2014 at 1:29 am #

    I am really happy to have a good recipe for Russian Black Bread. I’ve heard of it before, but have never had the opportunity to taste it. It has such wonderful ingredients, I can’t wait to give it a try! 🙂


    • Marcella Rousseau January 19, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      Let me know what you think when you make it. I need to buy more caraway seeds before I can make it again.


  6. silverbells2012 January 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Sadly, my oven doesn’t work but it sounds like the bread would make an interesting change!


    • Marcella Rousseau January 17, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      Awww, your oven doesn’t work? What happened? I rarely use mine anymore. Do you have a toaster oven? You might be able to make one loaf at a time in it. I love mine. It’s a convection toaster oven. I’ve had it 1 year and got it on Amazon. I paid around $89.00. It’s an Oster.


      • silverbells2012 January 17, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

        The person I bought my house off failed to inform me the oven had a problem. I can make toast in it so I think it is simply a case of getting a cooker expert to have a look at it.. There always seems to be sonething else to do instead but most of the time I find another way to do the cooking. Maybe this recipe could be adapted for a breadmaker?!


        • Marcella Rousseau January 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

          That wasn’t very nice of them. Mine failed to tell me my oven vent doesn’t vent to the outdoors! So, if I burn anything, the house fills up with smoke and I have to open up all the doors! (The patio doors, the door to the garage, the front door.) LOL. I don’t know much about breadmakers but I don’t see why not. As resourceful as you are, I’m sure you could figure out a way to do it. Can you get a bread to have a crusty top in a breadmaker?


          • silverbells2012 January 18, 2014 at 11:06 am #

            Unfortunately, the breadmaker doesn’t do crusts like a conventional oven. I will try out your recipe though to see how it goes, once I’ve got the necessary ingredients 🙂

            Having your house fill up with smoke is definitely not what you want. Design fault there!


      • silverbells2012 January 17, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

        Good price for your toaster oven, though!


        • Marcella Rousseau January 17, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

          Yes! I thought so! And I just made it by sheer minutes because it was a special sale that would go off at midnight if I remember correctly. I was rushing like heck! I had been researching convection toaster ovens for days and I liked the Oster the best. It got a good write-up on Consumer Reports.


  7. bakeaffairs January 17, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Looks delicious!


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