Thursday, January 21, 2010

Black Bread





From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is a European peasant bread that gets its color from the ingredients used to make it. Black bread can range in hue from cocoa brown to a near ebony, depending on the nationality of the cook who bakes it. Each of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe have their own version of the bread. All of these "black" breads are made with made with a base of rye flour, but because of its low gluten content the rye is mixed with higher gluten grains to produce lighter and higher loaves. True or not, many people believe black bread is extraordinarily nutritious and can sustain life on its own for long periods of time. They point to the siege of Leningrad, where rationed portions of the bread are reported to have kept the population alive for 3-1/2 years. While I believe bread is the staff of life, I think that this narrow view overlooks the fact that a huge percentage of the population died of starvation during that period. Leningrad is probably a better example of survival of the fittest than a paean to the merits of black bread. I digress. Sorry. Today's black bread comes from an old recipe developed by James Beard. It lacks the velvet grain of a German pumpernickel, but has a flavor that's hard to beat. Like many of Beard's recipes, this bread claims no country as its own. It takes the best of several breads from several countries and kneads them into a singular, flavorful loaf that's sure to please. Here's the recipe.

Black Bread...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, courtesy of James Beard

Ingredients:
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon instant coffee
4-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water + additional water as needed to form dough
2 cups dark rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached flour + additional flour for kneading
1 egg white beaten with 2 tablespoons flour

Directions:
1) Add cornmeal to cold water and mix in a bowl. Pour mixture into saucepan containing boiling water. Stir until thick and bubbling. Add butter, salt, sugar, caraway seeds, cocoa and instant coffee. Stir well. Remove from heat.
2) Place yeast in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup warm water; stir to dissolve. Add flours, adding more warm water as required tp produce a thick, sticky dough. Turn onto a floured board. Knead, adding more flour if required, to form a firm but elastic dough. Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat dough on all side. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch dough down and knead on a lightly floured surface for 2 to 3 minutes. Divide dough into 2 portions and shape into two free-form loaves. Place on baking sheets covered with cornmeal. Allow to rise until almost doubled in bulk. Brush bread with beaten egg-white. Bake at 375 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow. Transfer to cooling racks. Yield: 2 loaves.

This recipe is linked to:
Wild Yeast - Yeast Spotting

38 comments:

Joy said...

This is one I would love to try! What a beautiful combination of flavours.

Jamie said...

A fabulous cook and you bake bread too? And as perfect as this? Oh, Mary, I need to sign up for cooking classes with you! Perfect bread and I'll bet the flavor is deep and rich. Cream cheese anyone?

hip chick said...

I love black bread and can't wait to give this one a try. I won't be adding the caraway though. I can never figure out how all that yuck can come out of that tiny little seed.

Jolita said...

I grew up eating dark bread and this is one of the things that I miss here in Turkey. I hope I'll try this recipe one day!

The Blonde Duck said...

It sounds delectable.

Martha said...

Oh, black bread -- a treat indeed!

My Little Space said...

What a marvellous bake!

Pam said...

I love black bread. I can make a meal out of it alone!

Cathy (breadexperience) said...

This bread sounds delicious! I love the color. Thanks for sharing!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

The bread looks delicious..with a little butter and maybe some cheese...heaven!
Susan

Hootin' Anni said...

Black, Russian Rye bread...the darker the better! AND of course, tons of caraway seeds.

This looks delicious Mary.

A Year on the Grill said...

loving bread!!!

Coffee... interesting, need to give this a shot!

LDH said...

Copied this recipe... I have all of the ingredients... maybe I can get to it this weekend! As always, it is a joy to visit with you!

Southerncook said...

Mary, This bread recipe looks and sounds soooooo yummy. Thanks for sharing.

Carolyn/ A Southerners Notebook

Stine in Ontario said...

I bet this tastes wonderful...so I'copying the recipe. Thanks!

Carol at Serendipity said...

Mary,
Another winner I am sure! Looks delicious.

Carol

Johnny Nutcase said...

thanks for the info, the bread looks and sounds pretty tasty! nothing better than freshbaked bread!

George Gaston said...

Mary, a crusty pumpernickel has always be a weakness and yours looks delicious. Many thanks...

Federica said...

splendido questo pane! deve essere buonissimo!

Jeanette said...

I make a similar black bread a couple of times a year, I think I will try this one to switch it up a little.

Alessandra said...

Wow, fantastic...and to put coffee in it...totally new for me :-)

Twin Tables said...

Mary, would you say the second rising should take about an hour as well or only 30 mintues or so? This sounds wonderful!

Mary said...

Twin Tables, because you're not looking for a complete double in volume 45 minutes max should do the trick.

The Chef In My Head said...

Dear Mary, I simply have to get over my fear of bread!! This looks so good, my husband would love it! -LeslieMichele

DailyChef said...

ohh, I haven't had black bread in way too long. Thanks for reminding me--and this time I'll try your recipe. It looks great!

Bridgett said...

I have never tried Black Bread before but it sounds so interesting. I can imagine the flavor is so rich and full.
Your photos are gorgeous as well.

Wobegon Cottage(alice) said...

would it make any difference if I used the dough hook on my kitchen-aid and let it do the kneading for me? This would go good with the sauerbraten recipe I just found.

Mary said...

Alice, go ahead and use the dough hook, but remember this is a sticky dough and you'll have to keep your eye on it to make sure you machine doesn't overheat. Blessings...Mary

Debbie said...

It looks delicious and I would love a slice with some honey butter!

Chef Aimee said...

I never liked black bread as a child, but as an adult, I crave it. THanks for sharing this - the coffee element is most amazing!

Velva said...

Mary, this version of black bread served up with a great cheese and a bottle of wine would be divine.

Donna-FFW said...

I love the thought of the coffee flavor in there. My first thought was.. I'd like that toasted with some butter..

Claudia said...

I do love black breads. It really just needs butter (and not much). Cheese would be good... cheese and tomato... oh dear - dreaming of black bread - specifically your scrumptious one. James Beard wins again.

zurin said...

That is one beautiful loaf!!!

Lori said...

This looks wonderful. I love dark breads.

Katy ~ said...

A beautiful loaf. A real favorite with me, too!

Joanne said...

Thanks for the history of this bread! I love how it has coffee, caraway, and cocoa in it. The three C's of deliciousness.

Anonymous said...

Let me warn everyone (as a dedicated bread baker). This recipe is faulty. First of all, in the instructions, parts 1 and 2 are not connected. Part 2 doesn't know about the saucepan. Who ever wrote this sure didn't proofread it! I think the instructions should tell people to mix the saucepan contents into the yeast mixture before adding the four. Secondly, the instructions should have one "proof" the yeast. That is, give it ten minutes or so after mixing the yeast with water, ideally with a bit of sugar.

Now, it makes a nice bread, but I'd like to believe that James could have explained it better.

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