Russian Black Bread Recipe

By request of several friends and relatives, this recipe is what I use for Russian Black Bread. Transcribed from the book as indicated.

Langer, Richard W.
“The Bread Machine Bakery Book,” (pub.) Little, Brown, 1991

Russian Black Bread, p.78

[Author’s recipe begins:]

Here’s one of my favorite breads. Still not as black as some of the loaves of European rye my memory conjures up, even with both cocoa and coffee added for color, it’s nevertheless very dark and moist and dense.

For all that, it’s fairly light in heft. One of the secrets here is the use of bread crumbs in the recipe. Such a reclamation of crumbs may seem the ultimate in modern recycling to bread machine owners with leftover loaves, but it’s an age-old custom serving a much more basic function. Bread crumbs add airiness, whether to a bread or dumplings or a torte.

You can use either store-bought crumbs, for convenience, or your own homemade variety (see the instructions on making bread crumbs in the chapter “After the Loaf.”) Toasting the crumbs is really worth the small effort involved. Tbey can be browned either in the oven or in a skillet over a burner.

For oven toasting, spread the crumbs out on a cookie sheet and pop them into a preheated 400-degree oven for eight to ten minutes or until they are a deep golden brown. For stovetop toasting, which I prefer because it’s quicker, put the crumbs in an ungreased steel fry pan over a medium to high flame. Stir continuously until the crumbs are the color of dark oak.

The bread crumbs in this recipe help to lighten the loaf, which would otherwise have the solidness characteristic of so many rye breads. You might note that in the list of ingredients the rye and whole-wheat flours appear first, before the liquids usually heading the roster.  This reversal is to improve the mixing, which otherwise is poor because of the large quantity of liquid this recipe calls for.

A good Russian black bread really deserves a fitting glaze. The standard one would be simply egg and water. But a mustard glaze goes very well with this loaf, and sesame seeds on top of that add a superlative burst of flavor.

The bread keeps well, although in our family it’s rarely allowed to do so because of its popularity. Great slabs of it with generous slices of meat and a favorite condiment between them make wonderful hearty sandwiches. Try it thinly sliced for canapés as well; it’s an excellent foil, both in flavor and appearance, for savory spreads.

1 cup rye flour

½ cup whole-wheat flour

2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons instant espresso [baker’s note: ground coffee seems to work fine as substitute]

2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or canola oil

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup toasted bread crumbs

1 tablespoon cocoa

2 teaspoons aniseed

1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds

¼ to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste

1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast


1 egg

1 tablespoon prepared whole-grain mustard

Sesame seeds, for garnish

Measure the rye and whole-wheat baking flours into the baking pan of your bread machine. Pour the water into a separate bowl or a large measuring cup and dissolve the instant espresso in it. Then transfer the dilute coffee to the baking pan, add the molasses, butter or canola oil, all-purpose flour, bread crumbs, cocoa, aniseed, caraway seeds, salt, and yeast. If your machine has a separate dispenser for leavening, the yeast should be placed there.

A full bake cycle is needed for this bread, to give the dough time to rise properly. As soon as the bread is baked, remove it from the pan. Whip the egg and mustard together and brush this mixture onto the hot loaf with a pastry brush. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Slip the loaf back into its pan and return it to the bread machine, where the residual heat will bake the glaze on.

[End of author’s recipe]

Phil’s Notes:

  1. Café Bustelo ground espresso seems to work fine for the espresso.
  2. In addition to the spices named in the recipe, I usually add half a tablespoon of dried minced onion.
  3. For the preference of my First Taster, I use a spice grinder (repurposed coffee mill) to fine-grind the caraway, anise, and minced onion. This has worked well so far.
  4. I don’t get a lot of rise out of this loaf. There’s a good chance it’s because of my lack of experience, because a recent loaf left all day in the machine appears to have _over_ risen, hit the lid, and collapsed.
  5. Because of (4), I recommend preparing this recipe on a dough cycle if you use a bread machine. Take it out, put it in a large (5×9) loaf pan which has been sprayed with oil or spread with shortening/lard. Proof it in the oven, and bake when it has risen to your satisfaction. Prepare for it to take a while, unless you have a good proofing temperature control available.
  6. The coffee can be added to warm water along with the yeast and unsulphured molasses. The yeast seems not to notice the coffee, and continues merrily along eating the sugars, reproducing, and secreting carbon dioxide.
  7. For reasons of time and convenience, I have not yet made/applied the glaze mentioned in the recipe. If you do so and find it pleasant, please let me know.

–Phil Sevetson

Thanksgiving day – November 23, 2017


Once again, learning how to use a browser…

So, it’s been a while. Most of my online presence is on Facebook, and I go there by default to talk with my friends.  Despite its obvious shortcomings.

I ran into one of them just now: I can’t friend or comment on a guy whose friendlist is maxed out (5,000 people).

So I skated over to his WordPress page, and commented there… and WP required me to sign in… and told me that I was using the wrong password.  So… get the password reset link emailed, good. Change the password, good. Go back to page… and my comment has disappeared.

I get that crap like this can be the price we pay for security (such as it is) on line.  But … You know, it wasn’t that important a comment, and I’m not interested in retyping it, now that I’ve spent fifteen minutes making my way through the WordPress thicket.  I’m done here.

Protip: if you type up a good comment on a Web page, copy it to Notepad or a word processor or something before you hit “enter,” unless you don’t mind the possibility of losing it.  Okay, now I’m all done.

How do you keep history?

Okay, I have a problem. I put up a blog back in about 2003-2004 on, forgot about it for a bunch of years, just discovered it again thanks to an email from the site owner about making my blog have “more punch,” and I have no idea how to take those posts and put them somewhere that I won’t lose them again, at least no idea which will allow me to put them in entry files with dates on them somewhere. Any ideas?

Exercise and Diet

Recently seen: an article reporting recent research. Exercise is apparently not particularly effective in causing weight loss; apparently the body’s metabolism treats violent exercise as a starvation threat, and lowers the resting metabolism in an attempt to compensate.  To some extent, this is reported to also happen with reduced-eating diets.

However, other health benefits are confirmed to result from exercise, including reduced risk of stroke and heart attack, with the net result that exercise lengthens life expectancy.

A Death in the Family

Irene Paranay Lambert, Deb’s mom, was born in 1936. She turned 80 this month, while in hospital being treated for a broken hip, with complications.

She died of the complications yesterday, in hospice (two days after transfer to the hospice unit), while Al held her hand.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. (Mozart, Requiem)

I met her first at their home in Brookfield Center, Connecticut, in October or November 1984, introduced as a suitor for Deb’s hand. We were friends for 31 years.

I will miss her greatly.

Tang Soo Do

Exciting tournament. I did breaking. Want to do it again… with more boards!

On Sunday,  Mar 13, 2016 (Two days ago), I participated in a martial arts tournament for the first time in fifteen years.  Two contests were offered: forms and “breaking.”  I participated in breaking, as while I’m nominally 1 Dan, a “black belt” holder, the reality is that between May, 2004 and November, 2015, I did not practice my art, and have not regained the skills which are expected of the Black Belt.

The tournament was sponsored by and open to the Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation.  I helped judge (timekeeping) several of the younger underbelts and black belts, and saw performances ranging from indifferent to excellent.  I participated in the Men’s Over-40 Black Belt (Board-) Breaking division, and power-broke at the required three stations, breaking all my boards (four per station, no spacers between the boards), and receiving a respectable (average) score.

Then I went to watch the other contestants in my division.  I’m hoping to find that the videos that were taken of most of them are available, and I’ll post them here. It turns out that a “station” can involve multiple breaks (I hadn’t known), as many as you can do without moving your feet.  So… the guy who took first place, Brian Murray, a 3 Dan in my club, did a series of breaks which is absolutely in another league from what I did. Incredible, amazing stuff, which he ended with a stomping break of (about) 15 boards (with spacers).  Like I say, I hope to be able to post the video here.

Couple of notes — one other contestant, also in my club, essayed a series of breaks which was almost 2/3 as difficult as Brian’s, judging by the total number of boards… but didn’t set himself quite correctly, and failed to break one of the boards.  (One, out of about 20-25.) There’s a mandatory half-point deduction on a failure to break… and the standard scoring for this event, for the Black Belt divisions, is about 9.2-10.0 (Brian got one of those 10.0’s).  So my friend was taken out of competition for the awards by the miss.

Final scores were tallied (5 judges; drop the high and low scores, unless that creates a tie). Brian was first. I got third; it would have been fourth, had my other friend not missed his break.

I’m definitely going to have to _seriously_ up my game to play in this league. I want to do this again.  With more boards 🙂

Things which I need to be studying:

  • WordPress
  • Sewing
  • Basic Auto Mechanics/Maintenance
  • Python
  • Perl
  • Ruby
  • Information Security
  • Database Security and known vulnerabilities
  • Encryption Methods, Number Theory, Primality and tests thereof (NOT “factoring numbers”)
  • Linux Command Line (low priority)
  • IMS (The IBM Mainframe database, not the messaging service)
  • Tang Soo Do Hyungs
    • Pyung Ahn E Dan (mostly good) (Form 5)
    • Pyung Ahn Sam Dan (needs work) (Form 6)
    • Pyung Ahn Sa Dan (needs a few more run-throughs) (Form 7)
    • Pyung Ahn Oi Dan (don’t have all the moves down) (Form 8)
    • Bassai Hyung (don’t have all the moves down)
    • Naihanji Shodan (Needs a few more run-throughs, but mostly good)
    • Naihanji E Dan (don’t have all the moves down)
    • Naihanji Sam Dan (don’t have all the moves down)
    • Chil Sung Il Ru (barely started)
    • Chil Sung E Ru (barely started)
    • Chil Sung Sam Ro (barely started)
    • Jin Do (barely started)
    • Federation Self Defense Moves
      • 1 (good, except for fourth step)
      • 2 (need third and fourth step)
      • 3 (need all)
      • 4 (need all)
      • 5 (need third and fourth step, more practice)

Okay, is that enough? I’m drowning now.