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 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]
- I don’t have espresso, ground or otherwise, in the house. Café Bustelo ground coffee in the same quantities seems to work fine as a substitute.
- In addition to the spices named in the recipe, I usually add half a tablespoon of dried minced onion.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 the carbon dioxide.
- 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.
Thanksgiving day – November 23, 2017