Russian Black Bread
Adapted from Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Bible
Serves: Two large loaves
  • 1½ tablespoons active dry yeast
  • Pinch of sugar
  • ½ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup molasses (i used date syrup)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3o grams unsweetened chocolate (you could use 3 T cocoa and 1 T butter but I actually used regular dark chocolate)
  • 1 and ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3 cups rye flour
  • 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose or bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (shahi jeera)
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
  • half an onion, grated, 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • ¼ cup cornmeal (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour (optional)
  1. Combine yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat two cups water, molasses, vinegar, butter and chocolate in the microwave until the butter and chocolate are melted. Stir and set aside.
  3. Mix whole-wheat, rye and white flours in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine two cups mixed flours, bran, seeds, salt, espresso, onion and garlic. Mix in yeast and chocolate mixtures. Beat on low with a hand beater until smooth and then beat at medium speed for a further three minutes.
  5. Add half cup of remaining mixed flours at a time, mixing until dough clears sides of bowl and begins to form into a dough.
  6. Transfer to a well floured counter, and knead to make a springy yet dense dough. Keep adding flour as desired to avoid the dough getting to sticky but you might not use all of the flour mixture.
  7. Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1½ to 2 hours.
  8. Combine cornmeal, flour and remaining caraway seeds, if using, and set aside.
  9. Gently deflate dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two portions, form each into two round loaves or pan loaves. Pan loaves should be placed in a loaf pan sprayed with nonstick spray, while round loaves can be placed seam down on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  10. Sprinkle loaves with cornmeal mixture, if using. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled and puffy, about 45 minutes to one hour. Slash an X into the top of a round before baking.
  11. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until loaves are well-browned, and sound hollow when tapped on the underside. Remove from baking sheet to cool completely on a rack before slicing.
Recipe by Bombay Chowparty at