Black Bread Recipe

A hearty black bread - caraway-crusted, and flecked with dashes of grated carrot. It's dark, dense with rye, and perfect when toasted then topped with a fat smear of dill butter.

Black Bread

As promised, black bread. It's what I crave when I think of winter-time baking, and I've been making consecutive loaves over the past few weeks. Caraway-crusted, flecked with dashes of grated carrot, it's dark and hearty, and perfect when toasted then topped with a fat smear of dill butter. This is a hodgepodge of a recipe that isn't shy with the rye flour, and stems from a version of black bread in Dan Lepard's Short & Sweet. I use Dan's ingredient list and the method of bread-making I learned as a kid. Pretty much - mix, rise, punch, rise, bake.

Black Bread Recipe

What you end up with here is a rustic, elbows-on-the-table style of crusted loaf with an assertive caraway-molasses streak. Once it's out of the oven, use your best butter to top it. Or, let a slab of it sit under a broiler topped with your favorite melty cheese - either gruyere or goat cheese does the trick. Beyond that, allow me to tell you what I've made of it. For lunch: An open-faced sandwich on toasted Black Bread, with the dill butter from SNED, a bit of sautéed kale, and a fried egg. Remains of a two-day-old loaf? Cubed, tossed in a bit of garlic butter and toasted into croutons. And dare I tell you that this bread was made for fondue? Because it was.

Black Bread

If you're ready to use your oven some more, here’s where you can browse all the baking recipes. This focaccia is a beauty, and you likely have most of the ingredients for this Easy Little Bread. Don’t miss this braided onion bread, or the Big Sur Bakery Hide Bread. And this oatmeal bread is so good, with lots of opportunity for variations. Have fun baking!

I hope all of you are enjoying the start of the new year. The citrus flood has hit, and I find myself binging on sweet, sweet clementines. Now I'm just waiting on the kishus. xo -h

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Black Bread

4.5 from 24 votes

This recipe calls for carrots, which add nice flecks of color, but you can do a potato version as well. Also, I use molasses here, but a lot of you (particularly outside the U.S.) tend to ask me for alternatives - black treacle, or honey will also work. Honey will give you a lighter bread though. For those of you skittish about yeast doughs, I tend to let my dough rise on top of my stove when then oven is on, but a sunny spot usually works nicely too.

Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 320 - 400 ml warm water (105 - 115F)
  • 1 teaspoon natural cane sugar / brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground espresso beans
  • 1/4 + cup / 70 ml molasses
  • 3 teaspoons caraway seeds, plus more for topping
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • ~2 cups / 150 g coarsely grated carrot (2 large)
  • 1 1/3 cup / 150 g rye flour
  • ~3 1/4 cup / 15 oz / 425 g bread flour (or unbleached all -purpose flour), plus more for dusting
  • olive oil for kneading and oiling baking sheet
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk, water, or milk
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl whisk the yeast with 1 1/3 cups / 320 ml of the warm water and sugar, and set aside until foamy. If the yeast doesn't activate, try again.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cocoa, coffee, molasses, caraway, butter, and salt. Stir constantly until just melted. You want the mixture to be lukewarm when you add it to the other of the ingredients.
  3. Combine the yeast mixture with the grated carrot and molasses mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add the flours, and stir until you've got a soft, tacky, cohesive dough. If you'r dough is too dry, add more of the warm water a bit at a time. Alternately, if your dough is a bit too wet, and you need to add a bit more flour, do so. Turn the dough out onto your counter and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and springy. Note: you can do this step using the dough hook on your mixer.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, rub with a bit of olive oil, and place seam-side down into an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm, cozy place for 1- 2 hours or until the dough increases in size by at least half. At this point, gently press down, with a closed fist, across the surface of the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, and coerce into a pleasant-shaped round. Place directly on a very lightly oiled baking sheet, then cover loosely with a floured tea cloth or plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, another hour. Uncover, brush gently with buttermilk, sprinkle with a dusting of flour, ~1 teaspoon caraway seeds, and use a serrated knife to slash an 'X' deeply across the dough (do your best not to deflate the loaf). 

  5. Bake for 20 minutes at 425F / 220C. Dial back the heat to 350F / 180C, and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the loaf develops a structured, toasted-bottomed crust, and the loaf sounds a bit hollow when you knock on it. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack before slicing into.

Notes

Make one extra-large loaf.

Serves
12
Prep Time
4 hrs 5 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
4 hrs 50 mins
 
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Comments

My husband made your black bread recipe this afternoon. We had it tonight with white Vermont cheddar cheese and red wine. Loved it!

Sara

Hi Heidi (from another Heidi), I just pulled this out of the oven 2 minutes ago :) Thanks for the recipe! I followed the recipe except for the flours... unfortunately I didn't have rye flour or unbleached a.p. flour. I used some whole wheat flour (which I milled myself - more on this in a sec) and a combination of bread flour and regular all purpose flour because I ran out of bread flour! The 400mL of water ended up being far, far too much - I should have known better than to add it all from the beginning, I usually start with half! Anyway, I believe the flours I used (esp the hand-ground flour?) require a lot less moisture. I ended up having to add in twice as much all purpose flour, ending up with a frighteningly enormous loaf! Next time I will start with 200mL water and add in as needed. (Also I used decaf filter coffee grounds instead of espresso, because that's what I had!) Incidentally, here in Greece, molasses is easy to get - who would have thought, right? :)

Heidi

Perfect timing! Just the other day I was looking for a good recipe for nice, dark black bread but couldn't find one that I liked. I can't wait to make this!

Claire

I love your description of this bread--it almost sounds like a person I'd like to meet. Maybe I'll have to invite this bread over instead.

Gretchen

I saw this recipe yesterday and couldn't wait to make it! My husband and I visited Poland and Russia in September and had so many variations of delicious brown breads. This one was great! I loved the molasses and caraway. I used instant coffee I had on hand instead of grinding espresso beans (maybe i would've had an even stronger coffee flavor if i had). But nonetheless it came out terrific - chewy on the outside and a light crumb interior! It is a huge loaf - could definitely make 2 - but will certainly make again.

Lisa Arnoff

Granted, I'm pregnant and fairly hormonal, but my eyes teared up when I saw these photos. Love home-baked bread, heart of the hearth, heart of the home. Super special post. Thanks.

Sarah

Just popped this in the oven! Used dairy free alternatives-My son and I can't wait to taste it.

avita

Heidi, your photographs are lovely, you capture the beauty of food! I will try this recipes for sure!

Wendy

Heidi, I've just thrown together this dough (sounds phenomenal!!), but it took a LOT of flour to come together. I ended up needing probably 2 more cups of bread flour before this dough was willing to come together into something not completely slack and tacky. Does this sound completely abnormal? My carrots were pretty fresh, but I didn't think they were THAT juicy! Thanks!

Sarah

Just lovely! Heading out to pick up the ingredients now! One question...could I use instant espresso powder in place of the finely ground espresso beans? Are they the same thing? Would I use the same amount? Thanks so much!

Gloria

Perfect. My husband and I are expats living in Sweden. The Swedish word for cumin is spiskummin and the Swedish word for caraway is kummin. What this means is that we've got an excess of caraway seeds we accidentally purchased when we were trying to get cumin seeds. This bread will be a great way to use up some of them and will compliment Swedish rye flour perfectly! Thanks for the recipe.

Katie

What an unusual loaf, it leaves me quite intrigued and I have to say very keen to try it. Take care Kate

CliftonKitchen

This looks great. I am making it tonight. It would be another great experience. Thanks for your sharing.

Elva @ Gluten Free dessert

Your bread looks beautiful! I love the rustic nature of it. I've never attempted black bread before. Does the ground coffee give the bread a distinct coffee flavor? Or does it just harmonize with the cocoa and molasses? I would imagine that black bread would be good smeared with cream cheese and some cherry jam... a la Nigella Lawson :)

Lisa

This looks and sounds beyond wonderful. I have eaten one similar but with raisins. I will try this one tomorrow. Thanks for your inspiration.

Mari

Caraway seeds are such an overlooked ingredient! I will try this lovely looking bread on the merit of the mighty caraway alone. Thank you!

Holly (The Apiarist)

Hmmm...wonderful! I am always delighted to see when you write about baking your own bread. I live in Germany and I also had the problem to find molasses. When I baked my way through Kim Boyces "Good to the grain" I was determined to find it and eventually got hold of it in a health food store (in Germany this is called "Reformhaus"). I was told Dark Corn Syrup or Dark Brown Sugar would be a good substitute as well. BTW: I think you posted the wrong link for the Dill Butter. When you click it, your first book comes up on the Amazon page, not Super Natural Every Day.

Michael Kolodziej

This bread sounds just PERFECT for January, when one wants things that are comforting and hearty and deeply nourishing. I can't wait get the dough going, so that this will be baking away in my oven as the wind howls outside and the snow whips by the windows.

Danielle

I'm half Russian, so I wonder if this is similar to the Russian black bread called Borodinsky? Anyone know? I'd love to recreate it for my mom.

Irina G (Fit Flexitarian)

Looks delicious. A great bread to start the new year. Must make it along with a soup soon!

Dena

Oh WOW!!! I am leaving right now to go get rye flour...there is no way i can wait another second to try this!!! That just sounds AMAZING!!! Do you think wheat flour instead of bread flour will work? Wonder if it will make it too dense? Maybe I'll try it both ways and let you know :)

Danielle@BigLifeLittleGarden

Just finished making this recipe - thank you so much, Heidi, for the inspiration! My only trouble with it was that it didn't quite hold its shape, and flattened out a bit while in the oven. I substituted whole wheat flour for all-purpose - could that be the problem? Delightful regardless!

Kelly

The bread looks rustic and delicious and perfect for a cheesy fondue I bet! There is nothing quite like bread coming out of your very own oven and that baking smell is euphoric!

Anna @ the shady pine

This sounds fantastic! Have you ever tried putting orange zest in it? I made a similar rye bread a while ago that had orange zest and it was a nice compliment to the caraway and molasses. I'm going to make this as soon as my oven is working again!

Chloe

This looks delicious! Cocoa and coffee and carrots. Heaven.

Amanda

beautiful shots, heidi. you captured the rustic-ness of the bread perfectly. (and you make me wish i could eat gluten!)

samantha jillian

This looks amazing!! I might try making a gluten-free version of this. Any suggestions?

Willa

What a lovely and tempting loaf! I bet fresh out of the oven with butter makes this bread heaven :)

Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Oh my goodness, this looks and sounds like heaven. Rye bread has now surpassed wheat as the better bread to eat. I think if I make this, my New Years resolutions will go right out the window. I promised to cut back on bread, but I think I would eat the whole loaf...2 days into croutons...can it possible last that long as good as it looks?

Maria @ Sinfully Nutritious

Has anyone tried this recipe using brown flour? I always like to increase the health benefits by using brown flour, but don't want to wreck what sounds like an absolutely delicious bread!

Janine

i doubt i can pawn this off on my kids, but HOO boy, may just have to make a loaf all my own!

molly

Beautiful bread, as always, Heidi. I, too, am binging on the citrus. Especially my favorite: cara cara oranges!

Kasey

Beautiful! This is making me so hungry right now. Gorgeous photos...thanks for sharing!

Emilie

Lovely lovely! This might just be my Bread Attempt of the weekend (new year's resolution: bake bread). One question, however, more from my inexpertise than your writing, I'm sure: "2 tablespoons finely ground espresso coffee" - is that 2 TB of the coffee *grounds* themselves or 2 TB of brewed espresso (from coffee grounds)? Wording would tilt me to the former, but I don't want to err! Thank you, and again - lovely recipe, this one and all others!

HS: Thanks Robin, you should add the ground up beans. Will tweak the wording to be more clear.

Robin K.

Black bread croutons are great on top of a raw brussel sprout or beet salad.

molly@mollysmenu

alternatives to molasses? the horror!! can't wait to try this recipe out - I am a big fan of homemade breads :).

heather @ chiknpastry

I love the description of the loaf at "elbows on the table style." More than anything else, this phrase helps me to picture perfectly what kind of bread you made! And it looks absolutely delicious.

Ashley @ cooking for one

Looks fabulous - I plan to give this a shot on the weekend! Thank you for posting!

Sheryl

Thank you, ma'am! My life needs more caraway in it! :-)

Elizabeth @ Coppertop Kitchen

I've been making Deb's recipe for Black Bread lately, and with 17 ingredients it can be hard to make when I'm in a hurry to get the dough together. I'm excited to try your recipe. I can always combine the two...her recipe is carrot free and I think that's a marvelous addition.

Deanna

I do enjoy a dark and hearty loaf like this one in the dead of winter. You had me at fondue!

la domestique

P.S. @ Erin. You need some white flour for the gluten. Or you can use all whole grain flours and add pure gluten -- otherwise your bread won't rise. @ everybody: we often utilize our clothes dryer as a rising chamber because we have a cold kitchen. Turn the empty dryer on for a few minutes, then turn it off and set the bread to rise.

Sharyn Dimmick

This bread sounds perfect for cold winter days. I've been itching to bake with rye. Love the complexity of the cocoa, espresso and carrot.

adrienne

I've been wanting a black bread recipe. This is the first one I've seen with molasses and cocoa and espresso, so I'm going to try it soon. Thanks.

Sharyn Dimmick

I woke up wanting to make a loaf of bread and this looks perfect! I've got everything and I can't wait to give it a try. Thanks, Heidi!

kickpleat

This looks like the perfect, rustic loaf of bread. Beautiful!

Brian @ A Thought For Food

This looks incredible! I love breads like this - and usually the darker the better :D I'm going crazy just thinking about fondue now though :D

Heidi

This is the bread I have been waiting for. It looks like it belongs in a rustic bakery. I am going to make it and pair it with my kale and cranberry salad. The heartiness of the bread paired with the crisp greens to me is the perfect weekday lunch.

jackie @ main mama cooks

If I wanted to make this bread vegan, would it be better to substitute the butter in the dough for Earth Balance or oil? And would it be a 1:1 substitution?

Allison

I bought some rye flour several months ago with the plan to make some black bread. Just discovered it in the back of the fridge the other day... your loaf has re-inspired me!

Jacqui

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