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

4.46 from 22 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.

  • 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
  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.


Make one extra-large loaf.

Prep Time
4 hrs 5 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
4 hrs 50 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment


Oh, Chloe! Like Swedish Limpa Bread--I haven't thought of it in years! Orange zest, fennel seed and caraway flavored. Thanks!


mmmm! How unique! It looks amazing and I can't wait to try it--but...I only have regular coffee beans on that bad? Should I wait until I can get hold of espresso beans?

HS: just use what you've got Janelle - it'll be fine.


Whaaaaaat?! This just knocked me into next week. I love it!

Bev Weidner

This sounds so healthy! I haven't even heard of black bread, let alone try it. Yum!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

bread with cocoa powder and coffee- my 3 favorite things together! love this!

Simply Life

I live in Germany and while I haven't tried this recipe yet, I usually substitute Zuckerrübensirup (sugar beet syrup--not quite as viscous as molasses, but getting there) for molasses in recipes. I love black bread & can't wait to give this a try!


Heidi, this bread looks fabulous. I've never made a bread with a combination of ingredients like that before and now I'm curious. Cocoa, espresso, caraway seeds-how wonderful. I especially love the picture of that blue and white bowl you have been photographing! And the dill butter is great on top of eggs too.


i think this looks scrumptious and plan to make it tomorrow for a get-together. however, i need one clarification: is the espresso meant to be brewed (liquid) or just the fine ground coffee (powder). many thanks!

HS: Hi Jodi - fine ground powder.


do you think the recipe would work using non-dairy milk like almond or soy (unsweetened)?


I have never made bread from scratch and I'm still not ready to, but what made me smile was your mixing it in a pretty old looking blue and white bowl.


definitely a weekend project! thank you!

mm you actually put the coffee grounds in the recipe? Thanks!


Can't wait to get in the kitchen and try this one!! I have made your "easy little bread recipe" many times. Different variations...with walnuts....olives...jalapeño. It's like the little black dress of bread making. Easy to dress it up. :-) thanks once again heidi for your inspiring recipes.


oh wow! i'm fairly new to baking. i had great success with your cardamom rolls over christmas -- thank you! i think i may now be over my fear of working yeast. this recipe looks quite delicious. what do you bake the bread on/in?

HS: Hi Nicole - I bake this straight on the lightly oiled baking sheet. Haven't tried it in a loaf pan, but I suspect you could split the dough between two, and that should work nicely as well.


Lovely! I enjoy the earthy sweetness that carrots add to bread--been using them in cornbread for years. Feeling inspired to make a cumin-infused carrot soup to go with this. Thanks!


This looks so amazing. I'm baking this afternoon!


Thanks for this recipe Heidi. I lived in Libya for 4 years and one thing I always used to love eating fresh from the bakery ovens was the black bread that they made. Quite different to your recipe, not as refined as yours, but the same rustic shape. It was such a heavy, really black and unrefined/unprocessed bread - so delicious, I adored it.


Heidi, I recently bought black bread at a Russian store on Geary and was so disappointed. It's some weird german thing, nothing like the absolutely fantastic black bread I ate in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) so many decades ago. They say sawdust is part of the trick. :) I hope to get a chance to try this...


Dan's book is wonderful isn't it? It's become a kitchen essential already. I love a dark flavourful bread and this looks perfect.


Wow. This looks wonderful. Any idea how one might work in a wild yeast starter in place of the active dry yeast?


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