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


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.


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!


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


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?


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!


me and my dad used to make black bread on the weekend with walnuts and raisins. this looks delish. can't wait to try this version.


Looks wonderful! It's an inspiration to try my hand at a rye bread.


I'm not a big bread eater but might make an exception for this one: sounds unbelievable!

Mike @TheIronYou

Be still my heart. Your loaf looks amazing Heidi. I will be trying it soon since I'm in a serious baking mode these days. I will be adding honey though, there is no way I can find molasses where I live. Thank you!

Magda | My Little Expat Kitchen

Would love to make this with the lovely organic rye flour someone just bequeathed to me ... but I can't do the coffee (husband allergic). What will it be like without it? Is there something else I should add? Anyone in the same boat?


Oh my goodness, this looks so good!


This looks fabulous. Love love LOVE it. Years ago, I discovered Latvian black bread at a store in northern Connecticut: dense, sweet, utterly delectable. It turned out to be made by a bakery mentioned in Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking (Kupris Bakery) and I've gone on for years looking for them, to no avail. I've always been afraid of baking black bread of my own....but now I've got this great recipe to try. Thanks so much Heidi.

Elissa at Poor Man's Feast

This looks really amazing, Heidi! Printing now!


This looks fantastic, but I implore you to stop punching your dough! Folding is much gentler and allows for more gluten development (aka better texture). Google it and give it a try for your next loaf!


I am eating one of the best clementines I've had in a long time while I am reading your recipe. This bread sounds wonderful!


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