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 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 :)


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!


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!


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


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?


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!


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


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


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


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.


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!


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.


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