Monday, August 24, 2009

BBB bake Russian Black (Russian black-out?)

We've been on holiday, and we're back. Sort of. (Our return and the following week almost got me on my knees begging for a retreat in a hammam for at least a day or two! More later)

Never mind summertime, the Babes are baking. Warning: this is one heavily double tweaked recipe! Görel, our hosting Babe invited us to her cool Nordic kitchen table and explained she wanted us to bake a Russian Black Bread. Way cool! There's rye, sourdough, caraway, fennel, coffee grounds (huh?)... old bread... (oookaaay?). Görel studied a lot of recipes and decided to make her own and call it:

Black Bread – indecisive style

Medium rye flour 300 gr (I used 200 sharp rye and 100gr whole wheat)
Water 350 ml (1,5 cup)
Active sourdough culture* 2 Tbsp (used 1 tsp instant yeast)

Old bread **, toasted 100 g (used ready made toasted breadcrumbs, panko?)
Coffee, ground 15g
Vegetable oil 25 g
Molasses 60 ml 1/4 cup
Caraway seeds 2 tsp
Fennel seeds 1 tsp
Minced shallots 1 Tbsp
Hot water 400 ml

Medium rye flour 300 g
(Again, I mixed whole wheat and rye, half and half, plus I added 2.5 tbs of gluten powder to help it along. This worked, the final dough rose beautifully!)
High gluten bread flour 400 g
Salt 20 g -approx. 1 tbs-
Fresh yeast 15 g / or instant dry yeast 1.5 tsp
All of the sour dough
All of the soaker

* If you don’t have any active starter at hand, I think you can cheat by using a small amount (say 5 g fresh or 0,5 tsp instant dry yeast) instead.

** I used rye sourdough bread, but I guess any old unsweetened bread will do, or any old bread in general. Soooo I used ready made coarse breadcrumbs "paneermeel", or Panko?

I'll refer you to Görel for the directions. My tweaks are above in red. Why tweak a tested and tweaked recipe? Well, during our state of Babe-ness we Dutchies discovered that our rye flour is very different from other ryes, which makes following a recipe with these amounts of rye more difficult. Normally I would have tried to mix sharp full rye meal with rye flour to make it approachable, been to the mill three times and they were out every single time! Oh and I tossed my SD starter. So I used instant yeast. Yes. Tweaked ánd Cheated. Bad Bad Babe!

I can tell you however that the mixing of my sharp -full whole rye- and whole wheat plus the addition of the gluten powder (of which I think you normally can stay away from) made this dough behave and thus proof like a regular bread dough. I made sure I didn't overknead and proofing time for both 1st and shape were relatively short (approx. 1 to 1.5 hour). Sadly enough an inpromptu visit to the dentist made for overproofed loaves, so I bet they could have looked better than this.

Verdict: This bread needs some time to make friends. The entire family objected the first time and fought each other to get to the supermarket bread! But the day after... somehow the overall opinion changed and I saw kids and husband making and enjoying sandwiches!

I think I would prefer to leave out the onion next time, not sure but I think that's what made it hard to love at first sight. Oh and use espresso powder instead of ground coffee. Yep. Great challenge Görel, I enjoyed baking!

If you like to join us and become a Bread Baking Buddy, you'll have time until 7th September to bake this challenge! For info check back to Görels site. For other Russian Blacks see the BBBabes in the sidebar!


  1. I was about to ask how you got your loaf so tall, then I saw the gluten. Smart you! Your bread looks sumptuous.

  2. That was smart to use the gluten flour, your loaf looks great!

  3. Popped in to say fabulous bread!

  4. Nicely done! I tweaked and adjusted as well - some because of what I had or didn't have on hand and some because I read the directions poorly! I like that you made them into loaves!

  5. Cheating paid off this time! And right you were... I should have been so sensible!
    Great looking loaves. Wonderful pic too with the grapes and all.

  6. Oh dear, where the .... can I buy this glutenpowder in such a short time? I'll try to find it on time.
    I've nominated you with the creative blogger award because of your hilarious posts and you scheme for making a starter.

  7. Oh yum! That bread looks utterly delectable!

  8. That was clever, adding the wheat flour AND extra gluten! Wise decision knowing the Dutch rye ... recipes are only guidelines, almost everything is tweakable, bad is not a word we use. Sorry though you didn't like it so much!

  9. That sounds wonderful! I'm reviving my starter as we speak so I can bake with all of you again this month. Thinking I'll leave out the onion per your suggestion though - thanks!

  10. I just made this, and followed your advice on the vital wheat gluten. It turned out wonderful! And I even liked the shallots! One of the things that really inspired me to make the bread was your photos of it topped with salmon - yum.

  11. Added gluten..very smart. Glad to hear that it tastes better the second day since my lunch will be a sandwich with it. The panko is and interesting idea, too. It's great that the babes try small tweaks here and there to recipes.

  12. This looks amazing. I keep thinking about trying my hand with the BBAs...Maybe for October or November...


  13. I finally made the bread too and it was delicious. I liked it but I understand what you mean when you say the bread needs time to make friends.

  14. I really enjoyed this bread, we thought the onion added a nice flavor. It definitely was a hard loaf. One of my girlfriends parents just send her a box from Holland with some extra aged cheese. I'm going to defrost the loaf, bring it in to work and see what she thinks.


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