Russian Black Bread

One savory use for chocolate 🍫: Russian Black Bread.  It contains both unsweetened chocolate and coffee, along with caraway, fennel and onion.  It has a rich earthy flavor, that goes equally well with butter and jam or with heavy soup.  So much fun to make.


2 tbsp. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 c. water
1 tbsp. instant espresso powder
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp. butter
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
3 c. medium rye flour
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. bran
2 tbsp. caraway seeds
3/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. minced shallots
1/4 c. cornmeal
1 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. caraway seeds

In a small bowl, combine yeast and sugar with warm water. Stir to dissolve and let proof, about 10 minutes.

Heat two cups water, and add the espresso powder.  Stir to dissolve, then add molasses, vinegar, butter and chocolate.  Stir frequently until the butter and chocolate are melted. Set aside.

Combine whole-wheat, rye and all-purpose flours in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Set aside.

In bowl of a heavy mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine two cups of the mixed flours, with the bran, caraway, fennel, salt and shallots and mix on low.  Add the proofed yeast and liquid chocolate/coffee mixture.  Continue mixing on low until the dough becomes smooth, then beat at medium speed for three minutes. Return the speed to low, and pausing between additions, add half cup measures of the remaining mixed flours (you will not need all of the mixed flour at this point), until dough clears sides of bowl and begins to work its way up paddle . It will be very sticky but firm. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and gradually add additional flour mixture,  kneading by hand until you have a springy yet dense dough. (You still might not need all of themixed flour.) Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Combine cornmeal, flour and remaining caraway seeds and set aside.

Gently deflate dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two portions and form into two rounds. Place seam down on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkled with cornmeal mixture. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled and puffy, about 45 minutes to one hour. Slash an X into the top.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until loaves are well-browned, or register an internal temperature of 200 to 210 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from baking sheet to cool completely on a rack.