Russian black bread is a staple in the Russian diet. It is served daily. It has a long history and is even credited for keeping folks alive after the Nazi's invaded when ingredients were very difficult to come by.
Russian black bread has been a symbol of people's well-being. The Slavs believed that people who shared a loaf became friends forever. I love that, it is pretty much my whole premise for International Cuisine. Sharing bread, a meal or a simple cup of tea, is the ultimate form of hospitality and a treasured memory.
The Russian black bread is black and sour, made with rye and a sour starter or leaven. It was much cheaper and more nutritious than white bread. The different grades of rye bread indicated one's wealth. This recipe has numerous ingredients to make a rich and hearty loaf. Today the bread is ubiquitous, and we loved it with the beetroot soup known as Borscht.
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Russian Black Bread
- 4 cups rye flour
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups 100% all-bran cereal
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds crushed
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed crushed
- 2 1/4 ounce packages active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup dark molasses
- 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
- 1/4 cup butter
For the glaze
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup cold water
- Combine flours in a bowl.
- In another large bowl, thoroughly mix 2 1/3 cups flour mixture, sugar, salt, cereal, caraway seed, coffee powder, onion powder, fennel seed and undissolved yeast.
- In a sauce pan combine 2 1/2 cups water, vinegar, molasses, chocolate and butter.
- Heat liquid mixture over low heat until liquids are very warm, butter and chocolate do not have to be fully melted.
- Gradually add heated liquid mixture to dry ingredients and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally.
- Add 1/2 cup flour mixture at a time, Beat at high speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.
- Stir in enough additional flour mixture to make a soft dough.
- Turn dough on to a lightly floured board. Cover dough with a tea towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Knead dough until smooth and elastic this takes 10 minutes or so, dough may be sticky. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning dough to grease the top.
- Cover bowl with a tea towel and place in a warm, draft free place to rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
- Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured board.
- Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a ball, about 5-6 inches in diameter.
- Place each ball into the center of a greased 8-inch round cake pan.
- Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size again about 1 hour.
- Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes, or until done.
- When the bread is nearly done, combine cornstarch and cold water.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture stats to boil; continue cooking mixture for 1 minute stirring constantly.
- As soon as bread is done, brush cornstarch mixture over top of loaves. Return bread to oven and bake 2-3 minutes longer, or until glaze is set.
- Remove loaves from pans and cool on wire racks.