Thursday, August 15, 2019

Black Bread

Dark and dense black bread is flavoured with caraway and rye, with a hint of sweetness from molasses and grated carrots. Smeared with cultured butter, it's a perfect lunch side.

One of the things I love about mid August is that all the market produce is in full swing. While it may have been the case for ages south of the border, where we are in Toronto it's only about this time when the bulk of the garden and farms start producing en masse. As always, I planted an array of heirloom root veggies (carrots and beets this year) and the first round is ready for pulling, much to this veggie-head's content! Of course, just because we have some produce in the backyard doesn't mean we don't go a wee bit overboard at the farmers' market too - especially if we're inspired by either the veggies or the prepared foods on display!

This bread came about as a combination of both of those inspirations - both of the markets Mom and I (and now N) attend in the summer have artisan bakeries as well as the normal produce stands, and I always get Mom to look and see what kinds of loaves tickle her fancy. She'll buy one, of course - instant gratification and supporting local vendors is the name of the game - but the second choice is mine to recreate. This time she spotted a super-dark, dense rye bread on display, topped with seeds, and after scouting around the good old blogging world for a bit I settled on a recipe that would not only recreate the loaf but use some of the carrots we bought too! Not only does the dense dough stay moist and tender due to the molasses, but shredded carrot subtly infuses it's natural sweetness and colour as it bakes. The colour comes from a combination of espresso powder, cocoa powder and molasses, while the rye and whole wheat add not only a ton of flavour but nutrition too.

While I didn't get to enjoy this loaf, I do have it on good authority that it is well worth the (albeit minimal) work involved. Mom preferred to enjoy it "ploughman's style" with butter, cheese and crudites, although she also admitted it made a mean corned beef sandwich too. Either way, it was a great addition to a lighter summer lunch!

Black Bread
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Make one loaf
350 g water
1 tbsp raw sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp finely ground espresso beans (not instant espresso)
2 tbsp rye flakes, plus more for topping
104 g molasses
1 tbsp caraway seeds, plus more for topping
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbsp kosher salt
150 g coarsely grated carrot
1 tbsp instant yeast
155 g rye flour
430 g  whole wheat bread flour
olive oil for kneading and oiling baking sheet
water, for brushing
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the water, sugar, cocoa, coffee, rye flakes, molasses, caraway, butter, salt and carrot. Stir constantly until butter melts. Let cool to lukewarm.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the yeast and flours in a large bowl.
  3. Add the contents of the saucepan and stir to form a sticky, but cohesive dough (you may need more flour or water).
  4. Knead with a dough hook or by hand for 10 minutes.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl.
  6. Cover and allow to rise in a warm, place for 1- 2 hours, until the dough increases in size by at least half.
  7. Knock back and shape into a boule. Cover lightly and allow to rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, another hour.
  8. Uncover, brush gently with water and sprinkle with rye flakes and caraway seeds.
  9. Use a serrated knife to slash an 'X' across the dough.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes at 425F.
  11. Reduce the heat to 350F, and bake for another 20-25 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack.

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